Durham boy making memories at full throttle

Posted February 25, 2012
Updated February 26, 2012

— A 4-year-old train fanatic got the ride of his dreams Saturday on the New Hope Valley Railway. Not only did Preston Winslow get to take the trip, he sat in the engineer's seat as the 1941 steam locomotive rolled down the tracks.

"I love seeing him happy," Preston's mom, Celeste Winslow, said. "He's obsessed with trains and he always has been."

Her son, diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, may only have months to live, but he was enjoyed his day at full throttle Saturday.

"You're driving the train right now," James Winslow told his little boy.

Preston himself was stunned at the opportunity. "I thought they would never let us do that," he said.

New Hope Valley Railway Train adventure is boy's wish come true

The New Hope Valley Railway, in the Bonsal community in southwest Wake County, is an all-volunteer railroad museum offering rides to the public from April through December. When they got Preston's request, volunteers rallied to finish their annual winter maintenance on the engine so they could fulfill his wish.

"It's just a touching story. It touched all of us," said Steve DeGaetano. "We have a lot of old-time railroaders here. You would think they're really tough and all, but we all have hearts of gold."

Preston has already been to Disney World. The ride on the railroad was his second wish fulfilled, but he's got one more memory that he hopes to make.

Preston was born in Florida and is a huge fan of the Florida Gators. He's spoken on the phone with quarterback Tim Tebow and may get the chance to meet him in person in a few weeks.

"We are in disbelief that this is all happening for our son and what people are doing for him," Celeste Winslow said.


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  • msm57095 Feb 27, 2012

    If you would like to learn more about Preston's fight with acute myeloid leukemia and find out how you can help, please visit

  • itsmyownopinion Feb 27, 2012

    Positive thoughts and prayers for this brave little boy and his family. Never give up.

  • Wendellcatlover Feb 27, 2012

    Wonderful story to start the week! Thank you to those that are making this child's wishes come true!