America’s Athletes to Honor America’s Heroes Playing America’s Pastime in Support of Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Posted on February 14, 2017

Operation Hawkeye STRIKE FORCE teams challenge others to pledge donations based on their performance on the baseball diamond in 2017 to help children and families of fallen special operations warriors.

Mclean, Virginia, February 14, 2017. High school, college, and travel baseball players from across the United States will leverage their skill on the baseball diamond in 2017 to rally support for America’s special operations community through STRIKE FORCE, a new program created in partnership between Operation Hawkeye (OHe), the American Baseball Coaches Association, PLEDGE IT, and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF), a leading non-profit dedicated to ensuring no-cost college scholarship grants and educational counseling to the children surviving special operations personnel who lose their life in the line of duty.

Since 1980, over 1,000 heroes have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, including Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Rangers and Night Stalker aviators, Air Force pararescuemen and combat controllers, and Marine Raiders. When they died, whether in training or on the battlefield, many of these warriors left behind loved ones, including over 1,100 children. STRIKE FORCE members will honor this sacrifice and turn hits, strikeouts, and/or home runs into funds for SOWF, thanks to the generosity of individuals and enterprises who share their commitment to the cause.

The STRIKE FORCE program consists of three elements: (i) a nationwide high school competition called RUNS FOR WARRIORS taking place in April of 2017, through which varsity teams can leverage runs scored during the month to raise funds for SOWF and earn a chance to win one of three prize packages valued at over $15,000 each, including pitching machines, radar guns, gear and equipment, apparel, training aids, and other items donated by a “who’s who” of top baseball companies; (ii) a college program, through which varsity and club teams can leverage runs, hits, strikeouts, or home runs during designated game(s) or event(s) to raise funds for SOWF through Veterans Day; and (iii) a travel program, through which teams can leverage runs, hits, strikeouts, or home runs during designated game(s) or event(s) to raise funds for SOWF through Veterans Day.

According to Will Thomas, a senior at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC, and returning Ace for the Eagles Varsity Baseball team who is heading up the STRIKE FORCE, “our program is designed to accomplish two main goals.” “First,” he explains, “we hope it helps raise awareness of the sacrifices being made by our special operations warriors and their loved ones.” “Second,” Thomas adds, “the program provides interested high school, college, and travel teams, including coaches, players, families, and fans, with an impactful way to honor that sacrifice and support the children and families of the fallen through the sport of baseball.”

For the American Baseball Coaches Association, participation in the program comes naturally. The Association’s Executive Director, Craig Keilitz observes, “We are proud to partner with an organization that assist the families of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in serving our country. Operation Hawkeye: STRIKE FORCE is a worthy endeavor.”

In addition to baseball teams, the STRIKE FORCE also includes leading enterprises committed to the cause, referred to as “Multipliers.” With outreach still underway, several leading baseball companies have already jumped on board, including Ball Fabrics, Baseball America, CamelBak, Collins Company, Combat Flip Flops, Diamond Kinetics, Easton, Jaeger Sports, JUGS Sports, Marucci Sports, OT Sports, Pelican Bat Wax, Prep Baseball Report, Sports Attack, SWING IQ (Majestic Athletics), Tanner Tees, and Tucci Lumber. Some of these firms also plan to partner with Operation Hawkeye on STRIKE FORCE Gear, with proceeds benefiting SOWF. “Marucci Sports is proud to support the Operation Hawkeye: STRIKE FORCE campaign to honor fallen special operations warriors and their families,” states Kurt Ainsworth, Co-Founder and CEO of the company, adding “We’re forever grateful for the service and sacrifice of our country’s bravest heroes, and we’re honored to help support their families and communities.”

STRIKE FORCE Partners also come from outside the baseball community. PLEDGE IT Founder & Chief Executive Officer Scott Shirley explains his company’s motivation, “We started PLEDGE IT on our common belief in the power of sport for social good. It gives us great pride to support the STRIKE FORCE 2017 national baseball program by providing an online solution to empower teams to raise funds for America’s special operations community. PLEDGE IT is also proud to partner with Operation Hawkeye, American Baseball Coaches Association, and Special Operations Warrior Foundation.” OGSystems (OGS), a leader in technology innovation for the Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community (IC) and Esri, the global leader in spatial analytics technology, are collaborating on a state-of-the-art storymap to further the cause. “Passion for mission is at the foundation of OGSystems and why we are proud to support STRIKE FORCE,” said Omar Balkissoon, CEO and Director of Business Operations of the company, adding “this is a spectacular opportunity to support the men and women who serve our country and to raise awareness of their sacrifice.”

SOWF will use funds raised by the STRIKE FORCE to advance its mission of ensuring no-cost college scholarship grants and educational counseling to the children surviving special operations personnel who lose their life in the line of duty. Additionally, SOWF provides funds to families of severely wounded and hospitalized special operations personnel to meet their immediate financial needs. Steve McLeary, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation’s Executive Director, expressed his appreciation: “Thank you Operation Hawkeye and all involved with STRIKE FORCE. Your support does more than ensure that every child of a fallen special operator receives a fully funded education, it honors the sacrifice of our fallen and the families they leave behind.”

“For teams and enterprises that understand baseball is one of freedom’s blessings purchased at great cost, STRIKE FORCE offers a way of honoring that sacrifice through actions that will meaningfully benefit the families of the fallen,” sums up Thomas, who launched Operation Hawkeye to support the special operations community in 2011 at the age of 12.

#BASEBALLISNTFREE

For additional information about Operation Hawkeye: STRIKE FORCE, please contact Will Thomas at Operation Hawkeye via email at will@ophawkeye.com, or by telephone at (703) 964-7255.

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About Operation Hawkeye

Operation Hawkeye (OHe, http://ophawkeye.com), is a national grassroots mission uniting interested individuals, enterprises, and nonprofit organizations in support of the special operations community, founded in 2011 by Will Thomas, currently a senior at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC. OHe honors fallen special operations warriors and rallies emotional and financial assistance for nonprofit organizations and scholarships, mainly through athletic challenge platforms, gear collaborations with leading companies, and special events. OHe has been featured on CBS Evening News, Sports Illustrated KIDS, SI.com, CBSSports.com, CNN, and other major media outlets.

About the Special Operations Warrior Foundation

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF, http://specialops.org) was founded in 1980 to serve the military’s special operations forces and their families. A tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, SOWF is dedicated to ensuring no-cost college scholarship grants and educational counseling to the children surviving special operations personnel who lose their life in the line of duty. Additionally, SOWF provides funds to the families of severely wounded and hospitalized special operations personnel to meet their immediate financial needs.

About the American Baseball Coaches Association

Established in 1945, the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA, http://abca.org) is the primary professional organization for baseball coaches at the amateur level. ABCA members represent all 50 states and 23 countries. Since its initial meeting of 27 college baseball coaches in June 1945, Association membership has broadened to include eight divisions: NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, Junior College (NJCAA and Pacific Association Division), High School and Youth.

About PLEDGE IT

PLEDGE IT (https://pledgeit.org) is the leading online sports fundraising platform, empowering teams and athletes to raise money based on their gameday performance. Fans can pledge for every home run, touchdown, or goal scored to raise funds for their team or favorite charity. PLEDGE IT allows athletes to support their cause by simply playing the game.

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