Rachel and Kelsi Okun are among the select group of young Americans that can include founding a non-profit to their list of achievements. In 2005, when they were just 10 and 8 years old, Rachel and Kelsi came up with the idea that would become Treasure Hunt Aiding the Needs of Kids and Spouses of those serving in the United States of America (ThanksUSA).
The main concept behind ThanksUSA came from Rachel and Kelsi’s love for treasure hunts and the need the children saw when their neighbor, Col. Lanier Ward, returned from the war in Iraq wounded from an IED explosion.
The girls came up with the idea to generate questions based on U.S. history, geography, government and laws and create an online treasure hunt. Many individuals and even whole classes participate in the hunts. Each question or clue’s answer is submitted back to the website where the team or individual treasure hunter is provided with the next clue, ultimately leading to prizes donated to the charity. The treasure hunts have been free to participate in, ThanksUSA does ask for donations to be made for the sake of helping military families.
ThanksUSA ran its ninth treasure hunt this year that concluded on May 31st. Since 2006, when ThanksUSA launched, the non-profit organization has raised over $ 9 million. The proceeds go to providing scholarships to military spouses and children. ThanksUSA has provided over 3,300 scholarships so far. And Rachel and Kelsi are not done yet.
This May, the sisters added another mark to their list of achievements when they created a new music genre: Constitution Rap or CONRAP. In the latest Youtube sensation Rachel and Kelsi rap about the Bill of Rights in order to draw attention to ThanksUSA and to raise awareness about the freedoms that American service members fight for.
In an interview with Military Connection, DJ’s Rachel and Kelsi Okun kept it real. They said, inspired by Youtube’s Epic Rap Battles, they wanted to create something outrageous and informative to gain attention for their cause. The four minute rap was written in a single day by Rachel and Kelsi and was reworked for several months. The Okun sisters recruited help from rapper Cazwell to perfect their rhymes and worked with Red Top Records to lay the track down. CONRAP is definitely worth checking out on Youtube.
While their rap careers could take off, these treasure-hunting sisters aren’t putting all of their eggs in one basket. Kelsi just completed her Sophomore year of high school, and recently became an observing member of ThanksUSA’s board, until she turns 18 and can become a full board member. Rachel became a full member of ThanksUSA’s board this spring. She also recently graduated from National Cathedral School and will be attending Yale University in the fall.
Be sure to check out ThanksUSA online, get involved and donate to their cause of reciprocating the sacrifices made by military families by providing scholarships. With your help, ThanksUSA will surpass $10 million raised for the cause.
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Military Connection: Rap Benefits Military Families: By Debbie Gregory