Gary Sinise Foundation Kicks Off Its Snowball Express Program for Gold Star Families with Presenting Sponsor American Airlines

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The annual retreat will offer five days of therapeutic and inspiring programs to support families of fallen military heroes.

“Now an official program of the Foundation," said Gary Sinise, Founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation. “We are grateful that American Airlines continues their tradition of traveling our Gold Star families from all around the country for this amazing healing event.”

The holidays can be especially challenging for grieving families of fallen military heroes. On December 8, 2018, the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Snowball Express program will host a five-day experience for 1,722 children of the fallen and their surviving parent or guardian. This therapeutic retreat will offer fun and inspiring programs, encouraging critical peer-to-peer support for these families.

No matter where a Gold Star Family may be in their grieving process, Snowball Express aims to provide a memorable experience where they can access support, create new bonds, make positive memories, and build a community with the only people who can truly understand their loss: each other.

Snowball Express began in 2006, with a letter written by a fallen soldier to his wife, only to be opened should he perish in battle. 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.

The Gary Sinise Foundation will unite these Gold Star Families in a way that honors that initial letter from the fallen soldier- at Disney World®. In addition, families will have direct access to complimentary resources such as counseling services, application support for educational scholarships, education and access to medical and government benefits, financial counseling and assistance, mentoring, and aid for those with special needs or disabilities. Snowball Express will offer a variety of activities and entertainment, including a concert from Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.

“While Snowball Express has been around since 2006, this is its first year as an official a program of the Foundation and our first year at Disney World,” said Gary Sinise, Founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation. “We are so grateful that American Airlines continues their tradition of traveling our Gold Star families from all around the country for this amazing healing event. We can’t wait to see our 1,722 Snowball family members!”

This trip is made possible by the Foundation’s generous donors and presenting sponsor American Airlines, who provide the air travel, flight crews and hundreds of team member volunteers, donating their time and energy to make it a memorable experience for each family. There will be 12 chartered flights, departing from 26 cities to pick up the Snowball Express families.

“This event is a favorite among the American Airlines team and I am proud to work with so many generous colleagues, not only those who have donated their time to fly and serve the families in the air, but those who have spent countless hours coordinating gate-side sendoffs in scores of airports around the country,” said David Seymour, Senior Vice President, Integrated Operations at American Airlines and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. “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. As a company, and as a nation, we owe it to them to never forget the sacrifice that continues long after the war is over.”

To learn more, please visit http://www.garysinisefoundation.org.

About the Gary Sinise Foundation:

The Gary Sinise Foundation honors America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need. Through its R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment), specially adapted smart homes are being constructed for severely wounded veterans and first responders nationwide. Each one-of-a-kind home is customized to ease the everyday burdens of a wounded hero, their family, and caregivers. Other programs include Relief & Resiliency Outreach, Invincible Spirit Festivals, Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band, Arts & Entertainment Outreach, Serving Heroes, First Responders Outreach, and Soaring Valor. Its latest program, Snowball Express, serves the children of our fallen military heroes, surviving spouses, and Gold Star families. For more information, please visit http://www.GarySiniseFoundation.org.

About American Airlines Group
American Airlines and American Eagle offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. American is a founding member of the oneworld® alliance, whose members serve more than 1,000 destinations with about 14,250 daily flights to over 150 countries. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL. In 2015, its stock joined the S&P 500 index. Connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at http://www.Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines.

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