American Airlines, Snowball Express Serve up Texas-Size Fun for Children of Fallen Military Heroes
FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Beginning Dec. 9, nearly 1,700 spouses and children of fallen military service members will once again enjoy Texas' renowned hospitality as they arrive on American Airlines and American Eagle flights for an all-expense-paid visit to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. The trip, which runs through Dec. 13, has been planned in conjunction with Snowball Express, a nonprofit organization established in 2006 to bring a few days of fun and friendship to the families of those who lost their lives while serving our country.
For the third year, Snowball Express returns to Dallas/Fort Worth, with American as the official airline. American and American Eagle are donating nine chartered aircraft and providing free travel on several commercial flights for families traveling from 75 cities across the country, as well as international locations including Germany, Guam and the Philippines. Selected families will travel on flights provided by the nonprofit organization Air Compassion for Veterans. These flights are funded in part through its partnership with Fuel Smart, American's employee-led fuel conservation program.
"Snowball Express has special meaning for all of us at American and American Eagle," said Tom Horton, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of AMR (AMR) and American Airlines. "It's a way to express our gratitude to the families of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms. We are proud of the hundreds of our employees who eagerly volunteer every year to serve these families."
American and American Eagle employees will host special send-off receptions at each of the departure airports. Festivities will include holiday decorations at gates and onboard aircraft, refreshments and entertainment, and even visits from Santa Claus. In addition, public officials in cities across the United States have proclaimed Friday, Dec. 9, "Snowball Express and American Airlines/American Eagle Day."
"December can be a very difficult time of year for these children and their surviving parent who must now go through the holiday season without their hero," said Francis "Buck" Kern, Chairman of the Board, Snowball Express. "With the help of American Airlines, we are able to bring children together from all over the country. The healing that occurs when these children come together is truly remarkable. They will also receive the healing experience of seeing thousands of patriotic Americans show their love and gratitude. These children and surviving parents will know that they are loved and not forgotten and that this country deeply appreciates the sacrifices that they have made."
At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Snowball Express families will arrive to a "winter wonderland" featuring the Coca-Cola polar bear. Youngsters will have the opportunity to take a photo with the bear and try their hands at a ring-toss game to win a stuffed-bear toy. There will be other winter-themed, carnival-style games to help celebrate the families' arrival. The Coca-Cola Company is generously supplying complimentary Coca-Cola products.
Support for this sixth annual Snowball Express is also being provided by additional sponsors: the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, Neiman Marcus, the Fort Worth Airpower Foundation and Greyhound Corporation.
Among this year's Snowball Express events are a welcome tribute for the families at the American Airlines Center at Victory Park; a private performance at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo, where the children will participate in some of the events; a visit to Six Flags Over Texas; and a concert by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band at Gilley's, the storied Texas honky-tonk.
Snowball Express families can also look forward to a day of music and fun with the Booker T. Washington School of Performing and Visual Arts at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas. A Sunday highlight will be a private performance by Dallas native and Las Vegas ventriloquist/entertainer Terry Fator, the first winner of NBC-TV's "America's Got Talent" program and current headliner at The Mirage in Las Vegas.
About American Airlines
American Airlines, American Eagle and the AmericanConnection® carrier serve 260 airports in more than 50 countries and territories with, on average, more than 3,300 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 900 aircraft. American's award-winning website, AA.com®, provides users with easy access to check and book fares, plus personalized news, information and travel offers. American Airlines is a founding member of the oneworld® alliance, which brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business, enabling them to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. Together, its members and members-elect serve more than 900 destinations with more than 10,000 daily flights to 149 countries and territories. American Airlines, Inc. and American Eagle Airlines, Inc. are subsidiaries of AMR Corporation. AmericanAirlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection, AA.com, and AAdvantage are trademarks of American Airlines, Inc. (NYSE: AMR).
About Snowball Express
The mission of Snowball Express, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is to provide hope and new memories for the children of fallen military heroes who have died in active duty since 9/11. Since 2006, Snowball Express has hosted an annual event that brings children of fallen military heroes together for a few days of fun. In 2007, nearly 800 children and more than 300 surviving spouses attended the annual Snowball Express event. Snowball Express has no paid staff. It has approximately 25 volunteers who work year round on the "main event." Ninety four percent of all collected cash donations go directly to the event. When in-kind donations of more than $3 million are included, the total percentage of funds expended for fundraising and general administrative costs is less than one percent. www.snowballexpress.org.
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SOURCE American Airlines