You Won’t Believe What Actor Gary Sinise Bought For A Vet Who Lost His Legs
Actors don’t just play heroes in movies and on TV. Sometimes they’re heroes in real life. You wouldn’t expect a celebrity to take time out of their busy day to stop and give someone a hand. But celebrities aren’t always super selfish divas who demand to drink only cucumber water and won’t settle for anything less. They can be kind, generous, and humble people, too.
It would be absolutely wild to be surprised by your favorite actor in such an epic way! It would feel so much better than getting the best birthday combined with the best Christmas present in the world. Your head would probably immediately explode, and you’d know that you hit the best moment in your life. Nothing could beat that moment, no matter how amazing it was. Actor Gary Sinise did just that to one person. We can’t believe he went out of his way to make someone feel better!
More Than A Role
Most people know Gary Sinise for his iconic role as Vietnam Veteran Lt. Dan in Forest Gump, or his stint on the long-running CSI:NY.
But before the actor ever took on his iconic role, he had been supporting U.S. military veterans. He’s been helping them out since the 1970s.
After September 11th, Sinise decided to step up his support of the military and the actor founded the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 to further provide support for the military and their families.
In The Army
Sergeant 1st Class Caleb Brewer of Tuscon, Arizona was one of the veterans who received support from Gary Sinise and the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Brewer joined the U.S. Army reserves in 2005, and in 2012, he joined the Green Berets.
Brewer eventually retired from the military in 2016, but during his service, he was severely injured in combat. He really sacrificed a lot for his country. Unfortunately, there are some sacrifices that are very hard to make.
Life Changing Moment
Brewer was deployed to Afghanistan in 2015, where he ended up sustaining a life changing injury.
Brewed stepped on an IED, and both of his legs were severed. As a result, he had blood clots, infections, and a traumatic brain injury.
Miraculously, Brewer survived the incident, and he went back to Tucson, Arizona in 2016. He is now 31, and has to go through the challenge of living his life with his new condition. We can’t even imagine!
One Step At A Time
Because of the incident, Brewer had to learn how to walk all over again using prosthetic legs.
After only four short months, Brewer began to show that he was making excellent progress with his rehabilitation regime.
He also had to create a special workout room so that he could continue with his physical therapy, as well as maintain his fitness. Brewer doesn’t just train himself. He also helps other disabled men and women work on their bodies, and their confidence.
Friends In High Places
Enter Gary Sinise. Sinise was aware of the veteran’s condition, and new that Brewer would have to cope with new challenges in life.
The actor wanted to make sure that housing wasn’t one of the new challenges that Brewer would have to face.
Gary Sinise reached out to Brewer and gave him a helping hand in a very special way. Brewer was about to receive the support of the Gary Sinise Foundation, and find a place to live.
RISE And Shine
Sinise let Brewer know about one of his foundation’s programs called RISE, or the Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment program.
The purpose of the program is to build specially adapted smart homes and adapted vehicles for wounded veterans to use.
The houses are one of a kind, and specially constructed for the disabled veteran’s needs. The homes are also 100% mortgage free. Many veterans lack the ability to update their homes, and so the RISE program helps them do this.
Home Sweet Home
Brewer was approved for a new smart home, and the construction of the home was completed on February 6, 2019.
Brewer’s new home came with a ton of smartphone-controlled functions. He’s now able to check to see who’s at the door, and adjust the volume on his stereo, and open the blinds from his phone.
The home also has wheelchair friendly tilted mirrors, and pocket doors. Brewer’s needs are now being met thanks in part to the new smart home.
An Easier Life
It seems like nearly every aspect of the house was designed to make Brewer’s life easier and better.
The house is also equipped with kitchen cabinets that can pull down so that he can reach them if he’s in a wheelchair.
The microwave is in a drawer, and the oven is at chest-level so he can reach both of those things as well. Plus, the shower has a heated bench, so he can sit down on it and not be cold when he’s bathing.
Brewer lives in the smart home with his wife, Ashley, and their two daughters, Emily and Evelyn.
Brewer is completely floored by his new home, and by the generosity of the Gary Sinise Foundation, and the actor.
