First Responders are the heroes of our communities. In the darkest moments of our lives, First Responders are there, rushing towards danger to shield us from harm. We can never do enough to thank these brave heroes or the families who serve alongside them for their service and their sacrifice. Supporting and uplifting our First Responders is an integral part of the mission of the Gary Sinise Foundation. This past week, the Foundation was honored to host more than 1,000 children and spouses/guardians of our fallen First Responder heroes for their very first Snowball Express "Disney in December" Event.
Over the course of 5 days, these deserving families were given the opportunity to make new memories, experience the magic of Disney World, and connect with the only people who truly understand the healing journey they are on...each other. Thanks to our presenting sponsor, American Airlines, families arrived at airports across the country to find fully decorated terminals and planes, and American Airlines personnel committed to providing families with a wonderful experience as they traveled to Orlando, FL.
In our social lounges, our wonderful volunteers hosted numerous activities, giving families a chance to form new bonds with each other and create connections that will last a lifetime. We are truly grateful to our volunteers for donating their time and energy and for making the lounges such a welcoming environment for these special families.
Each family in attendance is navigating the loss of their fallen hero. This annual event is about honoring those lost while supporting the families left behind. The Remembrance Garden is a quiet place for families to sit and spend time with their hero, a sacred space and a place of healing. It serves as the embodiment of our solemn promise to never forget those who gave their life to protect others and that we will support and uplift their families this day and every day.
The Walk of Gratitude at Disney’s Magic Kingdom began down Main Street, USA, where First Responders and Disney cast members lined the street, greeting families with a hero's welcome as they made their way toward Cinderella’s Castle. There, with the help of Disney magic, families sent messages of love and remembrance to their fallen hero.
Disney in December is topped off by a rocking concert by The Lt. Dan Band! Families were given the red carpet treatment as they entered the concert venue at EPCOT. And when the LTDB took the stage, there was endless dancing, hugs, and smiles as far as the eye could see!
On behalf of Gary and all of us at the Gary Sinise Foundation, we would like to send our warm thanks to the following sponsors of our Snowball Express Disney in December Event. Thanks to our presenting sponsor, American Airlines, and our corporate partners at Amazon, American Tire Distributors, Owens Corning, Regal Cinemas, Sunbelt Rentals, and WoodmenLife. And a special thanks to our sponsor and host, Disney.