Flight attendants at American Airlines volunteered to help mark a very special start to this year’s Snowball Express – an annual event now run by the Gary Sinise Foundation which saw some 1,722+ children of fallen service members, as well as their surviving parents transported to Walt Disney World for a fun but therapeutic retreat.
The huge event got underway on December 8, with special American Airlines charter flights from across the United States flying to Orlando, Florida with over 650 families of fallen service members onboard. More than 1,000 AA team members volunteered to take part, with many dressing up as their favourite Disney characters.
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Hold on tight …we’re about to board the SNOWBALL EXPRESS!!! ☃️❄️ #snowballexpress began in 2006 and has continued to grow each year, serving over 1,500 children of our fallen military soldiers who have lost their lives while on active duty since 9/11. Last year in 2017, snowball express became an official program of the Gary Sinise Foundation. American Airlines will continue as the program presenting sponsor. Each year, American Airlines donates a fleet of charter flights to bring the families of the fallen soldiers together. The annual event would not be possible without American Airlines, and it’s hundreds of aastews working the flights and other airline work group volunteers! 🙌🏽 In other exciting news, this 4 day extravaganza has moved to Disney World…said to be the happiest place on earth, keeping it in line with the mission statement on the Gary Sinise Foundation website: ‘Providing hope and new happy memories to the children of military fallen hero’s who have died while on active duty since 9/11.’ Let’s fill up our social media with photos and videos of these kids having fun for the next few days! Some of them have been meeting up once a year and have literally grown up together…others, it may be their first time. Let’s show them our support … Tag #aastews and #snowballexpress if you are volunteering on one of these flights. My goal is to repost at least one photo from each city, on their way to Orlando! I’m looking forward to seeing all of those smiles over the next 4 days! 😀🙏🏼🇺🇸
American brought families from 80 cities from around the world to Disney World in Orlando, Florida on over 100 flights. 12 of those flights were special charter services which stopped at up to 3 different points to collect children and their families as they crisscrossed the U.S. to get to Disney World.
“This event is a favorite among the American team,” explained David Seymour, who’s American’s Senior Vice President of Integrated Operations, as well as a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.
“Gary Sinise Foundation’s Snowball Express is an impressive event that continues to grow every year, and it is our deep privilege to partner with the Gary Sinise Foundation to honor our Gold Star families,” Seymour continued.
Children got a very special sendoff with American’s volunteer workers going all-right to decorate gate areas and even planes with elaborate and over the top decorations.
2018 marks the 13th year of the Snowball Express. It began in 2006 with a letter written by a fallen soldier to his wife that would only to be opened should he perish in battle. Among the many things expressed in that letter was a wish that the family visit Disneyworld – from that letter, Snowball Express was born.
@AmericanAir Happy #volunteer crew taking #goldstarfamilies to #DisneyWorld @GarySiniseFound @GarySinise Have FUN kids! #SnowballExpress2018 #grateful #honor #service #loveoneanother #lovemyjob #aastews #motherdaughter #teamwork ❄️✈️❄️✈️❄️✈️❄️✈️❄️✈️❄️ ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? pic.twitter.com/Cjyg5uaPls
— Linda Rossi (@LRos123) December 9, 2018
Darling daughter Kathryn and I were just ONE of the #motherdaughter #flightattendants #volunteering on Charter flights ✈️ for #SnowballExpress2018 We picked up #goldstarfamilies at TUL-BNA-SAV and dropped them off in MCO @AmericanAir @GarySiniseFound #DisneyWorld #grateful ????????☺️ pic.twitter.com/5KJKGwjIKr
— Linda Rossi (@LRos123) December 9, 2018
It was an honor to serve families of fallen service members with a special charter flight today COS-ELP-DFW for an epic Disney trip. #SnowballExpress2018 through the @GarySiniseFound @AmericanAir @envoyaircareers pic.twitter.com/k47TXnUm5L
— Captain Ric Wilson (@CaptRicWilson) December 8, 2018