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Snowball Express takes off toward Disney World

Snowball Express takes off toward Disney World
Snowball Express takes off towards Disney World
Posted at 9:29 AM, Dec 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-08 15:35:45-05

KANSAS CITY,Mo. — Almost 50 Kansas City area residents are on their way to Disney World for the holidays for free, thanks for the Gary Sinise Foundation.

All of the families have lost a loved one in the armed forces in the past few years.

One family joining for the first time is the Stifters.

In 2016, Overland Park resident Melissa Stifter's husband, Joe, was killed in Iraq. She lost her best friend and was left with a nearly 2-year-old daughter, Olivia.

"He was about to turn 30 when he passed away," Stifter said. "He was in the field artillery. He was a very outgoing, fun guy."

The holidays are rough for her and many of the families going on the trip, as they too grieve the lost of their loved ones.

Many of the families, like the Williams', attend the trip every year and help other families. This will be the sixth year for the Williams family. Sgt. 1st Class Justin Williams died in 2014, leaving behind his wife, Marti, and their three children.

Marti Williams met Stifter five years ago at a widows lunch and have been friends since. The two lean on each other through times of grief.

"I've been there, I've done that," Williams said. "I know how you are feeling and I am here."

Along with their children, the two are taking on Florida together and full of smiles.

They will join the more than 1,700 families from around the world.

The foundation hopes this holiday season brings a smile to their faces at a place where dreams come true.

"It made it easier knowing this was coming," Stifter said.

The all-expenses paid annual retreat offers five days of therapeutic and inspiring programs at Disney World in Orlando to support families of fallen military heroes.

American Airlines donates private flights all over the nation to pick up families.

For more on the foundation: click here.