Frequently Asked Questions
Please click on the questions below to view the answers.
Q1. Who is eligible to attend Snowball Express 2012 in Dallas, Texas?
Children of military fallen heroes who have died while on active duty (not medically retired) on or after September 11, 2001 who are between the ages of 5 years of age and 18 years of age. The children MUST BE listed on the DD1300, Report of Casualty in order to attend, no exceptions. The names will be confirmed upon receipt of the DD1300. Biological, step-children and adopted children are all eligible to attend IF their names are on the DD1300.
The death of the fallen hero can be either combat or non-combat related.
Ages – Children must be 5 years of age by December 4, 2012. Children cannot have turned 19 years of age before November 30, 2012 to be eligible to attend.
One accompanying parent/legal guardian or designated adult.
Q2. My spouse was killed, but we do not have children listed on the DD1300. Am I eligible to attend?
The Snowball Express Foundation’s mission is focused on providing hope and new memories for the children of military fallen heroes. Unfortunately we do not have the resources to allow other than those families with children of fallen military heroes.
Other organizations such as the Gold Star Wives www.goldstarwives.org and the American Widow Project www.americanwidowproject.org are two organizations that provide relief and counsel for surviving spouses without children. Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors www.taps.org is another fine organization that helps those who have lost a fallen hero. They help all siblings, relatives and friends of fallen heroes. Snowball Express endorses all of these efforts and encourages all surviving family members to use their services. Ladies Auxiliary VFW
Q3. My new spouse and step children are willing to pay for their own stay and different events, can they still come?
Again, the answer is regretfully no. We do not break out the costs for each event, airline fare (most of which is donated), meals, ground transportation or theme park tickets. This would be a logistical nightmare and we simply can’t provide an al a carte option to families. If the issue continues to be a problem and becomes divisive for your family, Snowball Express may not be the best match for your child or family. It is totally up to you.
Note: Snowball Express cannot limit the travel of any persons not invited to the event. If a family chooses to bring an uninvited guest that is the spouse’s choice. However, any resources designed just for the families; ground/air transportation, dinners, entertainment designed just for the families, venues that are open to just our families, will be open to only those invited to Snowball Express and on the approved guest lists. Past attendance by additional family members does not guarantee attendance at the 2012 event.
Q4. My children’s school requires a letter stating the reasons for missing school. Does Snowball Express provide such a note?
Yes. It is in the Download section and may be downloaded by you now.
Q5. How are families transported to the event?
Families who can drive are encouraged to do so to enable the Foundation to afford to bring more families. The Foundation will arrange transportation, the majority of which will be via airlines, for those families who cannot drive.
American Airlines provides the bulk of the travel accommodations via charters and scheduled flights. You will be notified a minimum of one month in advance of your travel arrangements. We also ask that if you are within a 3 hour drive of a major airport that you consider driving to that airport to allow a more efficient movement of persons from larger airports versus the more costly smaller airports.
Q6. I have children younger than 5 years of age and some that are older. Can I bring my younger children with me to the event?
No. Snowball Express must use 5 years of age as the cutoff and adhere to it for all families. Allowing exceptions become problematic. Some parents in the past have remained at home with their younger child choosing not to attend but allowing the older child to attend with a grandparent, sister or brother. This is permissible. That can certainly be reversed also with the parent accompanying the child and another relative babysitting the younger child.
Families who have attended in the past with younger children will not have an exception to this age restriction. The minimum age of 5 applies to all as does the maximum age of 18 applies to all.
Snowball Express may not be a perfect fit for every family. If your family does not wish to attend the 2012 because of this age requirement that is understandable. If you wish to wait until all children are eligible to attend, we will look forward to having you attend future Snowball Express events. Snowball Express felt the best use of donor’s generous gifts and very limited resources was to install the younger age limit after watching the stress that the parents and young children have at an event that is both physically and emotionally exhausting. The younger children often were not capable of taking full advantage of all the resources provided.
Please see the section on “Snowflake events”. All children, regardless of ages are invited to these local events. Removing your name from the database will result in you not being contacted for these events.
Q7. Are all families, both new and returning, invited to this year’s event?
New families attending for the first time, the answer is absolutely yes. However, this early in the planning process we simply can’t guarantee that every returning family will be able to return. The reality is that DOD statistics tell us there are nearly 12,000 children 18 years and younger have lost a parent while serving in the military since 9/11. Snowball Express will evaluate throughout the year and notify all of our families as soon as possible if returning families are allowed to return.
Q8. What’s included in terms of transportation and housing?
All air or ground transportation to bring families to Dallas/Ft Worth and while at the event are included in the arrangements. Transportation to and from the airports, DFW International or Love Field is also provided at no charge.
Hotel accommodations are donated by participating hotels. Food is provided at some of the events, however, you will be responsible for all miscellaneous expenses, such as food and beverages on your own, gifts you buy in hotels, etc.
Q9. I have a child with special needs, will I be allowed to have a “helper”?
In those cases where a child’s physical condition is such, Snowball Express will allow a helper to attend. In some cases Snowball Express will pay for the additional person to attend. These are handled on a case by case basis.
