Children of fallen soldiers take magical flight - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Children of fallen soldiers take magical flight


The holidays can be a tough time for those mourning the loss of a loved one. But in the metro one organization is hoping to make this holiday season a little brighter for families of fallen soldiers.

"You get to see your friends every year, it's lots of fun. There's games, they take you to rodeos, movies," said Colton Munger.

"You basically get to get spoiled the whole time and it's amazing," said Jakweli Gist.

"You really don't know what it is until you go," said Jendayah Gist.

Every year thousands of children of fallen soldiers fly to Dallas for the Snowball Express. On Thursday, 28 kids and a family members boarded a free flight at the Kansas City International Airport.

"I think they feel a sense of pride, they realize their fathers' sacrifice allowed them to be here and they are grateful," said Rah Gist, the wife of a fallen soldier.

"It tells me that I'm not alone. At school and at home and outside, there's no one in the whole wide world. When I come to Snowball I know that people care about us and we're not alone and we can go through it together," said Jendayah Gist.

Jendayah's dad Milton died nearly seven years ago in Iraq.

"He was silly, funny, he left of legacy of serving people," she said.

This is Jendayah Gist's third trip on the Snowball Express with her brother Jakweli and her mom Rah. The kids say Snowball is a blast, but the moms like Rah Gist say it also gives kids a chance to grieve.

"They don't feel so different, they fell like someone gets what they're going through and somebody recognizes that they are special and important and special and suffering," Rah Gist said. "But they also need to have fun - that's the awesome part of Snowball Express."

Even kids like Munger, who was only 1-year-old when his father died in Iraq, said they feel like they're not alone when they attend the annual event.

"It's a thing for kids of fallen soldiers. You get to see your friends every year, it's lots of fun," he said.

This is Colton's eighth Snowball Express and nearly every year his grandmother Tanya Bush is by his side.

"It's the only time a year these children get to be with someone that's like them, who gets it," his grandmother said. "To think that a child doesn't have pain when he's that small is absurd. He knew his dad was gone before I did. He cried and he cried and he cried."

American Airlines donates the charter flight to Dallas and it takes hundreds of volunteers to put on the Snowball Express once they land.

Click here for more information on the Snowball Express.

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