Operation Hat Trick (OHT) Overview
The short story:
Supported by over 300 leading universities, two living Presidents, NHL, NBA, MLB and major corporations, Operation Hat Trick (OHT) is a 501c3 helping America’s injured service members recover from the visible and invisible wounds of war. Since 2014, OHT has given almost $800,000 to programs that meet its mission, and is on track to reach an aggregate $1,000,000 by early 2019. Over 1.5 million consumers have made a “purchase with a purpose” by buying OHT hats and merchandise. The organization fills a critical giving gap, getting desperately needed financial support to veterans at the grassroots level, when and where it’s needed most.
Social Media Accounts
- Facebook — www.facebook.com/OperationHatTrick
- Twitter — @SupportOHT
- Instagram — SUPPORTOHT
- YouTube links — https://www.youtube.com/c/OperationhattrickOrg
- Website — www.operationhattrick.org
- OHT online store: https:/www.47brand.com/collections/oht
The full story:
From humble beginnings…
• Dot Sheehan, is the pink & purple haired spark behind Operation Hat Trick. In 2007, she was listening to a Boston radio station airing a trivia contest. The question was: “What’s the one thing most wanted by head-wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?” The answer was baseball caps to cover wounds, burns, swelling and bandages. So simple. The seeds were planted.
• OHT sprang to life in 2008, when tragedy hit Dot’s University of New Hampshire community where she was Senior Associate Athletic Director, External Relations. Nate Hardy and Mike Koch, two Navy SEAL friends who trained and fought together, had died in a nighttime raid in Iraq against an Al-Qaeda suicide bomb cell. They are buried side by side at Arlington National Cemetery. Nate was the son of UNH professor Steve Hardy and his wife Donna; word of the tragedy had spread through the university community. Dot’s dream now had a connection point, focus and purpose. 2018 marks the 10-year anniversary of Nate and Mike’s passing, memorialized on all OHT merchandise hangtags.
• Dot began by giving away OHT-branded hats to service members with head and brain injuries, visiting Walter Reed Hospital and VA Medical Centers to make a difference.
• OHT first started getting traction within the collegiate space, gaining recognition – and growing support – with colleges and universities. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) was the first to get involved and the University of Notre Dame urged OHT to go national. To achieve this, Dot needed to create manufacturing, sales and distribution for the non-profit brand. After three providers turned OHT down, Boston-based ‘47 had the vision to take a chance. Operation Hat Trick became a social innovation organization.
• Hats were all OHT had to offer for merchandise in the early days. In its first full year of operation, OHT sold a few hundred hats and raised $1,500 in donations. “I was very proud of this at the time,” said Dot Sheehan. 100% of those proceeds were donated to the National Military Medical Center at Walter Reed for their critically wounded amputees and traumatic brain Injury patients.
…to a national movement
• “They promised to defend; we promise to support” is the rallying cry of Operation Hat Trick. OHT has lived up to this mantra.
• The organization has gained support from – and partnered with – hundreds of sports teams, including 330+ universities and colleges in all 50 states, 165 high schools, 21 National Hockey League teams, 15 NBA teams and 70 Minor League baseball teams. OHT has been visible at 16 NASCAR races to date.
• OHT is an apolitical philanthropy, focused on supporting injured service members and veterans, “a cause that should transcend politics,” Dot says. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton support Operation Hat Trick.
• Over 100 companies have partnered with OHT, including Sig Sauer, Red River Technology, Wilcox Industries, Geriatric Medical, Advocare, Texas Roadhouse and the Lids Foundation.
• The OHT product line now includes many different co-branded items, including hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, cornhole and tailgate games and accessories, drinkware, sneakers, loungewear, tailgate tents and chairs, keychains, lanyards, mugs, throws and beach towels.
• ‘47 Brand, the nation’s premier sports apparel company, is OHT’s exclusive headwear and apparel partner. “They took a chance on us, and it’s been a match made in heaven,” Dot Sheehan said. With ’47, OHT pioneered the “camo” apparel trend now popular nationwide at the college and pro league level.
• OHT currently has nine licensees and is adding more.
• OHT products are sold through over 900 retailers and an estimated 5,000 retail doors. Supporting retailers include industry leaders Follett; Lids; Target; Barnes & Noble; Dick’s; Hibbett; and Modell’s. In 2017, Target brought OHT merchandise into 1,000 of its stores. OHT is also a recognized charity in Amazon’s Smile program.
How OHT differs from other veteran focused 501c3’s:
• Many Americans express support for our nation’s military and veterans, but not everyone converts those sentiments into action. That’s the beauty of OHT – supporting the cause is as simple as making a purchase.
• OHT fills a critical financing gap that exists between conventional organizations and government programs that don’t cover (and/or can’t quickly meet) a wide range of personal needs that help vets, yet regularly fall through the cracks.
• Dot rallied around a different operating model in forming OHT: be a “pass-through” 501c3 that funds carefully selected (typically) smaller military support organizations – compatible with OHT’s mission. The organization works with dozens of its college and university partners to identify worthy organizations in their own communities.
• The organization is transparent and lean. A decade since its founding (2018 is OHT’s 10-year anniversary), Dot remains the only employee. She believes in OHT so much she retired from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 to focus 100% on the cause. Hundreds of volunteers and an actively engaged Board of Directors help spark the cause.
