The Gary Sinise Foundation said it was honored to uplift these families during what is often the most difficult time of the year.
Christmas has come early for children of fallen military service members. They were gifted a five-day vacation to Walt Disney World, all thanks to actor Gary Sinise. The Gary Sinise Foundation gifted 2000 family members a five-day stay at the Walt Disney World in Orlando. Not only that, the families could board any of the 11 chartered American Airlines flights which would stop in 22 cities around the country, according to Disney World.
Enjoy highlights from days 1 & 2 of #SnowballExpress2022 as families of fallen military heroes arrived at Walt Disney World! @GarySiniseFound is so honored to uplift these families with our annual holiday trip by helping them during what is often the most difficult time of year. pic.twitter.com/1KJvX1WYlu— GarySiniseFoundation (@GarySiniseFound) December 6, 2022
The trip started on December 3 and will go on till December 7, 2022. The foundation tweeted, "The Gary Sinise Foundation is so honored to uplift these families with our annual holiday trip by helping them during what is often the most difficult time of year.” Moreover, this is the first time that families were able to visit Walt Disney World since the pandemic. The program is called the “Snowball Express.”
According to the Foundation, they want the families to spend time together and also to “honor their fallen while cultivating relationships and making special memories together in a safe, warm and welcoming environment.”
I am inside the Remembrance Garden that’s part of the Snowball Express Program…and WOW! ❤️— Randi Hildreth (@RandiH_Fox35) December 6, 2022
Both somber and beautiful.
Families of Fallen Military Heroes are in town to visit Disney, paid for by the @GarySiniseFound pic.twitter.com/2M5XN3lAk0
In the Remembrance Garden, American flags were put up with the names of fall military members where families could visit, leave mementos, and remember their loved ones.
On Tuesday, the trip was made more special as the Gold Star families went to Magic Kingdom Park for the “Walk of Gratitude.” There they could write a personal message to the fallen heroes. The children could also ring bells “to send those messages up to the parent(s) they lost as the scrolls are sent to heaven during a special show.”
The foundation started the tradition of bringing families to Walt Disney for the “Snowball Express” in 2018. This is apparently the largest gathering with almost 2,000 dear ones who are from more than 500 cities around the country and overseas. The organization was started 12 years ago by actor Gary Sinise to honor veterans, first responders, and their families.
According to Sinise, “The mission of the Gary Sinise Foundation is broad, and this is a reflection of the needs I’ve seen over the many years supporting so many amazing organizations,” the actor explained. “And the Foundation’s mission is designed to also give us the freedom and flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing needs of our veterans, first responders, and the families who sacrifice alongside them,” as reported by movieguide.
He has spent many years supporting the veterans and armed forces, admiring their work. "Regardless of whether you are left or right, Republican or Democrat, conservative, liberal, whatever, our defenders defend us all,” Sinise said, “and having been in the military community for so long, I have met extraordinary people serving our country.”
He added, “We all need heroes, people to look up to and aspire to. I think that we, as a grateful nation, can always do a little more to support them in their time of need.”
In an Instagram post, talking about the cause, he said, "So we want to make sure that our wounded guys who are going through stuff, know that there are people that care about them…Some guys push through and get through it, others fall back. Why should we care? Well, because they got blown up serving our country and we’re all part of that country that benefits from the freedom that they provide by that service. So, why not do something for them?"