Hollywood actor Gary Sinise, perhaps most notably known for his role as Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump and Detective Mac Taylor in CSI: NY, recently worked with his eponymous charity foundation to host his annual Snowball Express event, uplifting over 750 families of fallen U.S. service members ahead of the holidays.
This particularly wholesome event has been hosted by the Gary Sinise Foundation since 2018 and taken place at the Walt Disney World Resort ever since. However, this year, on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers opted to host the event online for the first time.
“Imagine you are a child and you’ve just been told your parent is never coming home,” said Sinise in a video recently shared on his foundation’s social media channel, explaining that “At the Gary Sinise Foundation we serve thousands of the children of our fallen heroes through our Snowball Express program.”
The actor continued, “And on December 11th we brought 1800 of these children together for a virtual online event of healing and joy, and many of my pals sent in messages of support.”
Amongst some of Sinise’s pals attending the virtual event were such Hollywood stars as his Forrest Gump co-star Tom Hanks, Toy Story series voice actor Tim Allen, Shazam! actor Zachary Levi, former Superman star Dean Cain, Monsters Inc. voice actor Steve Buscemi, The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus, Dallas Buyers Club’s Matthew McConaughey, The Simpsons voice actor Joe Mantegna, and even British chef Gordon Ramsey.
Since it was first founded by the Forrest Gump actor in 2011, The Gary Sinise Foundation has made its mission to serve the nation by “honouring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.”
To that end, the foundation’s Snowball Express program seeks to honour those who were killed in the line of duty as well as those who were left behind by providing them with “fun experiences and beneficial resources in an emotionally safe and inclusive environment.”
According to the official website, this particular program also seeks to inspire the families of fallen U.S. service members through their grieving and connect surviving children and spouses develop bonds with a community that will help them “learn, grow, and make lasting memories with new friends.”
As of writing, over 9,295 children of fallen military heroes, as well as their surviving parents/guardians, have attended the Snowball Express since its aforementioned founding in 2018.
In a 2019 recap of the foundation’s debut year, Sinise explained, “We have over one thousand children coming from all over the country on 12 different American Airlines flights, so that we can give them a great time at Disney World.”
He continued, “These are all children that have lost their parent in military conflict or service, and so we just want to give them as much joy and love, and light right before the holidays as possible to make sure that they know that we won’t forget them.”
“The holidays are a particularly difficult time for a child who’s lost a parent,” the actor further explained, asserting that everybody at the Gary Sinise Foundation wants to “treat [the children] very special as they deserve.”
The Forrest Gump actor went on, “They’ve been through a lot and we don’t forget it, and just seeing these kids smiling and excited, and having a great time…that warms my heart,” before wrapping up the inaugural event with a concert by Gary Sinise’s very own Lt. Dan Band.
What do you make of Gary Sinise’s humanitarian Snowball Express online event for families of fallen U.S. service members? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments section down below!