Any requests for additional attendees must be made with the assigned Family Coordinator. Please include any pertinent information to your request (special needs of the children, the number of children in the family, etc.)
Q10. I’d like to have other family members attend with us. Is that possible?
We respectfully ask that you not bring additional extended family members. The event is designed for the children of fallen heroes. Our wish is for the children to meet other children who are like themselves and begin to make friendships that will last a lifetime.
Additional family members such as grandparents, a new step-parent from a new marriage or others dilute the experience for the child by being at the event. Snowball Express is a time for healing for the children and is not meant to be a family vacation for other family members to join in the experience. Those family experiences are important but need to occur outside the scope of what occurs at Snowball Express. We hope families attending will accept what we are attempting to do in the spirit it is given and with the understanding of our policies and procedures.
As we said, Snowball Express may not be the perfect fit for every family and if our policies and procedures are perceived to be harmful to your family, we fully respect your decision to not attend.
Q11. What’s the cut-off date for registering for the 2012 event?
To satisfy the requirements for registering in time to attend you must have begun your initial registration and have submitted the DD1300 and received acknowledgement from Snowball Express by October 20, 2012.
Q12. I have relatives who live locally. Can they attend the events and stay in the hotel with my family?
Most of the events are closed events, which means only invited guests are allowed to attend. If a public venue is chosen for an event that is open to the general public on that day, Snowball Express cannot restrict those who wish to attend. Our wish is to have the event as pure for the children of being with other children as possible however.
Q13. Why were these dates chosen?
Hotel and airline seat availability. We must have free rooms to operate the way we do. We operate at the generosity of the hotels and airlines that provide us the bulk of our resources for free.
Q14. If a limited number of returning families are allowed to attend, how would Snowball Express determine which returning families would attend the 2012?
The various limitation considerations could be geographic by state or region of the country, the number of times a family has attended past Snowball Express annual events . Our hope is that all eligible children who are registered (age 5-18) will be able to attend but we simply can’t guarantee that at this point in time.
The extremely high cost of overseas airline tickets makes bringing returning families from overseas unlikely year after year. We cannot guarantee this will occur in 2011 or in future years. However, any “new registrations” from overseas will be brought to the 2011 event. We will notify any returning overseas families at the earliest possible point in time once sufficient funds or resources are procured to have the returning families come again.
Q15. Why do I have to register if I’ve already signed up on the previous Snowball Express web site?
We have developed a new software system designed specifically for Snowball Express. With it we have much more capability to handle the specific needs of many of our SBE functions. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by asking you to reregister with the new site, but it will be most beneficial to all of us.
Q16. Can we arrive earlier or depart later than the announced days?
Because of the sheer numbers of persons traveling from all over the country and because our near total reliance upon volunteers to do what we do, flight arrangements are for the days of travel that Snowball Express specifies. If you wish to purchase your own travel for dates other than those provided for travel by Snowball Express and still attend the event, please notify us at the time to make such arrangements. If you wish to use Snowball Express travel arrangements only one way, please let us know that also so we can money by purchasing just a one way travel fare discounted ticket.
Overseas families will arrive one day prior to the other families arriving due to the long distances involved. This includes those from Hawaii and Alaska.
Q17. My place of work requires a letter explaining my request for being absent from work. Does Snowball Express have a letter that explains my reasons for requesting this time off?
Yes. The letter is posted in the Download section and can be downloaded by you now.
Q18. What if my child gets sick while we’re there?
Doctors and transportation are available 24-hours a day to ensure our families can get to appropriate medical facilities that provide TriCare health services.
Q19. I’ve never registered for Snowball Express before. How do I do it, and why do you need all of the things you’re asking for?
From the Snowball Express home page, click “Families” then “Family Registration”. You’ll be asked if you’re the Parent or Guardian of the Fallen Hero’s children. If you answer “Yes” you’ll be asked for your name, phone number and email address. Upon completion of this step, you’ll be emailed with a letter that has the link to your own personal registration page. SAVE THIS EMAIL! It’s the only source of the link to your page if you have to come back and make any changes.
- Why we ask all those questions:
Fallen Hero Specialty: some organizations have offered to support the families of service members from particular military specialties—Special Forces, for example. If we can tell them we have X number of families from that specialty, they base their donations on that.
Where deceased: Only for historical purposes. Has no effect on how we look at your children. The children of any military member who’s died since 9/11/01, while in combat or not, are eligible to participate in Snowball Express activities.
Date deceased: our mission is to support the children of those fallen heroes who’ve died on active duty since 9/11
Fallen Hero’s name should match the DD1300. The DD1300 must be uploaded so we have a copy of it. Previous attendees sent or faxed copies of them to us, but this is obviously a cumbersome situation. We need the 1300 to ascertain the eligibility of the children who intend to come to the event. Only those children whose names are on the 1300 are eligible. The 1300 can be scanned at an office supply store (Staples, Office Depot), a copy place (Kinko’s), or most drug stores with photo facilities. It may be in JPG, BMP, PDF, PNG, or GIF formats. If all else fails, it can also be faxed to (972)870-5657.
