Thanks to a generous contribution from the Gary Sinise Foundation, over 1,000 kids in Gold Star families—families who have lost a loved one in the military—got a magical free trip to Walt Disney World last week.

The foundation flew a total of 1,750 people to Orlando, Florida for the trip of a lifetime to the Magic Kingdom. This trip is an annual event hosted by the the Gary Sinise Foundation, dubbed the “Snowball Express.” Each year, families of fallen soldiers are whisked away to an exciting destination and this year it happened to be Disney World.

“Each one of these children who are going on these airplanes have lost a parent in military services—either combat related or illness or unfortunately suicide sometimes,” Sinise told CBS Los Angeles. “We wanna take care of these kids and make sure they know we don’t forget.”

While visiting the park, the guests were given “we remember” pins to wear and a special event was held to honor their lost family members as 600 American flags were lined up to represent the families who had lost a relative in combat.

One Facebook user captured a particularly moving moment on video as travelers stopped to honor these kids before they boarded one American Airlines flight at Nashville International Airport in Tennessee. You’ll need a tissue for this one for sure.

Sinise—who famously played Vietnam War vet Lt. Dan in the 1994 film Forrest Gump—started the foundation to help real life veterans.

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Never forget. 🇺🇸 #snowballexpress2018

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The CSI: NY actor and father of three told CBS Los Angeles, “The most important thing about [Snowball Express] is that these children don’t feel alone. There’s a lot of healing and a lot of bonding and a lot of friendship that goes on that helps them through the rest of the year.”

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Gary Sinise via Instagram

 

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