Non Profit, American Airlines Team Up To Give Gold Star Families Holiday Get-Away
TULSA, Oklahoma - It was no ordinary day for a special group of military families.
One non-profit is helping the families of fallen soldiers relax and get away.
American Airlines partners with the nonprofit Snowball Express to put on the event on every year and help Gold Star Families make some happy memories, just in time for the holidays.
Captain Walker was killed in the line of duty in 2009.
He left behind his wife and his then, 5-year-old daughter Kloe.
"He never thought twice about being in the military, that was, right out of high school what he did and what he wanted to do," said Kloe.
"He made a huge sacrifice and I still thank him for that," she said.
Kloe is one of 5 Green Country Gold Star Families heading to Dallas for an all-expenses-paid vacation.
In Dallas, they will meet up with more than 1,600 other Gold Star Families from across the country.
"We still hang his stocking. We still talk about him all of the time. Holidays are a little bit hard but this event most definitely makes it better," Kloe said.
The children meet at the gate for a Christmas party complete with cookie decorating, snacks, and face painting.
Then they are escorted onto a plane; a winter wonderland in itself.
The flight attendants, gate attendants, and pilots are all American Airline employees, volunteering their time.
"The kids love it. We decorate the plane, it takes us three or four hours and we all get dressed up in something," said American Airlines volunteer Shari Jenkins.
A community of people come together for this event every year, putting smiles on the faces of children who need it the most.
"I'm a veteran myself. I haven't lost anybody in the war like these kids have or these wives or spouses and it is very important that they are known to be remembered and not forgotten and that is what it is all about," said David Priest with Patriot Guard Riders of Oklahoma.
The Gold Star Families will be flying back into Tulsa on Wednesday.