Local Couple Participates in Program Celebrating Children of Fallen Service Members | News, Sports, Jobs

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SUPPLIED PHOTO Jim and Sue Irwin of Howard, left, and Gene and Janice Halterman of East Stroudsburg, right, are pictured among American flags in the Memorial Garden on the grounds of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville during the Gary Sinise Foundation Snowball Express Graduation Celebration — held for the children and families of fallen veterans.


HOWARD — Jim and Sue Irwin, of Howard, and Gene and Janice Halterman, of East Stroudsburg, were recently honored to be the WoodmenLife Northeast Region representatives at the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Snowball Express Graduation Celebration held at was held recently at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.

The Irwins and Haltermans donated their time to volunteer at this meaningful event. WoodmenLife’s northeast region includes Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and all of New England.

The graduation celebration honored children who have turned 18 and are aging outside of the program. This celebration honored approximately 300 young men and women with a weekend full of fun activities culminating in a concert by Sinise’s “Lieutenant. Dan Band” (from the name of his character in the film “Forrest Gump”). A flag, commemorating each of the fallen heroes whose family was present, was placed in the garden of remembrance on the lawn of this huge hotel. WoodmenLife is one of the Foundation’s corporate sponsors and is the primary contributor of American flags for these events.

The Gary Sinise Foundation and the Snowball Express are non-profit organizations dedicated to serving the families of our fallen military heroes, or Gold Star families.

By partnering with many companies, the foundation is able to organize these events for families, including a five-day vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida each December. All events are free for families. The most recent Snowball Express in Orlando has welcomed more than 1,700 families. American Airlines, as the foundation’s official airline, is donating planes and pilots to fly these families to and from event locations across the country.

Snowball Express helps the families of our fallen heroes heal, learn and build lasting relationships.

“That’s our primary goal” Sinise explains. “To make our Gold Star families feel reminded and see that they are not alone. This is something that I find extremely important for our nation, letting children know that we remember their sacrifices and that we honor them. And it’s such a feeling to see them heal and smile and have fun.

Jim Irwin is a 12-year Air Force veteran and Sue worked with the Air Force ROTC at Penn State for 33 years.

After her volunteer experience, Sue said: “I will never forget that weekend. It was an eye-opening and extremely humbling experience. It reminds us of the sacrifices not only our service members make for our freedom, but also the sacrifices their families make.

WoodmenLife (formerly Woodmen of the World) is a not-for-profit life insurance company founded in 1890 committed to serving its members, their communities and our country. WoodmenLife is proud to reinvest what would be company profits back into local communities for the benefit of those in need. They serve their members with honesty and integrity and have always been guided by good.

With nearly 1,300 fraternal chapters nationwide, WoodmenLife focuses primarily on patriotism and community involvement. Howard Chapter #691 is extremely involved in the communities of Howard and Beech Creek. For more information about WoodmenLife, visit the chapter website at www.woodmenlife.org/chapter/PA691, or leave a message for a representative at the Beech Creek office at 570-962-2848 or contact the chapter secretary at 570-660-3858.



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