Actor Gary Sinise has long been known for his advocacy supporting veterans and first responders. Now, he’s gone an extra step to help out their kids by flying 1,000 of them to Disney World.
In 2017, Sinise established the Snowball Express as a way to offer a five-day “healing retreat” during the holiday season to the children of fallen soldiers.
This charter left Los Angeles this morning with 91 kids, 176 in all, and I got to take these photos with them before they left. I’ll join up in a few days. Have fun kids! We love you! pic.twitter.com/jPRuZ0iuIp
— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) December 7, 2019
In a partnership with American Airlines, Sinise’s foundation flies these children and their surviving parents to Disney World for a holiday getaway focused on having fun and healing.
Attendees also find that it’s a great way to meet other families going through the same struggles. All the attendees are Gold Star families who have lost a loved one to wartime conflict or military service.
Counseling and Resources
Having fun is the main part, but the Snowball Express doesn’t stop there.
Included in the retreat is a well-coordinated outreach effort that helps surviving parents navigate the benefits and counseling available to them. During their stay at Disney World, certain conference rooms are set aside to help families navigate the resources available through the military and the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Sinise said, “We just want these children to know that we do not forget what they’re going through.”
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