At Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Wednesday, the children of fallen service members had a special day set aside for nothing but smiles.
While the rides were great, it turned out just being with other children in the same situation was the most healing part of the day.
Held by charity organization Snowball Express and sponsored by Larkspur-based international company Green Beans Coffee, the event welcomed 23 Gold Star Mothers and 62 children for a day of picnicking, rides and interactions with animals including a dolphin encounter.
Snowball Express was founded after September 11th to honor the families of American military men and women who died in the line of duty.
"One mother said that she has people tell her 'I know how you feel.' Well, they don't know how she feels," said Clay Lingo of Green Beans Coffee.
Gold Star mother Laura Howard said events like these give kids and parents a stronger sense of community.
"It's just nice to know that there's somebody," explained Howard. "There's other people going through the same thing out there. Because usually in your community, you're the only one."
For the mothers, it's about comforting their children, many of whom will never really know the parent who give all to their country.
"He gets to come here and everybody else is like him, you know? He's not strange," said Gold Star mother Angela Cho. "It's not anything he has to explain."
The children at the outing said they were happy to meet new kids they had something in common with.
"It's fun," said Gold Star daughter Aubrey Gahagan. "And I get to meet more kids and get more friends. It's really fun."
"They've been through a lot, but we're getting through," said Gold Star mother Cheandrea Dayce. "So organizations like this definitely help."
Gold Star mother Angela Cho agreed.
"It gives us like good memories and good, positive things to move on in the future," said Cho. "It's not... everything's not sad."
For the children it's a true time of joy. For the mothers, a time to take a tiny step back to think of what might have been as they continue to move forward for their children and themselves.
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