Mackenzie Kuhns, 8, of Youngstown, and 11-year-old Ian Murray, of Ravenna, had never met before. The two share a bond. Both of their fathers were killed in Iraq in 2005.
American Airlines hopes to bring new memories for the children of fallen military heroes. That's why, Mackenzie, her mom and Ian and his grandfather took the trip to Dallas, Texas.
"It gives my daughter something to look forward to that she gets to do all by herself. That makes her feel special. It's fun," Makenzie's mom, Courtney Kuhns said.
Mackenzie was not quite 2 years old when her dad died. Sgt. Larry Kuhns was killed in a roadside attack, in Iraq. This is the fifth time she and her mom are taking the Snowball Express trip. "It's about me having fun," Mackenzie added.
Ian's father, Sgt. Jeremy Murray was on his third tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed by an IED. Harold Murray said his grandson was just five at the time. This is Ian's second Snowball Express trip. "He'll have an opportunity to share with some other kids who have lost their parents and that type of thing. And, I will get to share with some parents about losing my son. That's what this is all for," Murray said.
The holidays can be difficult for families of fallen soldiers. American Airlines hopes the Snowball Express provides a few days of fun and enjoyment. "I like it. It's fun and cool to go, and right now, I get to hang out with my grandpa," Ian said.
"It is important that these children understand that their mothers and fathers have not been forgotten -- that somebody still cares," Murray added.
The Kuhns and the Murrays are among 1,700 relatives of fallen servicemen and women treated to the Snowball Express getaway.