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Families of fallen Arizona soldiers to unite in Texas

Some Arizonans prepare to board the Snowball Express. (KTAR Photo/Jim Cross)

PHOENIX -- Dozens of Arizona children and spouses fallen U.S. military members will spend the next five days in Texas courtesy of the American Airlines Kids in Need program.

The eighth annual Snowball Express will carry the families to Dallas for a few days of fun and friendship, which includes a trip to Six Flags Over Texas, among many other destinations.

Travis Colvill, 15, lost his father in 2004 and is looking forward to sharing experiences with fellow teens who lost a parent in Afghanistan or Iraq.

"Just knowing they've been through the same experiences, it is awesome to regroup every year."

He said he doesn't expect to get a lot of sleep in Texas because there are so many things planned.

The cost of the entire trip including the events, hotels and food is picked up by American Airlines.

Travis' mom, Nicole Mueller, teared up about what this program has meant for her son.

"We've been making the trip for six years and it's the one organization that has helped my son."

Jennifer Mendez of Sierra Vista lost her husband in Iraq in 2006 and said her children made most of their friends through the Snowball Express. Her daughter, Cheyenne, is ready for reuniting with teens who know where she's at.

"It helps me cope with my feelings," Cheyenne said. "Hanging out with people who've been through the same thing."

In total, 56 Arizonans are part of the trip along with almost 2,000 children and spouses of American soldiers from across the nation.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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