You might know actor Gary Sinise from films such as “Forest Gump,” “The Green Mile” and “Apollo 13,” but the star has another passion: honoring and helping U.S. military veterans and their families. He established the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011, a charity that creates unique programs designed to “entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.” One of those programs is Snowball Express, a special initiative that honors fallen U.S. soldiers by taking their children on free trips to one of the most magical places on earth–Disney world.
For the 2018 Snowball Express trip, Sinise generously brought over 1,700 children and their surviving parents to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for a spectacular 5-night journey. In partnership with American Airlines, more than 14 aircrafts were needed to safely transport the 600+ families who attended the event. “Close to 1,000 American Airlines team members volunteered their time to make this year’s Snowball Express a meaningful event for Gold Star families,” said Sinise on Instagram. “At Snowball, participants were able not only to visit Walt Disney World but were also provided with free counseling services, mentoring, education, and entertainment.”
While the deserving children had a lot of fun, they also had an opportunity to honor their family members who died during combat. Each child wore a “we remember” pin and 600 flags were lined up to represent each of their lost loved ones. “The most important thing about [Snowball Express] is that these children don’t feel alone,” said Sinise. “There’s a lot of healing and a lot of bonding and a lot of friendship that goes on that helps them through the rest of the year.”
“The most important thing about [Snowball Express] is that these children don’t feel alone. There’s a lot of healing and a lot of bonding and a lot of friendship that goes on that helps them through the rest of the year,” Sinise said.
Now 64 years old, Sinise has long been an advocate for rights pertaining to veterans. He’s volunteered for USO tours, helped to build homes for wounded veterans and continues to be vocal in his support.
There is certainly a special place in heaven for Gary and all the others that do so much for the veterans and their families. God bless you Gary!