NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — There was a big celebration for families of fallen military heroes at the Nashville International Airport (BNA) Saturday morning as they headed to Florida for a special vacation.
According to BNA, more than 1,900 people whose loved ones paid the ultimate sacrifice were selected for a five-day, all-expenses-paid holiday vacation to Walt Disney World as part of the Snowball Express.
Those family members are reportedly heading to Florida from about 500 different locations, but over 50 families flew out of BNA on Saturday, Dec. 3.
Service members from the Tennessee National Guard helped families bring their luggage in. Then, there was a march down Concourse C with the Tennessee National Guard and the Transportation Security Administration/Department of Public Safety Honor Guard, followed by the National Anthem.
For Christina Romero — who was traveling with her two children on Saturday after she lost her husband, Maj. Benny Romero — it was a relief to be around people who understand her family’s grief.
“To me, it’s a blessing because when my husband died about two years out, I had to fake that Christmas was exciting for me,” Christina explained. “And we got to go in 2018 to our first Snowball Express. I didn’t know what to expect, and it really brought back the Christmas spirit for me, and to share that with my kids.”
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“It means a lot, to be honest,” Christina’s son, Liam Romero, said about the trip. “It’s been so long, and it feels nice to be able to come together with people that know what you’re going through. Don’t have to question anything, It feels natural, to be honest.”
Everything was paid for by the Gary Sinise Foundation and American Airlines, which hosted Saturday’s send-off celebration at BNA, complete with appearances from Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, the Grinch, and Elsa.