connectVideoGary Sinise Foundation to send Gold Star families to go to Disney
Snowball Express supports Gold Star families. Actor opens up about his mission to help our heroes.
Gary Sinise opened up about how his namesake foundation partnered with Snowball Express for the treatment of Gold Star families to Disney travel for the holidays.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sinise, 63, revealed that the Snowball Express started in 2006 by “a couple of people that wanted to focus on the cure and help the children of our fallen heroes.” The founders, together with American Airlines to send a few hundred kids to Disneyland that year.
Well aware of the “Forrest Gump” star’s long time support for veterans and military families’ causes, Snowball Express came Sinise in the spring of 2007, and showed him a video of the event. He has signed for the support of the December 2007, Snowball Express, which brought more children to Disneyland, and Sinise performed for them with his Lt. Dan Band. In 2011, he found the Gary Sinise Foundation, Snowball Express eventually folded.
“They are dealing with the grief and the loss of a loved one, a mother or a father who have died in military service, and all of these children go through the same thing, so the strength of all of them at the same place at the same time, many of them — hundreds of them was very healing for many of them,” Sinise said.
MARINE VET GETS SMART HOME (AND INDEPENDENCE) OF THE GARY SINISE FOUNDATION
“You can’t underestimate the power of bringing all these children together in a happy environment, because we try to bring joy to them for the holidays, just before the christmas holidays, that is a difficult time for a child that lost a parent — so bringing all these children together at the happiest place on earth in Disney World was very special,” he continued.
The trip to Disney was a combination of free roaming to go on the rides, but it began with an opening dinner and ceremony on Main St. approaching Cinderella’s Castle.
There is also a flag garden with more than 600 flags for each of the cases a member of the families in attendance.
“There is a lot of healing that goes on. We have counseling, we have all kinds of joint activities that are focused on the healing aspect of a gold star family member, who mourn, but we also want to be the hope and the joy and happiness, and all that.”
GARY SINISE FOUNDATION SENDS HUNDREDS OF GOLD STAR FAMILIES TO DISNEY WORLD
“It is heart-warming, it gives a good feeling to see the children laughing and having a fun time, but it is also heartbreaking, because you know why they are there,” he explained of the Snowball Express travel. “They are there as a result of loss and grief, and because they are a military family who paid the ultimate price.”
“You see children walking around with the knobs of the death of their hero, their father, or whoever it was, they sometimes have T-shirts with photos … Some of the children that I see every year. They come back and they are just a little bit bigger each year, and they will wear that key, or that T-shirt. I am only the honor of their beloved and to show them that we love them.”
In addition to bringing joy to children of fallen soldiers, Sinise says that his foundation works together with other aspects of the military and veteran experience, and that he would like to expand their work in the prevention of military and veteran suicides and improving the mental health of soldiers and veterans.
“Prior to the Gary Sinise Foundation, I was busy with so many military charities that do many different things, that I saw a lot of need in all these different areas,” he said. “When I sat down to the structure of my own military necessity, and non-profit, a legal people said:” What is your mission? What is the one thing that you do?” I said: ‘We are going to do a lot of things!”