If you love to visit holiday train gardens you're in luck, Ellicott City boasts not just one, but three this season.
The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services is hosting its 14th annual train garden at the Ellicott City Fire Station #2, 4150 Montgomery Road. The enormous 24- by 10-foot display features multi-level tracks with various trains pulsing through themed villages passing flashing train signals and special holiday figurines.
Admission to the Ellicott City Fire Station train garden is free, but donations are welcome. The station also serves as a collection place for unwrapped toys for needy children. Toy donations will be accepted through Friday, Dec. 23.
The display will be open until Jan. 1. Train garden hours are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., except on Christmas Eve (11 a.m.-4 p.m.), New Year's Day (11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. and Christmas Day (closed).
For more information, call the Ellicott CIty Fire Station community outreach hotline at 410-313-2036.
Historic Ellicott City's B&O Railroad Museum is hosting its "Holiday Festival of Trains," now open until Jan. 29, Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The display features toy trains and model railroading including the ever-so-popular Thomas the Tank Engine and a new custom-built multi-level O-scale model train layout.
Be on the look-out for appearances by Santa and Frosty the Snowman. The museum is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, Christmas Day and New Years's Eve Day. For more information, call the museum at 410-461-1945 or go to http://www.borail.org.
The Shrine of St. Anthony's Brother Gerry Seipp presents his Christmas Train Garden in the Manor House, 12290 Folly Quarter Road. Visit with Franciscan Friar Brother Gerry as he showcases his train collection that he started when he was a child.
The event is free and is held every Sunday in December and January from 3-5 p.m.,except on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Admission is free and families are welcome. For more information, call The Shrine at 410-531-2800.
Summertime to many twenty-somethings is a time to reconnect with friends, visit the beach or take a relaxing trip. But for one 2010 Centennial high school graduate, this coming summer will be spent outdoors in the blistering sun for 70 days riding a bike over 4000 miles from Baltimore to Seattle.
"Am I nuts or am I nuts?", thought Raymond Kim before submitting his application to the 4K for Cancer - a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by a group of undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University to combine their desire to fight cancer with their goal to bike cross country.
What finally motivated Kim, now a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, to join the cross country bike fundraiser were two people in his life — his grandmother and a fellow high school student.
His first brush with the disease came when his beloved grandmother was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer with no hope to even begin treatment. It was a hard blow for Kim whose grandmother was strong and healthy well into her late 80s.
"Seeing my grandmother fall helplessly to cancer and seeing my family suffering was an awakening in my life. Cancer doesn't discriminate. It is ruthless and brutal." Kim said.
Then, during high school he met fellow Centennial High student Keeley Imel who was diagnosed with brain cancer at the beginning of her freshman year. Imel's treatment would take her to St. Jude's Hospital, sometimes requiring her to leave school for months at a time. But according to Kim, no matter how long or how grueling the treatments away from home were Imel would always come back "the Keeley everyone knew.....greeting us with her smile like always."
"Her toughness and her resilience have helped me realize that there are people around the world going through so much more than the petty complaints we make everyday. The day I took for granted today, is the one extra day that those who died yesterday had sincerely wished for," Kim said.
This summer, Kim's journey across the United States will be in honor of his grandmother and his friend Keeley. He will join fellow Centennial High alum Ella Lee (who is also riding in honor of Keeley) and Marriotts RIdge alum Briana Boitano on 4K for Cancer's Team Seattle.
But in order to participate in the cross country ride, each biker must raise $4,500, which represents every mile they will be biking.
Kim told me that for every dollar someone contributes to his fundraising goal, he will dedicate a mile to their friend or family member who may currently be fighting cancer or have been affected by it in the past.
The riders began each morning with a dedication circle, where the riders share the names and stories of those people who they are dedicating the day to. Then, they write the names of those people on their legs to serve as a symbol of their dedication and as motivation throughout the day.
Since the first ride in 2002, hundreds of college students have biked across the country with 4K for Cancer. In fact, just last year, fellow Centennial alumni Mike Mahony, Nancy Ye, Katie Schofield and Alex Wang completed the ride and raised nearly $20,000 for cancer research and awareness.
For more information about Raymond Kim's 4K for Cancer ride or to make a donatation, go to his 4K for Cancer profile page at http://www.4kforcancer.org/profiles/raymond-kim < . Kim welcomes your words of encouragement, photos or stories. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck Raymond, Ella and Briana!