Gary Sinise, best known for his role as Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, just sent over 1,700 Gold Star families to Disney World this week as part of his charity, the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Called “Snowball Express,” this is an annual event that sends hundreds of kids along with their living parent or guardian to Disney World, honoring one fallen soldiers’ last wishes for his own family.
Get those tissues ready, this is a tear-jerker.
The Snowball Express has been a vital part of the Gary Sinise Foundation for over ten years, ever since the wife of a fallen soldier shared her and her husband’s story with the organization.
She received a letter from her husband while he was deployed, but was instructed to only open it if he did not make it back from active duty. Sadly, he passed, and she opened that letter. In it, he had just one wish for his family.
That she would take their children to Disney World.
That letter was the starting point for the Snowball Express, and now Gary Sinise and his charity aims to send as many Gold Star families as they can to Disney World each year around Christmas time to honor that soldier’s last wish.
Last year, a staggering 1,722 children and their parents or guardians went to Disney World. The charity teamed up again this year with American Air to send just as many kids to the happiest place on earth.
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Over 1000 Gold Star Children travel with surviving parent or guardian, 1,722 in all, via @americanair to Disney World today as part of our @garysinisefoundation Snowball Express program. This charter left Los Angeles this morning and I got to take this photo with them before they left. I’ll join up in a few days. Have fun kids! We love you!
In a world where Hollywood movie stars all seem to have a bad reputation, Gary Sinise seems to be a genuinely good guy running a great charity. The Gary Sinise Foundation’s steadfastness in their goal of helping veterans and their families has earned the charity much respect.
In the past, the foundation has helped build and maintain homes for wounded veterans that have mobility needs. The foundation has also assisted veterans who need help with their mental health, like those recovering from traumatic brain injuries.
In addition to his work with the charity, Gary Sinise is also part of the Lt. Dan Band, which was formed in 2004 and named after his iconic character from Forrest Gump. The band plays every year at the Invincible Spirit Festival tour, which is put on to support wounded vets and their families.