Snowball Express, which provides service and support to children of the nation’s fallen military heroes, has announced that actor/humanitarian Gary Sinise has donated $75,000 through his Gary Sinise Foundation toward Highland Capital Management’s unprecedented $1 million challenge grant for the organization.

Sinise’s generous gift is the largest so far in the challenge. As announced earlier this month, Highland Capital Management will match donations made to Snowball Express up to $1 million through Memorial Day, May 26, 2014. That means every donor gift will have double the impact and Sinise’s donation is now $150,000 for Snowball Express.

Launched in 2011, the Gary Sinise Foundation serves our nation by honoring its defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities. In addition, Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band, a program of GSF, play concerts globally for service members and their families and have played 6 concerts in the past 7 years for the Snowball kids.

“My foundation and I are extremely proud to make this donation to Snowball Express, especially knowing that because of Highland Capital’s generosity, it will double in size,” Sinise said. “I have been involved with Snowball Express from its very early years and I know firsthand how impactful it is in changing the lives of our nation’s Gold Star kids and bringing smiles to their faces. These children need our support and I encourage others to join this generous challenge from Highland Capital.”

“We thank Gary Sinise and his foundation for this generous gift,” said Francis Kern, Executive Director of Snowball Express. “Gary has long been one of our biggest supporters, always making time to be there for the children we serve. His donation today is another in a long line of generous acts aimed toward supporting military families.”

Every year, Snowball Express helps more than 1,200 children who have lost a parent in the military since 9/11. Donations such as those from The Gary Sinise Foundation and Highland Capital Management as well as the ongoing support of the organization’s Presenting Sponsor, American Airlines, will help Snowball Express serve more of the 8,000-plus Gold Star children in the U.S.

James Dondero, Co-Founder and President of Highland, was moved to create the challenge grant after hearing the story of Myles Eckert, the eight-year-old Ohio boy who gave a $20 bill he found to a uniformed member of the Air National Guard. “We like to pay it forward in my family,” Myles wrote in his note.

“We are grateful that Gary has joined Highland’s $1 Million Snowball Express Challenge,” said Dondero. “We are confident that his passionate advocacy for veterans will encourage other individuals and organizations to step forward.”

Snowball Express brings Gold Star children together from all over the world for a four-day life changing experience that provides a fun, nurturing environment that makes each child feel special and gives them an opportunity to share their feelings about losing something so precious, their parent. More than 2,500 children have attended events since Snowball Express was founded in 2006.

Gifts can be provided through www.snowballexpress.org/support/donate/ or by texting “snowball” to 41444. For more information, please visit www.snowballexpress.org.

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