Forrest Gump star Gary Sinise takes 1000 children of veterans to Disneyland
Gary Sinise, the actor who famously portrayed the character of Lieutenant Dan in the movie Forrest Gump, has taken 1000 children of veterans to Disneyland.
The performer made this heartwarmingly-altruistic gesture through his own philanthropic organization The Gary Sinise Foundation. The charity, which assists US Servicemen, Servicewomen, and their families, partnered up with American Airlines to provide 1,700 family members of fallen soldiers (most of them children) the chance to experience Christmas early by whisking them off to Disneyland.
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The all-expenses-paid annual trip is part of the GST's Snowball Express initiative, which first began in 2006, after the organization received a letter written by a fallen soldier to his wife. In it, the serviceman in question expressed a wish for his family visit Disneyland, and since then, the Snowball Express was created to take children and surviving spouses on a healing retreat to the Happiest Place on Earth.
Commenting on the 2019 trip, the foundation told Fox News 13: "The holidays can be especially challenging for grieving families. Each December, we host a five-day experience for 1,750+ children of the fallen and their surviving parent or guardian. As a therapeutic retreat with a blend of fun and inspiring programs, these families can lean on their peers for support."
Sinise himself added: "They’re dealing with the grief and the loss of a loved one, a mom or a dad who have died in military service, and all these kids are going through the same thing, so the power of all of them in the same place at the same time, many of them — hundreds of them — was very healing for a lot of them."
Sinise, who played Forrest Gump's commanding officer Lt. Dan (who loses both legs in the Vietnam War) has been a longtime supporter of US veterans, and also raises money through his charity rock group: The Lt. Dan Band.