What a momentous gesture for these gold star families.


The holiday season can be filled with joy, but can also be an especially tough time of the year if you've lost a loved one. Actor Gary Sinise—who notably played Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the classic 1994 film Forrest Gump— wants to make the difficult time of year that much brighter for the children of fallen soldiers and their surviving parent or guardian with a special trip to Disney World.

This month, as part of the annual "Snowball Express" initiative that supports the children of military heroes, the Gary Sinise Foundation in partnership with American Airlines, sent more than 1,700 family members of military members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to Disney World for an all-expenses paid five-day vacation.

Gary Sinise Foundation Snowball Express 2019 2
Credit: Gary Sinise Foundation

Snowball Express first began in 2006, movingly sparked by a letter written by a now deceased soldier to his wife,  that was only to be opened if he died in battle. According to a Gary Sinise Foundation press release, "while the letter expressed many things, one wish was that they visit Disneyland. From that letter, Snowball Express was created to bring together the children and surviving spouses of fallen U.S. military heroes for a healing retreat." In 2017, Gary Sinise Foundation officially took over the program, and it's been amazing to watch it evolve and grow.

Check out the video from last year's festivities below. (Warning: Grab the tissue box.)

The program helps children and spouses of armed forces members who have died while on active duty since September 11th, 2001. If you'd like to learn more or make a donation, visit GarySiniseFoundation.org.

We hope these incredible kids and their family members enjoyed their time at Disney World. We might not be with you on Main Street U.S.A but we're cheering you on and forever grateful for your loved ones' sacrifices every day.