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Snowball Express returns from pandemic larger than ever

Fifteen local military families headed to Florida on the Snowball Express Saturday.

INDIANAPOLIS — A special scene returned to the Indianapolis International Airport Saturday for families of fallen Hoosier heroes. 

Fifteen local military families headed to Florida on the Snowball Express.

They joined hundreds of families nationwide who will spend the next few days at Disney World thanks to the Gary Sinise Foundation. An accomplished actor, Sinise played wounded veteran Lieutenant Dan in the movie "Forrest Gump." 

Part of the foundation's mission is to help children and spouses of fallen military members make new memories.

"Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted," Sinise says on the foundation's website. "We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security."  

"I think the holidays are always bittersweet since their dad died," said Jessica White, a passenger on this year's express. "And I think that connection to other kids that have been through the same thing really helps them through it, knowing that they're not alone."

The Snowball Express was paused for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year it is sending 1,900 families on the trip, which represents the most in the program's history.

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