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Families of fallen Arizona soldiers to unite in Texas

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.