Actor Gary Sinise seems to be an all-around nice guy. He is a great actor, always friendly in interviews and, it turns out, extremely charitable.
Do not believe us? Well, more than 1,700 Gold Star family members recently traveled to Disney World courtesy of a program ran by the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Dubbed the “Snowball Express”, the trip saw the children and spouses of fallen soldiers loaded onto 15 airplanes and jetted off to an all-expenses-paid five-day vacation in Orlando, Florida.
The families were given their own sendoff at the airport in Chicago, with supporters cheering them on dressing in festive gear.
At Los Angeles, the children were welcomed by Santa and Mrs. Claus, who arrived by helicopter and gave the children gifts and photo opportunities.
It was at Nashville that the traveling party were afforded perhaps the biggest fanfare, though. The airport itself came to a standstill, with the crowd treated to a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Speaking about the event, Sinise told KCAL9: “Each one of these children who is going on these airplanes has lost a parent in military services—either combat-related or illness or unfortunately suicide sometimes. We wanna take care of these kids and make sure they know we don’t forget.”
One Facebook user, Jen Tringale, uploaded a video to social media capturing the scene.
“I witnessed an international airport come to a complete stop today … At the Nashville airport I walked out into the concourse to this scene @americanairlines was flying a plane full of children who had lost a parent in combat, to Disneyworld on an all expenses paid trip and they threw a party for them at the gate❤️But when they announced them over the loudspeaker and they lined up to board the plane the whole airport literally stopped and sang the national anthem with military present in salute. Most every person standing around, myself included was bawling at the sight of these kids and spouses who have paid so great a price for our country. To see all of this at Christmas time was so humbling. Seeing the general public in an airport stand still to honor these kids was simply beautiful.” Tringale added to her post.
The Gary Sinise Foundation took over Snowball Express in 2017, but the actor has supported the program for a good many years.
Sinise is now 64 years old and has long been a campaigner for rights pertaining to veterans. He’s volunteered for USO tours, helped to build homes for wounded veterans and continues to be vocal on his support.
“A tremendous spirit of volunteerism and giving back to our special Snowball families of the fallen. It’s been a great year. More to come in 2019. We Remember,” Sinise wrote on Twitter.
What a truly great man Gary Sinise is!