Dec 9, 2010 8:27 PM by Zach Thaxton

'Snowball Express' treats families of fallen soldiers

Dozens of children and family members of Southern Colorado military service members who have died in support of U.S. military operations overseas are on a five-day trip to Dallas this weekend aimed at making a difficult holiday season just a little bit brighter.

They boarded an American Airlines flight dubbed the "Snowball Express" en route for a fun-filled extended weekend of concerts, a rodeo, a ballet, amusement parks, and a jam-packed schedule of games and entertainment.  It's an opportunity for distraction for children who have lost a parent in U.S. military action since the September 11, 2001 attacks.  The holiday season is often the most difficult time of coping for children of fallen service members, as well as their spouses and siblings.

"It's just supposed to be an all-out fun, get-your-mind-off-things kind of vacation," said Amber Bachman, traveling with her son Tyler.  "For them to pour out these blessings for us, we're very grateful for that."

The trip is all-expenses-paid vacation, funded by the non-profit Snowball Express with flights provided by American Airlines.  "They will be very tired when they get home on Monday because we have lots of activities planned for them," said Lother von Wolfseck, General Manager for American Airlines in Colorado Springs.  Airline employees dressed as holiday characters to greet the Snowball Express travelers.

"This is really a great chance to meet people who truly understand what it's like to go through losing someone in the military," said Taylor Garvern, 18, whose father died in 2009 from a heart attack suffered while on the USS Eisenhower.  "When I'm going through a hard time, I can call up anyone that I've met from Snowball and they just understand."

1,300 family members of fallen servicemembers departed from 48 cities across the country for the weekend-long event.


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