Operation Warrior Wishes, Formerly known as All32in17, began as a father & son bucket list. A dream to be the first father & son to ever attend an NFL game at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season.
Matt & Craig Steichen, a father and son from the suburbs of chicago, bonded thru attending sporting events together. Their passion was going to football games. In February of 2012 Matt was building a scrapbook with pictures of all the stadiums him & his dad had visited. As he pieced it together he had an idea to create a sports bucketlist for him and his dad to complete. The first item on the bucket list was to attend an NFL game at every stadium across the country in their lifetime. But then Matt asked his Dad a simple question.
“Is it possible to attend a game at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season?”
The answer was unknown. Over the next few months The father & son patiently waited for the 2012 NFL schedule to be released mid April. The day it was released The duo spent all night trying to logistically map out if it was possible.
Above is the Original Logo designed for the mission. Operation Warrior Wishes was originally named “All32in17.” All32in17 stood for going to “All 32 NFL stadiums in 17 weeks” (one season).
The Photo to the right is our original schedule that we created the day the NFL schedule was released in April of 2012
They discovered it was possible to get to all 32 stadiums within the 17 week season, however, due to the cost of attending an NFL game, the cost of travel, The fact that Matt was married to his high school sweetheart, and working a full time job made this task seem more impossible than possible. They knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the father and son decided to take a leap of faith and try to complete the journey anyways.
Over the next few months, the father & son planned their tour. They budgeted their own money to turn their dream into a reality. But after all the planning they both felt as if something was missing. The Father and son team wanted to find a way to make this trip special & take this journey for a greater cause. That’s where their journey turned into a mission.
Matt & Craig brainstormed a few different ideas on ways they could give back along the way. They ended up coming up with the idea to invite wounded warriors as their guests to each game to thank the soldiers for the service & Sacrifices they had made
Craig’s brother, Ken, (Matt’s uncle) is a wounded warrior & Matt’s Grandfather, Leo, served in the Navy. Ken & Leo are a few of Matt & Craig’s heroes. The father & son both agreed that bringing wounded warriors to each game was a great idea because it would give the warriors an opportunity to get out and have some fun & it gave Matt and craig an avenue to say thanks as well as raise awareness for a great cause.
Their official mission Began on September 5th 2012 in New York City. Not really knowing what they were getting themselves into, Matt & Craig met Marine Petty officer Damian Smith and Gunnery SGT Chris Claude. From the moment they met they knew their mission was going to be special. The guys had lunch before heading to the stadium, spent time on the sidelines during pregame, got to see the NFL season kickoff and spent time listening to Chris & Damian’s stories & got to know eachother on a train ride back to New York after the game.
That day changed Matt & Craig’s life forever. They both realized that this trip was going to be so much more meaningful than just going to football games. The mission gave them a greater appreciation for the service and sacrifices the men and women of our armed forces make for our freedom. It was a life changing experience for them both.
In all Matt & Craig visited Thier 32nd stadium in a world record time of 103 days. More importantly, they had honored over 65 wounded warriors during the regular season and planned to continue thier mission during the playoffs with hopes of honoring warriors at the superbowl!
Thanks to Mercedes Benz Matt & Craig reached that goal and had 4 warriors at the big game! In just over 4 months they had had honored 75 warriors at a total of 35 NFL games in 1 season!
ESPN had shared their journey with the world on Veterans Day which opened up a lot of doors for the father & son team. Da Coach, Mike Ditka had even offered to pay for their entire trip. The Steichens accepted Coach Ditka’s offer, but did not take the money for themselves. Instead they took the money and created Operation Warrior Wishes. A 501c3 non-profit organization to continue their mission of honoring military warriors from the battlefields to the ballfields.
In 2013, Operation Warrior Wishes was blessed to have New Era sponsor their “ALL32IN17” mission and the father & son were able to double what they accomplished in 2012.
Since organizing as a 501c3,Operation Warrior Wishes has been honored to host thousands of warriors at hundreds of events across the country. They have been humbled to also host Gold Star Families as their guests too.
Craig, Matt & the 7 other board members continue to volunteer their time to make these warrior wishes come true & are very conscious of how the organizations’ money is spent. Since becoming a 501c3 the organization is proud to say that more than 95% of donations have gone directly to making warrior wishes come true and giving back to the warriors!
The father & son could not have created this organization without the help of so many people along the way. The father & son are extemely thankful for everyone who has helped them give back to the ones who give us our freedom. They never imagined how giving back to these warriors would have changed their lives forever. They want to help educate people about the sacrifices these brave men and women make for us & inspire others to go out and make a difference.
Operation Warrior Wishes has expanded its operations to Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, Football, NASCAR, & other Entertainment Events. Their goal is still the same. They strive to honor as many warriors as possible & provide unforgettable experiences along the way!