'Snowball Express' Brings Together Oklahoma Children Of Fallen Military Heroes
TULSA, Oklahoma - The holidays can be hard for a lot of folks, especially for military families who have lost a loved one, but a special trip to Texas is helping to lift that heavy weight this season.
There was a flurry of commotion Sunday at Tulsa International Airport's American Airlines gate A10.
Christmas celebrations, dancing elves and meetings with Santa.
"We're going to do a lot of stuff," said Dalton Coon, Coweta Junior High student.
But, this is just the beginning of what's in store for nine Oklahoma military families.
They're headed to the Snowball Express in Dallas, a special trip that gives military children who lost a parent a few days of fun and friendship.
"I'm thinking of one day joining the military and finish what my dad started," Coon said.
Each child here shares a special, yet tragic bond.
"I look at him as a hero, big hero," Coon said.
Together, they can reflect and relate to the heartache of losing a parent.
"It never gets easier every year, it just gets a little different," said Oklahoma City resident Leah Rao.
Nearly 1,800 families from across the United States will join together for the Snowball Express, which includes a Walk of Gratitude, Medieval night and a private concert.
"It's something that she can see for herself because it's hard to explain to her who her dad was in words, so maybe if I can show her by actions of other people who care and by the fun experience, it can give her a little bit more of an understanding," Rao said.
But more than anything, the four days away gives these kids a chance to let loose, laugh and just simply have fun.
The families don't have to pay anything for the trip, and they'll return to Oklahoma Thursday.
Snowball Express is a non-profit organization that "provides hope and new happy memories to the children of military fallen heroes who have died while on active duty since 9/11," the organization's website states.
Since 2006, Snowball Express has brought children together from all over the world for the four-day experience including activities, sporting events, dances, amusement parks and more.
"Parents of children of the fallen often tell us that their child is reserved, withdrawn or unwilling to talk about their loss," the website states. "Participating in Snowball Express changes that, making each child feel special and giving them an opportunity to share their feelings about losing something so precious, their parent."
Click here for more information about the organization.