Touching Base: Gold Star families from across the nation connect at ‘Snowball Express’

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SEATTLE  --  If seeing is believing, just beyond the entrance to the “Snowball Express," a great adventure awaits.

The annual event honors fallen service members by serving their families.  The USO Northwest and other volunteers are sending kids off with gifts from Santa.  And flight attendants from American Airlines are standing by, ready to connect them with other Gold Star families from all over the nation.

“We are headed back to Orlando this year for a couple days of relaxation, thoughtfulness, fun, and we are ready to go,” says Kathryn Webster, a flight attendant for American Airlines.

Bodie and his mom, Kailyn Dumaw, traveled all the way from Stanwood.

“After, you know, nine years since my husband passed, we’ve adjusted.  I think that to be with other people that know what you’ve gone through is, at least for a short time, we get to bond with them, and it’s just really cool that we get to be with everybody,” says Kailyn.

“We’re all part of a club we don’t want to be part of, you know,” says Maria Williams.

Maria and her son, Grant, have made this trip three times now.

“I was so grateful because there’s different levels of widowhood, you know.  The older ones will kind of take the newer ones, and it’s just an unspoken rule that we include everyone.  We take care of the newer ones and kind of lead them on their way,” says mothers Stephanie Groepper and Tiffany Burgess.

Maybe we’re seeing the makings of a great adventure, or at the very least making new friends and a little magic.

“You and your families are special and important, and you are loved,” says Bobby George with the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Many people helped put this event together, including the USO Northwest, the Gary Sinise Foundation and American Airlines.  This year, more than 1,700 Gold Star families got to take part.  Click here for more information on how you can get involved.

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