Healing Holidays

Like Santa Claus, Snowball Express is on a mission each year to bring comfort and joy to children during the holidays. For the more than 8,000 kids between 5-18, who have endured the loss of a military parent, it couldn’t come at a better time.
 
Since 2006, Snowball Express has hosted a holiday extravaganza for military families who’ve lost a parent in the line of duty. The annual event honors fallen heroes, strengthens bonds and celebrates new friendships. Most of all, it reminds families that their loved one’s sacrifice won’t be forgotten. 
 
Since the inaugural celebration, the organization’s efforts have snowballed into a massive healing event, where more than 2,000 supporters have participated in fun-filled activities, whether it’s a rodeo in Mesquite, or a Six Flags adventure. 
 
Highlights have included Las Vegas headliners and “meet and greets” with world-champion sports figures. Advisory Board member Gary Sinise, an Oscar-Nominated Actor and co-star of CSI New York and Forrest Gump, even provides the background score for the past 5 years with his Lieutenant Dan Band.
 
The most important happenings don’t necessarily take place under the spotlights, however. Children and adults gather by age group in special hospitality rooms and that’s when the healing truly begins. 
 
In 2011, over 1,700 military families came together in Dallas, Texas. Thanks to an American Airlines’ donation, they arrived in style on nine chartered jets from 26 cities; some from as far away as Guam, Germany, Puerto Rico and Alaska. 
 
Snowball Express events have become so popular, a flurry of smaller “Snowflake” happenings have swept over the U.S. The organization even caught First Lady Michele Obama’s attention, ranking as one of her top three military charities in 2011. Not surprising, since 99.9% of Snowball Express is driven by volunteers and 80% of their annual costs are covered by in-kind donations.
 
Multiple activities are being developed throughout the year with the monies received, including plans for a camp project, as well. After all, families could use a little healing over the summer months, too.

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