While two sisters, Rachel (10) and Kelsi (8), were on a family vacation in August 2005, they became fascinated with the appeal of treasure hunts. They were trying to locate the treasures hidden by Michael Stadther in his book, A Treasure's Trove, and they asked their parents about the historical basis for the clues in the movie, National Treasure.
The family discussion turned into the idea of creating a national treasure hunt game, based on American history and American values, which could encourage Americans to "thank" the troops through contributions and activities. After researching what programs are available to troops and their families, they decided to establish a scholarship program for the children and spouses of American troops using private, corporate and federal funding. Ultimately, both the treasure hunt and the scholarship program were grouped under the moniker of ThanksUSA, short for "Treasure Hunt Aiding Needs of Kids and Spouses of those serving the United States of America."