In an effort to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for children, Operation Snowstorm is bringing snow to the Greater Houston area.
Operation Snowstorm is a nonprofit that brings 10,000 pounds of snow to the yards of children with terminal cancer. Cy-Fair resident Ed Newby said he was inspired to start the organization in 2014 after hearing of a Houston girl named Raelyn with terminal cancer.
“I was riding around one day, and it was about 100 degrees,” he said. “My daughter was with me and she said, ‘I wish it would snow. It’s so hot.’ I decided that is what we’re going to do.”
Newby said he went out and rented a van that produced snow using pounds of ice. He used the van to turn Raelyn’s front yard into a winter wonderland. He said the snow is consistent enough so families can make snowmen and have snowball fights.
Raelyn and her family loved the snow, Newby said.
“They were playing in the snow that day,” he said. “They weren’t at the doctor’s office; they weren’t getting injections. It was nice to see.”
After that, Newby went on to find ways to recreate the experience for other children. In January 2015, he began reaching out to the Cy-Fair community for donations. He said he asked for $1,500 for another party, but donors came through with much more.
“Somehow, we raised $30,000,” he said. “Cypress stepped up to the plate.”
After the fundraiser, Operation Snowstorm became an official 501(c)3 nonprofit, hosting snow parties for children across Houston.
Barry Heslop was the fourth parent to receive a snowstorm for his son Creighton in 2015. He and his wife chose to join the organization afterward to help others get the same treatment, he said.
“I still can’t put into true words what it meant to our family,” he said. “In a lot of situations, it is the last time family and friends will get together and just have a good time.”
Operation Snowstorm has hosted 24 snowstorms since 2014, Newby said. He said the organization is looking to spread the word of its mission.
“What it is now has completely snowballed, for a lack of better words,” he said. “It’s definitely bigger than me.”