FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Beginning on Thursday, Dec. 12, nearly 1,800 children and spouses of fallen military will travel to Dallas/Fort Worth onboard American and American Eagle flights for the eighth annual Snowball Express trip. The all-expense-paid vacation takes place through Monday, Dec. 16. Snowball Express is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization established in 2006 with the mission of bringing hope and new happy memories to the children of military heroes who have died while on active duty since September 11, 2001.
As the official airline of Snowball Express, American and American Eagle are donating nine chartered flights and 38 commercial flights to transport families traveling from 75 cities across the United States, as well as international locations including Puerto Rico and Guam. Hundreds of American and American Eagle employees volunteer their time to host send-off parties, staff the trip and assist with activities.
"All of us at American Airlines offer our sincerest gratitude to U.S. military servicemen and women and their families around the world for the sacrifices they have made to protect the freedoms our country enjoys," said Doug Parker, American's CEO. "Snowball Express respectfully honors the memory of fallen men and women who so bravely served our country, and we are honored to be part of this incredible experience year after year."
Flights are made possible by the American Airlines Kids In NeedSM program, which provides worldwide support for children and their families, and for organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life for children. Airfare for some families will be provided by the nonprofit organization Air Compassion for Veterans, which is funded in part through a partnership with Fuel Smart, American's employee-led fuel conservation program. In keeping with its continued work to support families of the fallen, the USO (United Service Organizations) Warrior and Family Care provided a grant for this year's Snowball Express.
"We are thrilled to bring our Snowball families back to North Texas for the fifth consecutive year," said Francis "Buck" Kern, Executive Director, Snowball Express. "This time of year can be very difficult for these military families who have lost a loved one, and it is extremely moving to hear our participants talk about their Snowball Express experience. As our event continues to grow each year thanks to the outpouring of support from our community and sponsors, we are thankful to count on American's unwavering commitment and look forward to continuing these partnerships for years to come."
American and American Eagle employee volunteers will host special send-off celebrations at each of the departure airports. Festivities will include holiday decorations at gates and onboard aircraft, refreshments and entertainment. Upon arrival at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), families will be greeted with "Wizard of Oz" themed decorations, including a yellow brick road through the airport, Munchkin Land and a Kansas Field of Poppies. They will also enjoy a variety of activities as they are welcomed to North Texas. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
This year's Snowball Express events include a special performance at the LOOK Cinemas, entertainment at the Main Event, American's own Snowball Express/Texas Music Project Talent Experience, a trip to the Fort Worth Zoo and a concert by Academy Award-nominated actor Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.
About American Airlines Group
American Airlines Group (NASDAQ: AAL) is the holding company for American Airlines and US Airways. Together with American Eagle and US Airways Express, the airlines operate an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to 339 destinations in 54 countries from its hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. American's AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles programs allow members to earn and redeem miles for travel and everyday purchases as well as flight upgrades, vacation packages, car rentals, hotel stays and other retail products. American is a founding member of the oneworld® alliance, whose members and members-elect serve 981 destinations with 14,244 daily flights to 151 countries. Connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir or Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines and follow US Airways on Twitter @USAirways and on Facebook.com/USAirways
About Snowball Express
Over the past decade, true American Heroes, the men and women of the United States Military and their families, have made and continue to make extraordinary sacrifices to protect our freedom. The mission of Snowball Express, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is to provide hope and new memories for the children of fallen military heroes who have died in active duty since 9/11. Since 2006, Snowball Express has hosted an annual event that brings children of fallen military heroes together for a few days of fun. In 2012, nearly 1,700 children and surviving spouses attended the annual Snowball Express event. Snowball Express has no paid staff. It has approximately 25 volunteers who work year round on the "main event." Ninety four percent of all collected cash donations go directly to the event. When in-kind donations of more than $3 million are included, the total percentage of funds expended for fundraising and administrative costs is less than one percent. www.snowballexpress.org.
About Air Compassion for Veterans
Air Compassion for Veterans (ACV) is the oldest and largest charitable veterans' air transportation organization in the United States. Operating under an earlier name, it began serving veterans in 1972. When the surge in need from Iraq and Afghanistan ramped up service, the program name ACV was adopted. Over 47,000 service members and their families have been transported since the start up. Flights are provided for veterans, active duty military, and wounded warriors and/or their adversely-affected family members to ensure they receive the finest medical and rehabilitative care available.
About the USO
The USO lifts the spirits of America's troops and their families millions of times each year at hundreds of places worldwide. We provide a touch of home through centers at airports and military bases in the U.S. and abroad, top quality entertainment and innovative programs and services. We also provide critical support to those who need us most, including forward-deployed troops, military families, wounded warriors and families of the fallen. The USO is a private, non-profit organization, not a government agency. Our programs and services are made possible by the American people, support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff.
In addition to individual donors and corporate sponsors, the USO is supported by President's Circle Partners: American Airlines, AT&T, Clear Channel, The Coca-Cola Company, Grand Canyon University, jcpenney, Jeep, Kangaroo Express, Kroger, Lowe's, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Procter & Gamble and TriWest Healthcare Alliance and Worldwide Strategic Partners: BAE Systems, The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft Corporation and TKS Telepost Kabel-Service Kaiserslautern GmbH & Co. KG. We are also supported through the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381). To join us in this patriotic mission, and to learn more about the USO, please visit uso.org.
SOURCE American Airlines