It’s a once in a lifetime trip for the families of those who have lost their lives serving our nation. For the last 13 years, American Airlines and the Gary Sinise Foundation have taken several families for a week’s vacation free of charge on something called the “Snowball Express.”
Now dozens of families from across the Kansas City area have received a ticket for the “Express.”
Danette Weems with American Airlines and a team of volunteers organized this entire send off. They all feel so dedicated to these young passengers and their parents
“This gives the children an opportunity to reunite with other families who have experienced a loss such as them,” Weems said. “I don’t have children of my own, so it’s events like this that give me an opportunity to bond with the children.”
They even withstood the cold on the tarmac, alongside a few superheroes, to wave the families off on their adventure.
There’s one thing that each family holds in common–they’ve each lost a loved one who died serving our country.
Kids coming from Kansas City surprised the St. Louis travelers with pom-pom snowballs only fitting for the “Snowball Express.” The episode was a reminder that families from across the entire country share this special bond.
“The goal is for them to be with people who have been through a similar loss and just try to come together and find some joy over the holidays,” said Erica Allen, General Manager.
The trip is five days of therapeutic programs and support for families missing a loved one this holiday season, families like Jessica Skalberg and her 7-year-old son, Carter.
“My husband was Sergeant James Skalberg and he was killed June 27th, 2012 about 14 days before my son turned one. And we were high school sweethearts, together for over 15 years and we are just so lucky that I have Carter,” voiced Skalberg.
Now her son is in the first grade, eager for new adventures.
“Roller coasters, because I have not been on one,” expressed Carter Skalberg.
This will be Carters first trip to Disney World.
Thousands of families across the country will be a part of the experience in Orlando, with him.
Skalberg says she’s grateful for the opportunity.
“We are from the Army family and we are just so excited to be here and experience this time with you knowing other families that have lost a loved one, so we are very grateful,” exclaimed Skalberg.