Ryan Kranz is a 10-year-old boy with a big smile, and a love of locomotives.
"Ever since he was very little, he was obsessed with trains," said Tony Kranz, Ryan's father. "I mean, we've spent hours and hours learning about trains."
That's one of the things that can happen when you live in close proximity to an active set of tracks.
"I've been liking trains since I was 2-years-old because the train tracks are right behind our house," Ryan said.
Every day, a train passes Ryan's Robbinsdale home. And when it does, he runs out the door to wave at the engineers.
Saturday afternoon, one of those engineers and a number of other people gathered at Ryan's house for a special visit organized by the nonprofit 'Wishes & More
"We serve the community of these families that have gone through some really tough stuff," said Karla Blomberg, the volunteer president of Wishes & More. "And we bring a lot of great memories."
Ryan was born with a congenital heart defect that's required surgeries and numerous hospital stays. 'Wishes & More' is in the business of granting wishes for kids like Ryan. And in his case, he wanted his own train room.
"That will become his safe place. His happy place," Blomberg said.
After months of planning and work, Saturday was the grand unveiling of Ryan's train room.
And what a room it is.
"It was just an empty room at first, and flat tabletops, and it just grew from there," said Dave Vos, Ryan's uncle.
Interior designers were brought in to make the room look like the Twin Cities; from Osseo, to Crystal, and beyond.
"You can kind of see we have Humboldt Yard, University Avenue, and then kind of follows along to Minneapolis junction," said Christina Rymer of Lilu Interiors.
It was a labor of love that was put together with the hope that it will serve a greater purpose.
"Sometimes one of the things that goes with his particular heart problem is anxiety," Vos said. "He'll get very anxious."
But family members say that when Ryan is around trains, the anxiety disappears.
"Whatever else he was thinking about or worried about, just evaporates and gets back to being himself again," Vos said.
"So our hope is, during those tough times, he's got a room over there that can make him smile," Blomberg added.
It's a smile that can light up a room. After all, it's not every day that a child's dream comes true.
"I want to say thanks to all the people who made my train room," Ryan said.
Meanwhile, Ryan's overall prognosis is good, and despite having the heart defect, he will be able to live a normal life.
Wishes & More also put $1,000 into an account for Ryan. He'll receive that money when he's a senior in high school to help pay for a college education.
Nov. 13, 2017