On Dec. 7, the Snowball Express left the Little Rock National Airport for four days of wonder at Disneyworld. Since 2006, the mission of Snowball Express has been a simple, yet profoundly important one: Providing hope and new happy memories for the children of military fallen heroes (Gold Star Children) who have died while on active duty since 9/11.

In December each year, children are brought together from all over the world for a four-day experience filled with fun activities. In past years, the destination has been Dallas, Texas. Last year and this year, under the Gary Sinese Foundation, the children and their guardians were taken to Disneyworld.

Among those who wished them well with fanfare and fun, were the United States Daughters of 1812, Simeon Bradford and Baseline-Meridian Chapters (U.S.D. 1812), the General T.J. Churchill Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR), the Battlin’ Betties, the General Society War of 1812 (GSW1812) and military from the Little Rock Airforce Base and the Arkansas National Guard (military). All wished the three Gold Star Families, comprised of 5 boys ages 6, 8, 9, and two 17 year olds.

U.S.D. 1812 provided each child and mother with a “goody” bag made up of snacks, puzzles and other treats to enjoy on their flight. GSW 1812 gave each child a $25 gift card. Also assisting in the send-off were employees of American Airlines (AA), who furnishes the transportation. All were encouraged to “dress up” in costume.

The families needed to be at the airport and checked in by 5:30 a.m. From there they were escorted to security and entered the area through a Flag line by the PGR.

Four days later, the groups were again at the airport to welcome the children and parents home and assist with their luggage.

Since 2014, the U.S.D. 1812 has shown support for the Gold Star Children with send-offs and welcome homes.

Cutline: Flag line for the Gold Star families

Cutline: Two Gold Star Children hug an unidentified Patriot Guard Rider

Cutline: Gold Star Children, their guardians and well wishers from the United Daughters of 1812, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Patriot Guards Riders, and military among others pose for a picture at Little Rock National Airport.