Richmond Hill community throws party for 20-year-old autistic rail fan who never attended birthday party
Savannah Morning News - 5/13/2019
May 12--On any given week, Richmond Hill drivers can spot Zach Martin sitting near the railroad tracks off Ford Avenue.
The 20-year-old is known in the community as "The Choo Choo Inspector," and is often seen waving at trains as they go by. He's also autistic.
So when community members heard that he had never been to a birthday party, it was only right that they threw him a party on National Train Day, which was Saturday.
"This whole thing came about from our two good friends," said Erika Martin, his mom. "They found out that Zach had never gone to a birthday party. So they decided 'let's throw him a party'."
Zach and Erika moved to Richmond Hill about two years ago.
And his mother said that the community was more than welcoming to the pair.
"Every mom of a kid that has exceptional needs wants their child to be accepted," she said. "Having the whole community come together and do this for him makes me feel really good. ... It's a tight knit community and everyone wanted to meet the boy that they see waving at the trains."
Knowles Hamrick met Zach and his mother about 16 months ago. Hamrick and Zach share a passion for trains.
Hamrick said he wanted to make sure Zach had memories that would last him a lifetime.
"We met Zach about a year and four months ago trackside," Hamrick said. "I'm a rail fan. ... It's just really exciting to see all of this and to know that Zach will never forget any of this. This will be a memory and a party to remember for life. ... Zach, he gets so super-excited about it and it just excites me."
From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, residents of Richmond Hill had the chance to learn more about the boy at the tracks.
"His world revolves around this and just to have all these people here to talk trains with him, it's huge," Erika Martin said.
Zach's favorite trains are freight trains -- 17 cars or longer. He grades trains as they go by.
"I'm excited," he said. "I like the party. My favorite trains are the manifest mixed-freight trains.
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