Forrest Gump star Gary Sinise has flown 1,000 children of fallen soldiers to Disney World.
On Saturday, December 7, the actor – who played Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the 1994 film – took around 1,700 family members to Orlando, Florida for a five-day, all expenses paid trip.
It’s part of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Snowball Express initiative, which began in 2006 when a fallen soldier had written a letter wishing he and his family got the chance to go to Disneyland. Like that, the event was born – and it looks like Christmas has come early for these families.
The 64-year-old – also known for his role in CSI: New York – took to Twitter to share this year’s trip, posting a photo of the families on-board just before takeoff.
The actor wrote:
Today begins our GSF Snowball Express #14. Over 1000 Gold Star Children travel with surviving parent or guardian, over 1,750 in all, via our travel partner @AmericanAir to Disney World as part of our @GarySiniseFound Snowball Express program.
Posting a video of him welcoming a child onto the plane, Sinise added: ‘This charter left Los Angeles this morning with 91 kids, 176 in all, and I got to take these photos with them before they left. I’ll join up in a few days. Have fun kids! We love you!’
Each December, the Gary Sinise Foundation partners with American Airlines to provide free vacations to families from across the US.
With more than 3,500 likes, it’s unsurprising that people are praising the actor. One user wrote: ‘May God bless you for what you do to make sure these families are not forgotten.’
Another person tweeted: ‘My niece and nephew are part of this trip this year, I’m so grateful to your organisation. They are so excited and it’s great to see them so happy.’
Describing the trips, the Gary Sinise Foundation’s website says:
The holidays can be especially challenging for grieving families. Each December, we host a five-day experience for 1,750+ children of the fallen and their surviving parent or guardian.
As a therapeutic retreat with a blend of fun and inspiring programs, these families can lean on their peers for support. And this year we’re bringing Snowball Express to Walt Disney World Resort!
No matter where these families are in the grieving process, we hope to inspire them to believe anything is possible. By providing guilt-free fun and beneficial resources in a stress-free environment, we’re creating a community to learn, grow, and make lasting memories with new friends.
What a class act.
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