Gary Sinise Takes 1,000+ Gold Star Kids to Disney World

What a trip.

Actor Gary Sinise, who pretty much devotes his non-working hours to taking care of veterans and their families, has helped do it again.

In conjunction with American Airlines, Sinise's foundation flew more than 1,000 family members of deceased servicemen and women on a five-day, all-expenses-paid vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. As the Foundation puts it, "the holidays can be especially challenging for grieving families," which is why they're providing "a therapeutic retreat with a blend of fun and inspiring programs."

The Gary Sinise Foundation inaugurated the annual "Snowball Express" almost 15 years ago. The ball got rolling after Sinise learned of a letter -- written in advance, just in case -- from a KIA vet to his wife. I've never been able to find the vet's name, but among other things, he wrote that he wanted to take the family to a Disney theme park when he returned home from war. That didn't happen, of course, but since 2006, the Sinise Foundation has flown thousands and thousands of gold star families on trips for "guilt-free fun and beneficial resources in a stress-free environment." The name Snowball Express comes from a Disney live-action comedy released in 1972.

This year's Express included over 1,000 children and another 750 surviving family members. That's a lot of flight time donated by American Airlines, delivered -- you'll love this part -- in the form of a dozen chartered flights, including water cannon salutes.

You can learn more about the Snowball Express on this page at the Gary Sinise Foundation's website, and if you're interested in making a donation, there's a page for that, too.

Thanks, Lt. Dan!