Pay It Forward: Train garden brings smiles to sick kids

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Judging by the looks on their faces and the joy in their voices, you'd never know that the kids were facing a frightening medical condition.

On the Banner Desert campus in Mesa, which includes the new Cardon Children's Hospital, there is a train garden that has been a delightful distraction for more than 12 years now.

"I first got the idea to build this after a sick boy in a New York hospital told me how much he loved the toy trains there," said John Macrone.

Macrone is a mechanical design engineer and an artist on the side.

Those two passions collided in what is formerly called "Trains for Kids" by Isabelle.              

"We were childhood sweethearts," Macrone said of his late wife. "She went through two wars with me, and we started this project together."

Macrone turns 81 the day after Christmas and he says his engine is starting to fade, but he still spends most of his free time making sure these sick kids have their train garden.

"I open my blinds and I always see him out there in his garage again working on the trains and buildings for the garden, he's non-stop," said Ashley Phillips, Macrone's neighbor.

Phillips emailed CBS 5 and nominated Macrone for our Pay It Forward segment.

We surprised him at the train garden with the $500 reward, which Macrone said would go to good use on repairs and upgrades to the train garden.
Laughter may be the best medicine, but some would argue that toy trains are not far behind.

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