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A Special Sendoff for Survivors

COLORADO SPRINGS AIRPORT, Colo.— Children play with their new ballon creations at the gate in the Colorado Springs Airport, Colorado, December 9, 2017. Falcons and balloon swords were a favorite among the children, sword fights were abundant throughout the party. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Alexis Christian)

COLORADO SPRINGS AIRPORT, Colo.— Children play with their new ballon creations at the gate in the Colorado Springs Airport, Colorado, December 9, 2017. Falcons and balloon swords were a favorite among the children, sword fights were abundant throughout the party. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Alexis Christian)

COLORADO SPRINGS AIRPORT, Colo.— Parents and children alike mingle with leadership from surrounding bases at the gate in the Colorado Springs Airport, Colorado, December 9, 2017. Snowball Express invites surrounding military leadership to come speak and interact at events to help remind families that they are not forgotten by their military community. The Snowball express ethos it to create a family, united by shared convictions to remember, honor, inspire and heal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Alexis Christian)

COLORADO SPRINGS AIRPORT, Colo.— Parents and children alike mingle with leadership from surrounding bases at the gate in the Colorado Springs Airport, Colorado, December 9, 2017. Snowball Express invites surrounding military leadership to come speak and interact at events to help remind families that they are not forgotten by their military community. The Snowball express ethos it to create a family, united by shared convictions to remember, honor, inspire and heal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Alexis Christian)

COLORADO SPRINGS AIRPORT, Colo.—Col. Eric Dorminey, and his wife Jennifer, talk with one of the Snowball Express children during the Snowball Express sendoff at the Colorado Springs Airport, Colorado, December 9, 2017. Snowball Express is an annual event meant to honor fallen military heroes, and give their children a chance to form long lasting friendships and memories with other survivors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Alexis Christian)

COLORADO SPRINGS AIRPORT, Colo.—Col. Eric Dorminey, and his wife Jennifer, talk with one of the Snowball Express children during the Snowball Express sendoff at the Colorado Springs Airport, Colorado, December 9, 2017. Snowball Express is an annual event meant to honor fallen military heroes, and give their children a chance to form long lasting friendships and memories with other survivors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Alexis Christian)

COLORADO SPRINGS AIRPORT, Colo. -- Three volunteers from the 21st Medical Group, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, and 46 family members of fallen service members departed for the Snowball Express in Dallas, Texas, December 9, 2017.

Snowball Express was founded in September 2006 with one goal in mind, to provide hope and new experiences to the children of fallen military members. Since then, they have grown into a large organization aimed at helping give children the chance to foster new friendships and healing by connecting families.

Kim Johnson, Cincinnati, Ohio, lost her son, Army Capt. Quincey Johnson, in 2013. She came to Colorado to fly to this event with her grandchildren.

“They enjoy themselves,” Johnson said. “They enjoy seeing their friends from all over. It means a lot to them, and I think it helps them, getting to see the support and what this is all about.”

The sendoff at the Colorado Springs Airport was full of activities to get these families excited for the beginning of Snowball Express. There were balloon animals and magic, food, music, and the falcons from the U.S. Air Force Academy made an appearance.

As much as this event is for the children, the adults who accompany them also appreciate these events. Johnson who attended the National Good Grief Camp in Washington D.C. not long after the loss of her son says that these events help bring comfort to everyone involved.

“I see the appreciation for the military members who have lost their lives,” she says, “and that means a lot.”

Leadership from Schriever and Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson, came out to send off the families.

“It’s an honor to honor those who have given so much,” said Col. Eric Dorminey, 21st Space Wing vice commander. “We want to let these families know that they are important to us.”

Members of military leadership talked with the children, parents, and volunteers, and engaged in balloon sword fights with the children.

One part that the children and parents all look forward to is the water arch, and the 21st Civil Engineering Squadron Fire Department made it happen.

“The water arch is something that makes this event real for my kids,” said one parent waiting to board the plane. “Seeing the fire trucks and the water, it’s a really special moment for them.”

“To have our volunteers from the Med Group and our firefighters come out and do something this important is great,” said Dorminey. “They take time out of their day, out of their week to come and do something like this. They are making sure that we are taking care of these families who have sacrificed so much.”

This five day event is only one of the survivor support programs available for those going through hard times. Snowball Express is held specifically in December to help alleviate the difficulties that most families say they feel during the holidays, and gives them a chance to be around other people who understand their grief.

For more information go to www.snowballexpress.org

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui