Snowball Express and American Airlines bring holiday cheer to Gold Star Families

American Airlines has made this announcement:

On Saturday, Dec. 9, nearly 1,000 American Airlines team member volunteers will bring more than 1,600 children and spouses of fallen service men and women to Dallas-Fort Worth for five days of fun and fellowship at the 12th annual Snowball Express celebration.

 

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Upon arrival at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), families will be welcomed by American team member volunteers. During their visit, families will experience a Walk of Gratitude on Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Fort Worth Stockyards to honor their sacrifice. Later in the week, they’ll enjoy a “knight” of jousting fun at Medieval Times, a private concert by Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band and much more.

 

“The holiday season is an extremely difficult time of year for the survivors of our fallen military heroes,” said Francis “Buck” Kern, executive director of Snowball Express. “We are honored to work with American Airlines to bring together these families. Connecting them to each other helps them heal, understand they aren’t alone and helps the children understand that it is OK to laugh and smile again. This life-changing gift that American Airlines provides for our Snowball Express families is truly remarkable.”

As the official airline of Snowball Express, American Airlines is transporting families traveling from 87 cities worldwide via nearly 100 chartered and commercial flights. American’s 11 charter flights will be coming to DFW from every corner of the country, some stopping at up to three locations to pick up additional participants along the way:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Killeen/Fort Hood, Texas
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • New York City (JFK)
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Pensacola, Florida
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Sacramento, California
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Seattle, Washington
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Washington, D.C. (DCA)

“This event is a favorite among the American team and I am proud to work with so many generous colleagues, not only those who have donated their time to fly and serve the families in the air, but those who have spent countless hours coordinating gate-side sendoffs in scores of airports around our system and arranging a first class arrival into DFW tomorrow morning for the 12th consecutive year,” said David Seymour, senior vice president – Integrated Operations at American and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. “Snowball Express is an impressive event that continues to grow every year and it is our deep privilege to partner with them to honoring our Gold Star families.”

American Airlines team members volunteer their time in a variety of ways, including hosting special send-off celebrations at each of the departure airports, staffing the flights, assisting with activities, “decking the gates” with holiday decorations and providing refreshments and entertainment — all to make sure the Snowball Express families have an unforgettable experience each year.

“I’ve served as the Team Airlift coordinator for five years working with our pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and countless others to serve our Gold Star families,” said Jeff Graham, Airlift Coordinator and DFW-based First Officer at American. “Serving each of them is a privilege that we take on with love, compassion and pride.”

Snowball Express is a nonprofit organization established in 2006 with the mission of bringing hope and new memories to the children of military heroes who have died while on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

To learn more about Snowball Express, visit SnowballExpress.org. Additional information can also be found at aa.com/letgoodtakeflight. Follow this year’s festivities on social media with the hashtag #SnowballExpress2017.

Photos: American Airlines.

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