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TO GIVE, TO INSPIRE | Operation Warrior Wishes In St. Charles


OPERATION WARRIOR WISHES IN ST. CHARLES In my humble opinion, we should all take the time year-round to thank and honor the men and women who work so diligently for our country and for our freedom. This month, we shine a special spotlight on their service as we celebrate Veteran’s Day around the country. However, St. Charles residents, Craig Steichen and Matt Steichen (father and son) have discovered a way to keep their veteran tribute alive throughout their whole favorite season – football season.

Operation Warrior Wishes, formerly called All32in17, really began in 2012 as just a bucket list dream to be the first father and son team to visit all 32 football stadiums in one season. Once they found it was possible, they budgeted and planned the trips but still felt there was something missing. They wanted a way to give back while they took their journey, and they came up with hosting wounded warriors as their guests to each game as a thank you for their service.

The inspiration for the mission was from Craig’s brother, Ken, (Matt’s Uncle) who was a wounded warrior and Matt’s Grandfather, Leo, who served in the navy, both heroes in Craig and Matt’s eyes. “We thought giving these military veterans an opportunity to get out and have a great experience at a game was an avenue to say thanks as well as raise awareness for a good cause,” says Craig. At the end of their journey, they visited their 32nd stadium in a record time of 103 days. After extending into playoffs and the Superbowl, they had honored 75 warriors in total.

As Chicagoans, Craig and Matt were thrilled when former Chicago Bears coach, Mike Ditka mentioned them on ESPN Monday Night Football and offered to pay for their entire trip. The financial contribution was accepted but instead put to good use to create the 501c3 now named Operation Warrior Wishes. This year they will host their 5,000th hero.

Along with attending fundraisers and making donations, the community can get involved by volunteering their time and nominating a hero of their own. For more information on Operation Warrior Wishes, visit www.warriorwishes.org.

Mindy’s November Giving Inspiration: Donate a turkey to a family in need.

ABOUT THE WRITER Mindy Kyle is the owner of Be Inspired Studios and is passionate about helping people discover what brings them joy and to live a full, healthy and happy life. She has her Masters in Fine Arts degree in creative writing from DePaul University and lives in Naperville with her husband, three children and the cutest dog in the land.

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