GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Families of fallen service members are getting a trip of a lifetime to start making new memories, thanks to a non–profit called the Snowball Express.
The mission of Snowball Express is to provide hope and new memories for the children of fallen military heroes who have died in active duty since 9/11.
With Santa hat in tow, six-year-old Stuart and his three siblings are ready to board their private plane to Dallas “to remember my dad,” says Stuart.
The trip is in memory of their father, Justin Keenan, a Fruita Monument High School grad and U.S. Air Force recruiter killed five years ago in a car accident, on his way to training.
“He left one morning on his way to work and never came home,” says his widow, Heather.
That wreck left a hole in their lives, but from goodie bags and kid-friendly champagne, to a party weekend, the Snowball Express is trying to make their season bright.
“I think it's absolutely wonderful that they do this for families like my family who have lost a loved one in active duty,” says 15-year-old Clayton.
Snowball Express hosts an annual event that brings children of fallen military heroes together for a few days of fun around the holidays.
“Emotional, but fun at the same time,” says nine-year-old Joel.
The Keenans will join 3,200 other military families, visiting Six Flags, a rodeo and other fun stuff. “It's just a party, party weekend. It's really fun,” says Heather.
But in the midst of smiles, and first class treatment, the Keenan kids can't help but miss their dad. “It means a lot to me because he served the country, so it's kind of emotional,” says Joel.
The folks at American Eagle went out of their way to make sure Justin’s service to our country isn't forgotten.
“There's lots of happy days, we've moved on. The kids are growing up, we're a happy family. But it's still not easy to talk about,” says Heather.
And in Justin's honor and families just like his, American Eagle salutes them.
The Keenan family has been Snowball Express vacations before and say the most enjoyable part is spending time with military families who are just like them, grieving a loved one.
If you'd like to make a donation to the non–profit click on the link below under Related Links.