March is here and along with that comes March Madness. I find myself watching far too many games but enjoy them all. Such talent on the court again this year.
It’s been amazing in the last few months with the emails I’ve received or people “tracking” me down at the Tailgate Show in Vegas to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed getting to know me thru the OHT Newsletter. So happy to see our followers are reading it.
Today I thought I’d share something about the early days of OHT and a story that has come full circle. Early on, when I founded OHT, I knew there would come a time when I would go to Walter Reed to see who had been injured, what the injuries were, and what might be needed to help those wounded warriors live an independent life. I had absolutely no idea what that meant until I traveled to Walter Reed for the first visit. Amputations, burns, and other critical injuries were the norm and the MATC (exercise room) was filled to capacity with young men and women, 19-25 primarily, who were trying to physically and mentally cope with their injuries. Their dedication to their recovery was amazing to witness!!!
Fast forward to a few years later when a group of us traveled back to Walter Reed to deliver OHT hats and visit with those who had been severely wounded. In the MATC was Travis Mills, a quadruple amputee – 1 of 5 – and Tyler, a triple amputee. I was fascinated with both men and their positive attitudes and their joy. How could that be?? Travis was the “Mayor” of the group and challenged everyone to never give up and never quit. Tyler was happy-go-lucky and wanted to show us how fast he could go in his wheelchair. He was even threatening to “pop a wheelie." And, with that he was off, going as fast as he could go around the MATC track – head back and laughing so hard. I’ll never forget it.
When he finally came to a stop, I talked to him for a while, and he told me he was getting married the next Saturday in Las Vegas. He couldn’t wait. “Think about that,” I told myself. The commitment to being a lifelong caregiver to someone you love with all your heart. I wondered if it would really happen. I’ve thought and worried about Tyler for 10 years. What happened to him? Was he happy? I’m fortunate enough to know Travis and his family – OHT has been part of his journey to build an amazing retreat in Maine. You see, from that visit to Walter Reed, I knew what OHT had to do – commit to the recovery of wounded service members and veterans. Both Travis and Tyler were the inspiration. Two weeks ago I saw a social media post with Travis in Florida with his good friend TYLER!!! There he was looking great and happy. Emotional for me because I’d thought of him so often. It was a reunion for these two and one, I’m sure, where they reminisced and gave thanks for their current lives – living their best lives.
Somewhere along the way, both needed assistance and that came from individuals, organizations like OHT, and others who understood their need for being as independent as possible. They never gave up and worked so hard to be where they are today – thankful to be with family and doing some of the most extraordinary things. We can all learn from them.
That’s all for this month. Continue to follow OHT on social media, make a purchase with a purpose or find a way to help our veterans. As Gary Sinise, a STRONG supporter of all veterans, has said, “The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.” Let’s #NeverForget!!
Operation Hat Trick recently announced having
made donations to five non-profit organizations: Let’s Chow, Adaptive Training Foundation, Veterans Count, Camp Southern Ground and Luke’s Wings.
The donations support an assortment of outreach programs for wounded and recovering service members and veterans.