Disney Joins The Gary Sinise Foundation To Honor Gold Star Families
Earlier this week, we brought you the news that hundreds of Gold Star families were boarding the Snowball Express and heading to Walt Disney World.
In total, more than 700 families of fallen military heroes descended upon Walt Disney World to spend time with the only people who can truly understand their loss- each other.
The Walk of Gratitude
An especially moving moment in the five-day retreat was the sunrise “Walk of Gratitude.” To support and honor the military families, more than 1,100 VoluntEARS made their way to the Magic Kingdom before 5 a.m. to take part in the memorial walk.
With the sun slowly rising, family members walked from Town Square towards Cinderella Castle as Cast Members cheered them on.
Before arriving at the Magic Kingdom, each family member wrote a personal message to their fallen hero on a scroll which was then placed in a magic caldron in front of Cinderella Castle.
During the procession, children of the fallen service members rang bells to send their messages up to their lost parents.
A Moving Ceremony
As the families arrived at Cinderella Castle, they were greeted by Mickey Mouse and leaders from the Gary Sinise Foundation. At this time, the scrolls in the magic caldron were sent skyward toward heaven.
“While our hearts are heavy at the circumstances that brought these families together. I am grateful we can wrap our arms around them. That we can honor them while remembering their loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom,” said actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise. “As we approach the holiday season, I am so glad that we are able to bring these deserving families together to create new and wonderful memories at the most magical place on earth, Walt Disney World.”
An Important Event
While the ceremony was special for everyone involved, the proceedings especially hit home for Dan Barton, a senior manager of Disney financial systems and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
“Support for military families is important for us here at Disney,” said Dan. “It is an honor to volunteer and recognize our fallen brothers and sisters who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice. It is very special to be able to help bring a little magic to a child who has gone through incredible pain and loss of a loved one. As a Marine veteran, losing a loved one to military-related service hits close to home for many of us who’ve served in our nation’s military.”
Walt Disney World will continue to work with the Gary Sinise Foundation for its annual Snowball Express event. In fact, the gathering has been extended for a second week. From December 6- 13, the resort will honor more than 350 families of fallen first responders.
To learn more about the Snowball Express and the Gary Sinise Foundation, visit https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/