FARGO, N.D. — Children of fallen North Dakota service members, along with their guardians, will have the opportunity to travel to Texas later this week for an event aimed at providing new and cheerful memories for them. The nonprofit Snowball Express brings together children of military members who have died on active duty since 9/11 during a four-day event in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“This trip is about creating happy memories during the holidays for the kids who have lost a parent to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Sara Blazek, Survivor Outreach Services coordinator for the North Dakota National Guard in Bismarck. “They will reconnect with friends and make new friendships during the weekend filled with events.”
This year’s participants include Hailee McCormick, daughter of Cpl. Curtis Mehrer, who died in June 2006 while serving in Afghanistan with the North Dakota Army National Guard; Messa Kuehl, daughter of Staff Sgt. David Kuehl, who died in May 2007 in Iraq while serving with the Army’s 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division; Sophie Rishling, daughter of Sgt. Terry Rishling, who died in February 2010 while serving in Kosovo with the North Dakota Army National Guard; and Eric Linde, son of Sgt. 1st Class Darren Linde, who died in December 2012 while serving in Afghanistan.
Blazek would like to see community support for the children as they leave on their Snowball Express adventure. Supporters are invited to see them off on their flight between 6:30-6:45 a.m. Thursday at Fargo’s Hector International Airport. They’re also invited to welcome them home at 2:50 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16 at Hector.
While in Texas, the children will attend sporting events, dances, amusement parks and more. Since the program began in 2006, four children from North Dakota have had the opportunity to take part each year.