His name has become nearly synonymous with our nation’s veterans. In fact, long before his famous role as Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, Gary Sinise, was inspired by his Vietnam veteran family members and sought out ways to give back to our nation’s defenders and their families. Nowhere is his passion for giving back more evident than through his foundation’s Snowball Express – an effort to inspire families of fallen heroes and ensure them they are never alone. This year, the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics at Centerstone and our sister Cohen Veterans Network clinic in Tampa, FL, the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners, were honored to share in Mr. Sinise’s mission and participate in this tremendous event.
“Last year I had the opportunity to attend the Snowball Express as therapist on hand for families in need,” Elizabeth Sherr, the Cohen Clinic at Centerstone in Jacksonville, FL director said. “Mr. Sinise and Disney World pull out all out the stops for our Gold Star families. It is heartwarming to witness the smiles this event inspires and the relationships it builds.”
Normally held at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL, the 2020 Snowball Express had to adjust to current pandemic guidelines and was forced to hold this special program virtually, but its goal was very much the same – support Gold Star families.
“These families have sacrificed beyond words,” Don McCasland, therapist for the Cohen Clinic at Centerstone said. “Being able to offer our support and share our services with them, even in a virtual setting, hopefully expressed our sympathy and passion for helping them heal.”
For two days, team members from all four clinics manned a virtual resource room booth as part of the event’s festivities. Staff were available at all times to answer questions, provide support and direct families in need to services.
“It’s very humbling to speak with the loved ones of our fallen heroes,” Sherr said. “Their strength and resiliency is inspiring. If we were able to provide them any other tools or resources to build on those characteristics during this event, then we’ve not only done our job, but we’ve hopefully made difference for a family that deserves all that we can give.”