Gary Sinise closed out a weekend of events celebrating Snowball Express graduates in Nashville with his Lt. Dan Band. The Gary Sinise Foundation sponsored the activities, which benefited children and spouses of fallen military personnel and first responders. “The music is really just part of the overall mission of supporting our veterans and military families and first responders,” Sinise told Fox News Digital. “And so when I play, that’s what I play for.”
After completing the course, many Snowball students told Sinise that they wished to reconnect with their classmates. Snowball helps families grieve their fallen heroes and make new memories as they continue on with their lives. The students in the program range in age from 6 to 18.
The origins of the Lt. Dan Band
Of course, Gary Sinise named his band after his famous Forrest Gump role of Lt. Dan Taylor. The gruff actor earned an Academy Award nomination for the iconic role. Sinise formed the foundation over a decade ago. He wanted to stay involved with the lives of veterans on multiple fronts. The foundation builds homes adapted to wounded service members and is involved in community outreach and education.
During the celebration, families were given the opportunity to participate in a variety of enjoyable activities. On Sunday, the Lt. Dan band performed a special show at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, which capped off the weekend. The display featured 250 American flags, each one dedicated to a fallen family member.
In 2006, the Snowball Express began and treated families on Disney World vacations. Many had not been able to participate in the experience for the past two years due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Since becoming an official Snowball initiative in 2017, the Gary Sinise Foundation has assisted more than 1,700 children.
Gary Sinise has been a long-time supporter of American service members. “[Sometimes] just taking the time to pat somebody on the back and to reach out and touch them,” he said. “[Or] to go where they were struggling and try to show support to them.”
It doesn’t take a massive donation to help, Gary Sinise urges
Being an advocate for veterans is important, but it needn’t be daunting. “I always recommend, on the veteran front anyway, there are military families in every community, every neighborhood, every state in the country. And if you just reach out and touch folks, you know, it doesn’t take a massive donation to an organization to make a difference in somebody’s life, Gary Sinise explained.”If they feel like you care enough to stop by or to reach out or to ask them how they’re doing and ask them what they need, and maybe try to provide some services and support to them. That will make a huge difference.”
The organization’s headquarters were previously located in California, and this spring, Sinise began relocating them to Nashville. It’s been a long process, the actor explained. “We had 19,500 square feet in California, and I have a large collection of artifacts and things that have been given to me over many years of doing this,” Gary Sinise said. “We have had to take care of all of that, and make sure we are moving it properly and securing it all.”