“It’s incredibly overwhelming in a good way,” said Brewer. “It doesn’t feel real. I never would’ve expected it in a million years.” The Gary Sinise Foundation says, “A specially adapted smart home will greatly increase his ability to perform necessary daily functions.”
Doing Good Work
But Brewer’s smart home isn’t the only kind thing Gary Sinise and the Gary Sinise Foundation have done.
The Gary Sinise Foundation has a whole slew of other projects and programs that help out veterans and their families.
Sinise also performs on USO tours at military bases around the world, both personally and with the Lt. Dan Band. Yes, the band is named after his character in Forrest Gump. And we love him for doing that!
For The Children
Gary Sinise wants to make sure that the children of fallen heroes are never forgotten.
“I’ll do anything for these kids, anything for the Gold Star families, so that they know we’ll never forget them,” the actor once said.
So Gary Sinise and the Gary Sinise Foundation launched the most epic surprise for 1,000 kids of fallen soldiers. He wanted to give them a happy experience, so he took them all to the happiest place on earth…
All Aboard The Snowball Express
The Gary Sinise Foundation flew 1,000 children of fallen soldiers to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The children were able to enjoy an all expenses paid trip around the Holiday season at the happiest place on Earth.
The children flew to Disney World with their surviving parent or guardian on a plane that was soon known as the Snowball Express. Travelers sang the National Anthem to the children in the airport. The Holiday magic was about to begin…
A Humbling Experience
The moment was so touching, that people couldn’t help but notice the children and the singing.
“Most every person standing around, myself included was bawling at the sight of these kids and spouses who have paid so great a price for our country,” wrote Jen Triangle on Facebook of the moment.
“To see all of this at Christmas time was so humbling. Seeing the general public in an airport stand still to honor these kids was simply beautiful.”
Some Gold Star families saw Tringale’s post about the moment and commented on it as well.
“My children and I are a part of this group, though we flew out of Atlanta airport!” wrote one person.
“So thankful for American Airlines, Snowball Express Organization, and Gary Sinise foundation for putting this on for us. My late husband gave his life for this country in 2015, and since then we’ve just been surrounded by love and support from so many different organizations!”
Taking To Twitter
Gary Sinise also posted about the Snowball Express on Twitter. He tweeted out a photo of the Gold Star families and a message.
“Over 1000 Gold Star Children travel w/ surviving parent, 1,750 in all, via @americanair to Disney World today as part of our @GarySiniseFound Snowball Express program,” wrote Sinise.
“This charter left LAX this morning. I’ll join up in a few days. Have fun kids! We love you!” This must have meant a lot to those kids.
The trip to Disney World helped these families deal with the loss of their loved one.
“They’re dealing with the grief and the loss of a loved one, a mom or a dad who have died in military service, and all these kids are going through the same thing,” said Sinise.
“So the power of all of them in the same place at the same time, many of them—hundreds of them—was very healing for a lot of them…”
Sinise said that the moment was very powerful for everyone involved in the Snowball Express.
“You cannot underestimate the power of bringing all these kids together in a happy environment because we’re trying to bring joy to them right before the holidays, right before the Christmas holidays, which is a difficult time for a child who’s lost a parent,” said Sinise.
“So bringing all these kids together at the happiest place on earth in Disney World was very, very special.”
When the Gold Star families got to Disney World, they were treated to a once in a lifetime experience.
The kids were given a five day, all expense paid trip, where they were able to go on rides, and participate in fun activities, and get a full dose of Disney Magic.
The kids were also treated to a performance from Gary Sinise ant the Lt. Dan Band. They must have ended up having the best time ever!
Keeping A Promise
The Snowball Express was started in 2006, when a letter from a fallen solider to his wife was published.
In the letter, he asked his wife to fulfill a promise he made to bring their kids to Disney World.
The Snowball Express became part of the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2017. “We are committed to maintaining the wonderful traditions while finding new and exciting ways to serve our families of the fallen,” says the foundation on their website.
All Year Round
In addition to taking these kids to Disney, the Snowball Express also has events all year round.
They have baseball games, baseball games, camping trips, and they also have arts and educational opportunities for grieving military families.
The whole point is to “build bonds with the only people who can truly understand their loss: each other.” We’re so impressed that the Gary Sinise Foundation would go the extra mile to make these kids happier, and to help them out!