By Dot Sheehan
Let’s start at the very beginning of Operation Hat Trick. It’s a story worth telling and one worth reading.
Little did I know how lives would be changed,mine included,when I listened to the radio that day in 2007. That day a Boston radio station was having a trivia contest and the question of the day was,”What is the one thing wanted most by head wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.” Much to my surprise the answer was a baseball cap to cover wounds,swelling,treatment and bandages.
I don’t know why this had such an effect on me but I started to think about how we could get hats to those with head wounds. I was working in College Athletics at the time at the University of New Hampshire and we lived and died by hockey so in the middle of the night,when I do my best thinking,I thought let’s call this “Operation Hat Trick”
My original thought was to give hats away and then I thought let’s add a retail component and have retailers order three hats but sell only two. The other one would be given to those with head wounds in VA Medical Centers. This was the original OHT model
Many have said,”Aren’t you glad you were listening to the radio that day?” I respond with,”Aren’t you glad I’m the kind of person I am.” Thousands of others were listening to the same broadcast I was
An original logo was created and hats were sold very locally here in the NH University community. Then in Feb of 2008 the unthinkable happened. Nate Hardy, a Navy SEAL and the son of a UNH professor and his wife, and Mike Koch were killed on Iraq. They were the baddest of the bad and were part of DEV group on Team 6, the most elite SEAL team there is.
As if this wasn’t tragedy enough,Nate was the second son the Hardy’s had lost. They lost Josh to brain cancer when he was 17. How much could one family take?
In a fitting tribute Operation Hat Trick was dedicated to Nate and Mike in the spring of 2008.
And so continued Operation Hat Trick locally until 2010 when Notre Dame said OHT should be taken national. Great idea but what did I know about finding a national headwear provider, retailers to carry the product and schools to adopt it? NOTHING!!!!!! But I could figure it out, with help of course!!!! Time for a new business model, one that turned out to be unique and one that addresses a social need and fills some gaps in coverage when government programs and other agencies fall short.
Stay tuned for future blogs. You won’t want to miss the next chapter to this story. You’ll want to know how OHT has grown into a multi million dollar brand,what impact we are having on the recovery of wounded service members and veterans and some heart wrenching stories of recovering service members and veterans overcoming visible and invisible injuries.
In the meantime support Operation Hat Trick by purchasing OHT merchandise and product at www.operationhattrick.org
The Founder’s Blog is a regular feature on the Operation Hat trick website. This blog will give you information and recount stories of our journey to help those in need. To read our most recent blog and find archived blog posts, please visit our “Founder’s Blog” page.