• OHT pioneered the first national philanthropic co-branded cause marketing retail apparel licensing program in conjunction with America’s colleges and universities. Hats and gear feature the college logo in addition to the OHT brand. A royalty paid by the manufacturer for the sale of each OHT product generates the revenue stream OHT uses to fund carefully selected organizations that fulfill the OHT mission.
• The organization has inspired nearly one and a half million consumers to make a “purchase with a purpose.” Dot Sheehan says, “Love of university and love of country is a powerful combination.”
• Since 2014, Operation Hat Trick has given out almost $700,000 to programs that meet its mission. The organization is on track to reach an aggregate $1,000,000 in donations by 2019.” 85% of all OHT royalty proceeds support the recovery of wounded service members and veterans.
• To date, OHT has provided funding to approximately 60 organizations in two dozen states, many of which treat wounded service members and veterans across the USA. The organization is driven to positively impact veterans in all 50 states.
• There’s a philosophy of “act compassionately, move quickly and make a difference” behind OHT.
• Organizations that have benefitted from OHT include Walter Reed National Military Medical Center; Veterans Count; Navy SEAL Foundation; Travis Mills Foundation: Liberty House; Project Sanctuary; Semper Fi Fund; Yellow Ribbon Fund; Homes for Our Troops; MN Alliance for Veterans; Idaho Veterans Garden; Naval Hospital in San Diego; Brazos Valley Cares; and the Adaptive Training Foundation. (See the full list on the DONATE NOW page at www.operationhattrick.org).
• Working through “pass through” organizations that meet the OHT mission, the organization has donated money to build a cabin at a veterans’ summer camp, sponsored hunting, fishing and skiing trips and helps support a facility’s bed for veterans with substance abuse. “We will thoughtfully evaluate every need; anything veterans need to work through their injuries and rebuild their lives,” Dot says.
• Other examples of OHT support include paying for adaptive equipment for amputees; acquiring service dogs; buying shoes for prosthetic legs; paying for a custom bow for an injured sharp shooter with a severe shoulder injury; therapeutic mattresses for vets with spinal injuries; covering emergency rent, heating oil or car payments when those who suffer from PTSD can’t work.
• OHT’s Excellence in Service award annually recognizes universities that reflect its core value of selfless service. Texas A&M University won the award in 2017; the four finalists were Boise State; University of Oklahoma; University of Alabama; and Old Dominion University. Winning schools are selected based on their efforts to fully integrate OHT on their campuses, e.g. via retail and bookstore presence; promoting veterans causes via social media and advertising; and generating additional revenue that supports the recovery of wounded U.S. service members and veterans.
What third parties say about Operation Hat Trick:
“I love the fact that OHT is helping those who have been wounded and trying to recover from their visible and invisible injuries. Laura and I will spend the rest of our lives making sure their lives are as good as they can be.”
– Former President George W. Bush
“The work you’ve done to mobilize young people on behalf of veterans and wounded service members is truly inspiring and I look forward to following your efforts as they continue to grow.”
— Former President Bill Clinton
“Thanks Operation Hat Trick for giving Michigan State University the opportunity to partner with an incredible organization. Michigan State is proud to co-brand and increase awareness and support for OHT and the military organizations you support. This is an easy program to get on board with since OHT and ’47 Brand make it so easy for our retailers to participate. Our fans were very excited to support the program this past year and we look forward to a long partnership going forward.”
— Samantha Stevens, Director of Licensing, Michigan State University
“It continues to be a joy and an honor to partner with Operation Hat Trick to support those who choose to serve our country. When you become aware of these warriors and their great need, there is NO other choice than to take action. We are so grateful for Operation Hat Trick’s servant leadership in this way and are proud to serve alongside them in this great endeavor.”
— Cole Price, Director of Licensing, University of Alabama
“Your support, totaling $20,000, over the past four years, has helped the Semper Fi Fund to grow and evolve our programs to meet the changing needs of our service members and their families.”
—Karen Guenther, President, Executive Director and Founder, Semper Fi Fund
“Ma’am, you’ve almost made me feel normal today.”
— Severely burned patient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center upon receiving an OHT hat
“Operation Hat Trick is an incredible organization that we are tremendously proud to support. Watching OHT’s growth over the years has been inspiring and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to their success and aid in the imperative work that they do in supporting our troops.”
— Steven D’Angelo, co-owner of ’47
“I can only say one thing and that is AWESOME … I am amazed at what you have put together for wounded soldiers. Just a wrought iron vision for you … I remember when I got wounded and I was getting a quilt that was sewn together by an old patriotic woman who belonged to a church in Indiana. I have no words to describe what it’s like to receive something that was given from an American to a wounded soldier who is sitting in a hospital bed feeling helpless. It truly is beyond comprehension.”
— SEAL teammate of Nate and Mike
“If it wasn’t for Operation Hat Trick, we wouldn’t be where we are today. When you first met Travis at Walter Reed and then visited his first camp, you were the first and only ones at the time who gave us legitimate hope that building a retreat for Veterans was going to work. You were also the first to donate legitimate money to help us get the project off the ground. So here we are today at this beautiful retreat in Maine with Veterans and their families thanks to your believing in us.”
— Lynn Harvey, Executive Director, Travis Mills Foundation
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