On Friday, Nov. 30, more than 1,700 children and spouses of fallen military traveled to North Texas for Snowball Express
— a five-day all-expenses-paid visit to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. This year’s seventh consecutive visit was planned with Snowball Express, an all-volunteer nonprofit established in 2006 with the mission of bringing hope, joy and new memories to children who have lost a parent on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
As the official airline of Snowball Express, American donated nine chartered aircraft and provided free travel on select commercial flights for families traveling from 54 cities across the country, as well as international locations including Puerto Rico and Guam. The trip was made possible by the American Airlines Kids in Need
program, and some families traveled courtesy of Air Compassion for Veterans
. As part of its continued effort to support families of the fallen, the USO Warrior and Family Care
program provided a grant for the 2012 Snowball Express.
After special send-off receptions at each of the departure airports, this year’s Snowball Express events included:
- Family Arrival Day – Throughout the day, families had the opportunity to visit with the other families. That evening, our guests attended a special event at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, complete with Cirque du Soleil acrobats and a visit from Santa. The center’s annual tree lighting celebration served as a welcome event for our Snowball Express families.
- During Their Stay – The Dallas Children’s Parade, Six Flags and special programs with the Texas Music Project and FIRST Robotics Foundations were on the agenda for our special guests.
- A Big Day in Fort Worth – The big welcome event and tribute to the families of our fallen heroes this year was in the Fort Worth Stockyards and included the “Walk of Gratitude,” an opportunity for the public to come out and show their support for the sacrifice of these families. After a cattle run, lunch and special rodeo, the families were entertained at Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk, with a private concert by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.
- Grand Finale Day – The Talent Showcase at the Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas, produced by the Texas Music Project and the Septien Music Group, showcased talent from several of our Snowball Express children along with professional entertainers. The Music Hall at Fair Park hosted the grand finale “Show of Shows” — a special tribute to our families and high-energy holiday performance.