Adult Family Member (AFM)
An AFM can be the parent or the guardian. The first AFM entered must be the legal guardian of the children. Additional AFMs may be entered if they will be accompanying the children to our event. (In only VERY rare cases will more than one AFM be allowed to come to the event) You may choose to have a grandparent bring the kids; in this case, the parent would be the first AFM, and the grandparent would be the second. In all cases the guardian escorting the child/children to the event must be at least 23 years of age.
Name: due to new TSA rules, your name here must be the same as what you see on a government-issued form of ID. So, if you use your driver’s license at the airport, make sure the name on it matches what you enter here.
Medical insurance: in case we need to seek medical care for you or a child. We assume Tricare, but we need to know which regional office you use as well.
Address: in the past we’ve sent packages home for the families. FedEx and UPS require street addresses for delivery. If you have PO Box, please provide your street address (or one that the delivery companies can use) for our purposes. 99% of our communication to you will be via email and/or phone; about the only physical deliveries you can expect from Snowball Express will require this address.
For those who live overseas, please provide the delivery address there as well, rather than an APO address.
Nearest airport: we’ll try to fly you out of the closest place, but depending on how close you are to a large metropolitan airport, we may ask you to drive a little further down the road. Enter the first three letters of the city or airport name (JFK, Alb). Either a list of names or the airport itself will pop up. Click on the correct airport, and it’ll be entered for you. We use this info for our travel planning.
Emergency contact: we need this in case something happens at the event. This person should have access to medical information for you and the kids; you might consider providing them a limited power of attorney.
Picture: we’re planning to use the pictures for ID badges. We need a passport-type picture of you, head and shoulders, about 3 x 4 in size. Please don’t use family pictures or those shot from a distance…we can’t get the resolution we need if we have to blow them up. As with the 1300, the format can be JPG, BMP, PDF, PNG, or GIF.
Date of birth: in 2012 attendance is limited to those children aged 5 and above, and 18 and below (as of the beginning of the event). We do this so that it is a much more positive experience. However, younger and older kids are more than welcome to participate in local Snowflake events, and we hope the older kids will also act as mentors for the younger children at those times.
If the child has an email address or cell phone, you may enter it here. It will not be used by any Snowball volunteer to contact the child without your knowledge. However, at some point we may create a system that allows the kids to contact each other. If we implement this system, further details will be given to you, and you’ll have the opportunity to opt out at that time.
Please list all previous events the child has attended
IMPORTANT: be sure to confirm the child is coming to this year’s event. You may have other children who fall outside the age limitations; if so, please show them as NOT attending for this year.
Photos: as above, we want to use the child’s photo for ID purposes. It will NOT be used for any other purpose without your express written consent. School portraits are fine; they should reflect the child’s appearance and age as close as possible (they grow so fast these days!). The format can be JPG, BMP, PDF, PNG, or GIF.
Remember to hit “Submit”, “Amend” or “Upload” as necessary for each area as applicable.
Q20. What are the really important things to know about the registration process?
Make sure your name and birth date is the same as on your government-issued ID.
- Mailing address: street address, not a PO Box.
- DD1300: we must have a copy, either uploaded (preferred) or faxed.
- Specify medical insurance provider
- Children’s names should be correct
- Ensure each child who wants to come is marked as attending
Q21. Are any provisions made to have “helpers” in place of family members at the event to provide assistance for me and my children?
Yes. A survey will be completed prior to the event in which you will be asked if you would like a “helper” to be assigned. Snowball Express approves of each helper and will only assign a helper if they have gone through a valid background check. They are usually affiliated with service groups such as civic service organizations, military service organizations or employees of major donors/sponsors who have asked to help. The helpers can remain with you during all of the venues or selected venues as you see fit.
Q22. How will I be notified of my travel itinerary?
By email and by phone.
In the case of American Airlines, you will be contacted by a charter coordinator who will notify you of the departure city and time of your departure. These are American Airline flight attendants.
You may be contacted by other airline reservation agents acting on behalf of Snowball Express to make your flight schedules and notify you and Snowball Express of them.
Q23. We want to attend but can’t commit to coming yet. When do we need to let Snowball Express know by of our “definite intent” to attend?
October 20, 2012. The earlier we can get a firm commitment, the easier it is for us to do all our planning. We realize emergencies will occur but the intent is indicated to Snowball Express that you wish to attend.
Q24. What if I have trouble uploading the DD1300 and/or the photos?
Once your information has been entered, you’ll be assigned a Family Coordinator. (It may take a few days.) This person will be your primary contact with Snowball Express. You can call him or her to ask all of the questions you’ll have as we get closer to the event. They should be able to help you with the uploading process. If they can’t, they’ll refer you to someone who can.
Q25. Does Snowball Express share my personal information from the DD1300 without my permission?
Q26. If I have attended previous events, do I need to register again?
No, you do NOT need to re-register. However, you will need to sign up for SBE VIII and let us know that you want to attend this years event. To sign up for SBE VIII, sign in to your existing account record with you password and click on the Attending Snowball Express VIII button.