Spending the afternoon poolside with dolphins is always kind of special, even more so considering what brought everyone together. "It's being with my family and hanging out with other kids knowing that they've lost a fallen soldier too," Cassidy Elledge said.
Cassidy, her mom, and grandmother were brought to Six Flags by a charity that creates fun for the children of military families that have lost a loved one in service to their country since 9/11. Cassidy lost her dad six years ago, but she holds one image particularly close. "I have a memory that we went to Hawaii and he's holding me up in the waves," she said.
There were more than 20 local families there Wednesday and every child there has a similar story about that dark place in their lives left when they lost someone they loved. But on Wednesday, tears were replaced by laughs and pain took a backseat to smiles and the opportunity to meet new friends.
For the wives and children of fallen military heroes, it's about more than burgers and fries. It's about remembering the sacrifice. It's about family. "It's been 10 years for me," Tina Cline told ABC7 News. Her high school sweetheart, Donald John Cline Jr., was a Marine. She lost him in March of 2003. "Going through this is a very lonely road and when we come together, we come together," she said.
Each of these gatherings is called a "Snowflake Event" and they are organized by the Green Beans Coffee Company of Larkspur and Snowball Express. Clay Lingo with Green beans Coffee Company says participation is about more than good PT. He says it's about showing how much they appreciate the sacrifice made by military families and a reminder that they are not alone.
"Huge for the heart, huge for the heart... I get way more out of this than these kids do," Lingo said.