DFW International Airport - There was a flurry of holiday cheer at DFW International Airport Sunday as more than 1,700 children and spouses of fallen military heroes arrived for an experience of a lifetime.
In its 11th year, the Snowball Express treats these military families to five days of fun and fellowship, understanding this time of year can be especially painful.
“I lost my father four years ago. He was United States Army,” said Cliff Maurer, a participant. “It's been a great healing process to be around hundreds and hundreds of kids who understand what you are going through.”
“These kids are hurting. Some have pictures of their moms or their dads on a pin that they are wearing,” said Elise Eberwein, an American Airlines employee.
American Airlines flew the participants in from 87 cities worldwide on nearly 100 chartered and commercial flights.
“You know American lost two airplanes at the 9/11 event and this came about as a result of that and it’s just a way to give back and show appreciation for those who've given so much,” said Eberwein.
One thousand American Airlines employees donated their time and services out of gratitude for the sacrifices made by so many.
“Even though we are doing something really positive and it's in the spirit of the holidays, there's a poignancy to it that's not lost on anyone who’s volunteering here,” said Eberwein.
It’s a holiday tradition with a focus on healing, replacing sorrow with smiles.
“It means everything in the world. Christmas is very hard since losing my husband and this brings a little bit of light to our lives this time of year,” said Kori Poor, a participant.