You may recognize Gary Sinise from various hit movies such as Forest Gump, The Green Mile and Apollo 13. He played Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump. What is lesser known about Sinise is his passion for helping soldiers and their families. He founded the Gary Sinise Foundation and created an event called the “Snowball Express.”
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The Snowball Express is a program he designed in 2017 to honor fallen soldiers by taking over 1,700 kids to Disneyland for five days, all expenses paid for. His reasoning? Well, besides giving back to those who sacrificed everything for their country, Sinise wants them to know they are not forgotten.
“Each one of these children who are going on these airplanes have lost a parent in military services – either combat related or illness or unfortunately suicide sometimes,” Sinise told CBS Los Angeles. “We wanna take care of these kids and make sure they know we don’t forget.”
Families from all over the United States flew to Orlando for the festivities. The younger children often find out the people sitting next to them have gone through the same hardships. Jade Penix and her family, who were flying on a plane from Los Angeles to Orlando, found this out firsthand, Bored Panda reported.
“It’s just important because of all of the bonding that we get to do,” Jade told CBS News. Her son Desmond “gets to find friends who are just like him, and I get to find ones that have lost just like me.”
“It’s easier when you find people who’ve gone through the same thing. So it’s an amazing experience. All of the different tributes they have, and all of the different balloon releases where I get to write a message to my husband — it’s amazing,” she added.
During the five day event, there comes a point where the fallen are recognized by a standing American flag. In 2018, there were over 600 standing flags honoring those who gave their life for this country.