"We owe so much to military families. More than we even know," Angelina Jolie said in the video

By Alexia Fernández
December 07, 2020 04:55 PM
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Ahead of the holidays, some of Hollywood’s biggest names are honoring military families who have lost loved ones in combat.

Angelina Jolie, Keanu Reeves, Tom Hanks, Jimmy Kimmel, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are just a few of the stars who sent their well-wishes, thoughts and words of admiration to military families in a sweet video for the Gary Sinise Foundation's 2020 Virtual Snowball Express.

"We owe so much to military families. More than we even know," Jolie said in the video. "So I am deeply grateful and thankful to all you."

The Snowball Express is a year-long initiative to support the children of fallen military heroes and their surviving parents and guardians. It typically culminates in a five-day trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

To protect Gold Star families during the coronavirus pandemic, however, the Gary Sinise Foundation has pivoted the annual event into a virtual celebration.

Hanks reprised his role the Conductor from The Polar Express but first gave a nod to his Forrest Gump costar Sinise and said, "Hey, Tom Hanks here, helping out my old buddy, Lt. Dan. I hope everybody has a really really great time. Disney World will be there again in the future. Have a great time, throw some snowballs around and all aboard the snowball express!"

Pratt told families in the video, "I'm sending this from a very special place, I'm on the set of Jurassic World: Dominion," before turning the camera to his costar Dallas Howard and their crew, "Say hi everyone."

Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie and Keanu Reeves
| Credit: Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty; Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty; ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty

Reeves, who sported a new haircut for The Matrix 4, said, "Just wanted to wish you a wonderful 2020 Snowball Express."

Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks also appeared in the video giving a heartfelt message to Gold Star families.

"We're sorry we can't be with you, sorry we're not all going to Disney World this year," Yearwood said. "[But] just wanted to let you know we're thinking about you."

Brooks added, "Make sure you take care of you during this time."

The video also includes appearances by Robin Roberts, Chef Gordon Ramsey, Mayim Bialik, Mark Wahlberg, Riverdale's KJ Apa, Kaley Cuoco, David Beckham, Chef Robert Irvine, Patricia Heaton, Michael Strahan, Jay Leno, Shania Twain, Simone Biles and more.

The Snowball Express, which took place over the weekend, invited 2,054 families of fallen military members to participate in the virtual celebration.

The initiative began in 2006 after a fallen soldier wrote a letter to his wife, to be opened only if he died. Within the letter, the soldier wrote he wished they could visit Disneyland, and from that wish, the Snowball Express aimed to bring together families to the resort.