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Center Visits LCCA Train Convention


Elizabeth Thornburgh is an active volunteer at the Chattanooga Autism Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Currently, she serves as event coordinator, writes for their newsletter, and updates their website.  She graduated in 2006 from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Master's in elementary education.  She taught 2nd grade before becoming a stay-at-home mom to Nick (3) and Violet (1). She is married to her college sweetheart, Rick for 7 years.  She enjoys providing sensory-friendly events for her son who has Asperger's Syndrome and other families affected by autism in addition to educating the community about autism.  For more information on the Chattanooga Autism Center, please visit

Lionel Collector’s Club of America recently opened its doors to our families for a private showing of their prized collection of trains when they made their stop at the Chattanooga Choo Choo for their annual convention on July 18, 2013.  As families arrived at the historic Choo Choo, they were met with knowledgeable and friendly representatives of the LCCA to help guide them through the massive yet realistic model train layouts.

Brayden and Cayleigh watch in excitement the many model
trains drive by at the LCCA convention


One little attendee, Brayden, 3 years, was fascinated by all the lights and sounds. There was a particular display that housed eight trains that shunted and pulled their loads through mountains and tunnels, while passing interactive billboards, merry-go-rounds, and tiny crews of workmen.  “My son spent much of his time there running all around the exhibit watching the many trains and pushing the buttons to interact with certain parts of the display,” said Brayden’s mom, Katie.  “There was even a subway station set up that ran under the display which was the perfect height for my little guy to see without standing on his tip toes.”  Visitors were sure to hear Brayden’s enthusiastic refrain of “I like trains!” as he followed his favorite train down the hills and through the tunnels.

All of LCCA’s volunteers enjoyed showing all the families how their trains worked.  They were very patient in letting each child control the trains by remote control, which was a big hit with the junior conductors.  As the families progressed through the event, they were surprised to find that volunteers had set out multiple displays to view, control, and play.  Children of all ages were able to find a train set that was just their size.  Displays were set up on floors, tables, and shelves, and there was even a Thomas and Friends table for the littlest fans.  The volunteers were wonderful with the kids, allowing them to run through the room, following the trains, and controlling where the engines went next.

When it was time to leave, the volunteers gave each child a goodie bag filled with the LCCA’s signature orange and blue train and a limited edition billboard to use on their own tracks, a membership to their organization, a light-up fan, and an official patch and bracelet.  Our families couldn’t say enough great things about their experience at the convention.  The volunteers of LCCA worked hard to make sure our visit was a memorable one!

This article was originally posted here.

Here are some more quotes:

“Although my little guy loves trains he has all but stopped playing with them until we say the Lionel trains at the Choo Choo. Now this is what my kitchen table looks like all the time! Just thought I'd share”  -Kaite McVay Campbell

“This is one happy little boy at yesterday’s Lionel Collector’s Convention event.  Thank you to all who put it together! We had a blast!  All I heard the rest of the day was “My trains, my trains!”  Thanks so much!” - David Campbell      



The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.