North Dakota Families Fly on Snowball Express - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

North Dakota Families Fly on Snowball Express

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Since 2006, the Snowball Express has been providing hope and joyful memories to children of fallen military heroes who've served on active duty since 9/11.

North Dakota families have been no exception to this, four families have gone on Snowball Express trips every year since 2006. Thursday morning, Hailee McCormick, Messa Kuehl, Kiley Kuehl, Sophie Rishling, and Eric Linde, all boarded the Snowball Express flight to Texas.

It wasn't hard for the families to get up early and catch their 7:40 a.m. flight to Texas departing on the Snowball Express. The trip is not only taking them to warmth, but helping them create new memories after the four families lost loved ones in military conflicts since 9/11.

"It's all donated, sponsors, volunteers. It's a free trip for these families, it's our way of giving back and letting them know that we will never forget," explains Survivor Outreach Coordinator for the North Dakota National Guard Sara Blazek.

Eric Linde lost his father in Afghanistan in 2012, but is looking forward to meeting other kids who have gone through the same grief, and to make some new lasting memories.

"Get to see how the other people dealt with it. And free vacation get away from school for a couple days and warm weather," Eric says. 

Every year the North Dakota National Guard has helped send four families on the trip, which is something families are very thankful for.

"He always said that the North Dakota National Guard would be with us throughout if something happened to him. He's a career soldier and this is exactly what he expected," says Adrienne Linde as she talks about the husband she lost in Afghanistan. 

While in Texas, the families will spend four days attending sporting events, dances, amusement parks and more. All while creating new memories and connecting with other families who've also lost a loved one on active duty.

"This trip is about creating happy memories during the holidays for the kids who have lost a parent to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Sara Blazek, Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator for the North Dakota National Guard in Bismarck. "They will reconnect with friends and make new friendships during the weekend filled with events."

Supporters are invited to welcome the families back to Hector International Airport on Monday, December 16, at 2:50 p.m.

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