Written by : Sandra Bienkowski 

The Snowball Express Came to Town!

Yearly event makes special trip for families of fallen heroes.

The spirit of the holiday season can live well past December, especially in the eyes of some special children.

Recently, Live Happy had the opportunity to be a small part of a great cause—working with Snowball Express to restore some of the magic to children who lost moms or dads to military combat. Snowball Express brings together 1,800 children and family members of fallen military members for a week of happiness and holiday festivities in the Dallas area.

Flights of fancy

More than 150 flight crews donate their time to fly 64 chartered flight segments picking up children from 30 U.S. cities to fly into Dallas-Fort Worth. 

On the ground, volunteers work behind the scenes to arrange for more than 5,000 meals and snacks to be served on the flights and help with departure send-off parties at the airport.

In the spirit of small happiness acts, Live Happy donated books of happiness facts and quotes, travel mugs and notepads as gifts to surviving parents and grandparents as they escorted their kids on the flights into Dallas.

“The surviving spouses and grandparents on the trip were thrilled with their Live Happy gifts,” says Reginia Browning, an international purser at American Airlines and a volunteer flight crew liaison for Snowball Express. “Their faces lit up with happiness and an indelible impression was made upon their hearts,” says Reginia.

Five days of fun

Snowball Express originated eight years ago with a request to American Airlines for some complimentary seats for a few families, and has now ballooned into five days of fun where children attend local rodeos, Christmas plays, concerts, and athletic events around the Dallas area.

The organization hopes to create new happy memories for children of fallen military heroes and honor the supreme sacrifice those families have made. 

After this community-building event, many children who are withdrawn, reserved or unwilling to talk about their losses of their parents begin to share some of their feelings of loss. The weekend is a time for families to support each other and express their shared grief.

Walk of Gratitude

At this year’s event, kids saw a screening of the movie Annie and a talent show. Actor Gary Sinise, a long-time advocate for military personnel and their families, performed with his Lt. Dan Band.

The weekend concluded with the annual Walk of Gratitude. This procession allows American Airlines and the Dallas/Fort Worth community, including local military personnel and law enforcement, to recognize family members and honor the sacrifices made by those who served.

“One mom told me she would read a Live Happy quote a day for the next 50 days to keep her spirits up,” Reginia says. Live Happy is enhancing lives from coast to coast.”

Visit snowballexpress.org for more information.

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