In 2005, two sisters Rachel (10) and Kelsi (8) saw firsthand the hardships faced by a military family when their neighbor, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Lanier Ward, returned from Iraq severely injured. In appreciation of the family's sacrifice, the sisters launched ThanksUSA in 2006 with the goal to thank the
troops by providing their children and spouses with educational scholarships.
The sisters’ idea began as a national treasure hunt game, based on American history, which encouraged Americans to get involved through contributions and activities. Ultimately the organization was named ThanksUSA, short for “Treasure Hunt Aiding Needs of Kids and Spouses of those serving the United
States of America.” ThanksUSA has since grown into a best-in-class military family non-profit that has awarded more than $16 million in scholarships to military spouses and kids.