On Friday, January 25th, 2013 the Gary Sinise Foundation proudly presented our Snowball Express Hollywood Adventure!
We welcomed 20 children, 12 parents, and even 2 grandparents from the families of our nation's fallen heroes to Los Angeles for a day-long experience of fun, food, and friendship. Despite an unusually rainy day in LA, everyone had a marvelous time. We'd like to take a moment to share with you some of the many memories we made!
We started the day by welcoming the group to the set of CSI:NY, where we had breakfast in the NYPD police station. Gary greeted all 16 families, each arriving from all over Southern California, with autographed pictures and Gary Sinise Foundation wristbands.
Next, we toured the CSI:NY interrogation room and prop room before making our way to the lab and forensics set. The group dusted for fingerprints and even lifted one from a hubcap while learning about real-life DNA testing. Everyone took a turn sitting behind Detective Mac Taylor's desk overlooking the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan.
As we were snapping a group shot in the CSI:NY lab, a crew of LAPD officers arrived to inform us that we were about to be led by police escort to Universal Studios!
All 18 cars lined up outside the CBS lot while the crew and staff from CSI:NY lined the streets, waving American flags and saying goodbye to the Snowball Families. Thank you all!
With lights flashing and sirens blaring, the police escort then lead our entire caravan past every single stoplight on Ventura Boulevard on our way to Universal Studios!
After entering the park, we headed straight to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Restaurant where we ordered from the "Lt. Dan Menu" complete with fried shrimp! We even played a little Forrest Gump trivia while we ate.
From there, we headed to the Universal VIP Lounge where everyone received a rain poncho, a gift bag with a T-shirt, and a front-of-the-line VIP pass for the day. The Universal team then led us out to the front of the park for a special surprise – right by the Universal Studio’s Globe, we were met by Marilyn Monroe, Shrek and Scooby Doo! After snapping a few photos with our new friends, we made our way down to the lower lot for the new rides and attractions, including the new Transformers ride!
The rest of the afternoon was left as free time for the families to share, after which we met again for dinner at Buca di Beppo. We had pizza, pasta, ravioli, chicken parmesan and brownies for dessert. Delicious!
But before everybody went their separate ways, the group had a chance to share how important the Snowball Express community has been to their families throughout the healing process. Everyone was so gracious and appreciative to Gary and the Foundation for all the fun they had that day. It was a deeply moving moment for each of us.
We can't wait for the next Gary Sinise Foundation Hollywood Adventure supporting our military families! A special thank you to all of our sponsors and supporters. Your kind generosity helped make this wonderful day possible.
As always, thank you for your support. God bless you.