“Snowball Express” airplane ride helps children of fallen soldiers cope

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - What makes the flag on the mast wave? Courage, said the cowardly lion in the "Wizard of OZ." At Lambert Airport there were some courageous souls about to embark on an adventure.

"Just actually walking in here and seeing everyone welcoming you and helping with your luggage and helping you through the checkout," says Regina Thompson. "We didn't have to do anything. So it was really exciting. Keeps you quite humble."

Regina Thompson and her family had their sights set on the Snowball Express. It`s a holiday trip and healing experience for children with a parent who died while serving in the military since September 11. 2001.

"They have an all expense paid weekend," says Cindy Laboube the American Airlines Event Coordinator. "They get to meet other families that are in the same boat they're in. They make lifelong friends."

Our plane started in Detroit, then Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City. At each stop, a snowball welcome for the new passengers. In all, 1,800 children, parents and guardians were heading to Dallas Texas this weekend.

"It's like a great chance for everybody to bond and make new friends and have great memories," says 11-year-old Paige Goetsch. "It's really fun."

As the airplanes neared its Dallas destination, the control tower readied a gate for their precious cargo.

"It helps when you have other people who know how you feel to like, cope with the situation so I really appreciate it," says Lunden Brent whose lost his Dad this year.

"It's been extremely helpful not being the strange person going through it on their own," says six time attendee Lisa Morrissey. "Very young widows experiencing something you never thought you'd experience."

For these military families, the next few days will be filled with fun, walking red carpets, attending concerts and forming new friendships. But also, never forgetting the sacrifices that were made by their dads, husbands, moms or wives.

"But this trip helps us remember that we should be thankful that they protect our country," reminds Goetsch.

As we arrived, you didn't have to be the Wizard of Oz with your THd, doctor of "Thinkology", to see that the Snowball Express is an adventure you won't soon forget.