Forrest Gump actor Gary Sinise teamed up with other actors to surprise the children of fallen service members. Each year, the actor hosts an event called Snowball Express through his foundation.
Normally taking place in Walt Disney World, Snowball Express is intended to treat military families to an unforgettable experience. In past years, that meant the families would be flown to the parks, where they would enjoy a vacation packed with special events. Due to Covid, the past two events were virtual.
While the experience is less traditional, the virtual Snowball Express was still a treat. Many celebrities made guest appearances. In addition to Sinise, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Steve Buscemi, and many more appeared. Frozen star Idina Menzel even performed “Show Yourself” from Frozen II.
Other activities throughout the weekend kept families entertained. Bindi and Robert Irwin gave them a look at a real animal sanctuary. Penn and Teller performed a magic show. Gentry Stein gave yo-yo lessons.
Gary Sinise Gives Back
This marks the 10th anniversary of the Gary Sinise Foundation. Inspired by the tragic events of 9/11, Sinise decided to devote and time and resources to helping them and their families. He participated in many efforts such as building The Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance. The monument honors the fallen first responders from the tragedy.
As a result, Sinise became more involved with disabled veterans. He then realized there was another group that needed support: their children. After all of his work to support veterans, the actor decided to follow his calling.
“My personal mission is what led to the founding of the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011,” Sinise wrote on the foundation website. “With the help of supporters like you, we will continue to expand this mission in support of our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, and their loved ones, while upholding the importance of keeping our country strong by taking care of those who serve. I believe we can never do enough to express our gratitude and give support to the men and women who willingly go into harm’s way to keep us safe and free, but we can always do a little more.
“While our programs and projects have certainly made a difference in many lives, there’s much more work to be done,” said Sinise. The foundation sponsors many programs. The R.I.S.E. Program provides affordable, accessible housing. The Relief & Resiliency Program offers “complete support” to recovering veterans. The Community Outreach & Education Program supports bridging soldiers and their communities while educating the next generation of heroes. The First Responders Outreach program funds for equipment, PPE, emergency relief, and training for all first responders.
“Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted,” Sinise stated. “We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security. While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”