Gary Sinise Foundation, American Airlines send children of fallen heroes to Disney World

Gary Sinise Foundation, American Airlines send children of fallen heroes to Disney World

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — American Airlines and a national foundation hosted a send-off celebration for hundreds of children and families of fallen military heroes Saturday morning at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The Gary Sinise Foundation Snowball Express is hosting a five-day holiday trip to Disney World for more than 1,700 family members, with many from North Carolina and South Carolina.

[ALSO READ: Actor Gary Sinise takes 1000 Gold Star children to Walt Disney World]

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Before departing from Charlotte, families got to experience a Winter Wonderland-themed celebration to begin the trip.

Tiffany Kennedy was there to honor her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hickman.

“It's an emotional experience, but it’s also fun,” Kennedy said. “It’s fun to get together with the ones you've made friends with over the years.”

The trip is fun and gives families an opportunity for inspiring programs and support.

“Everything, Disney, it's literally the happiest place on earth, and it's just the best experience that some of us could have to come here with other people that understand our situation,” said Ayden Hickman whose father was killed in Afghanistan. “And to be able to have such a great time.”

Snowball Express began in 2006 with a letter by a fallen soldier to his wife, only to be opened if he died, with a wish to go to Disneyland.

“Once you volunteer, it's something you don’t ever forget,” volunteer Debbie Booher said.

Families from other states such as Alabama, Rhode Island, Florida, Connecticut, Louisiana, Georgia and more will also be meeting at Disney World for the holiday trip.