"After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I began devoting much of my time supporting the men and women who were deploying in response to those attacks - the brave service members who, each day, protect our cities and defend our great country," Sinise wrote on his website. "Having veterans in my own family, and having been involved with supporting our military veterans going back to the 80s and 90s, it was after that terrible day I decided to become much more active in devoting my time and resources to serving our defenders however and wherever I could."
Sinise certainly went above and beyond. He visited local NY firehouses, befriending firefighters and first responders and raising money for The Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance in honor of the 416 firefighters and one chaplain lost in the terrorist attack. But his support didn't stop with a firehouse; Sinise found a calling in supporting our military community through the Disabled American Veterans organization. He wrote, "I found it my mission to do all I could to support our wounded heroes and their families. And by getting involved with many other veterans initiatives, I began to support the children of the fallen, Gold and Blue Star Families, and wherever I could serve and honor a need within the military, veteran and first responder communities."
One of our favorite things Sinise and the Gary Sinise Foundation do is their annual Snowball Express event. This year, in partnership with sponsor American Airlines, they're taking over 1,800 surviving spouses and children to Disney World.
Here's what he posted on Linkedin:
Since 2018, the Foundation has taken over 12,400 children of fallen military heroes & their surviving parent/guardian on the Snowball Express, bringing a profound sense of solace, community and hope to those who have sacrificed so much.
Participant Rachel Lavana Alquaddomi wrote the following review about the Snowball Express: "We attended [Disney] in 2019, the year of our loss. I cannot express what an impact this made on the kids. Loss is an incredibly isolating experience, but Snowball gave us a sense of community and hope. It helped us build new relationships with other survivor families, who continue to be cherished friends. We are so grateful!! And, the kids had a fantastic time and still talk about it often!"
The Sinise Foundation does much more than just the Snowball Express. To learn more about the incredible work they're doing and how to get involved, click here.