MR. SPORTS TRAVEL – DRIVER OF CAR WRAPPED IN AMERICAN FLAG – TO PATRIOTICALLY CELEBRATE ALL 50 UNITED STATES
CELEBRATING HIS 50TH BIRTHDAY IN 2022, THE 50 STATES TOUR BENEFITING OPERATIONFIRSTRESPONSE.ORG BEGINS FEB. 11
For the fourth time in five years, proud American Joe Connor – known as “Mr. Sports Travel” – will drive his car that is wrapped in the American Flag around the United States to raise awareness of a charity supporting military veterans. Connor will turn 50 years of age in March 2022. To celebrate the occasion, he plans on enjoying a sporting event this year in each of the 50 states – while raising awareness of Operation First Response.
The 50 States Tour Benefiting OperationFirstResponse.org is expected to begin on Feb. 11 in Honolulu, HI and end on Father’s Day, June 19, in Las Vegas, NV. For the second consecutive year, the 49-year-old, self-made San Diego entrepreneur plans to raise awareness of OperationFirstResponse.org, a charity that helps veterans, service members, first responders, and their families. Connor is single, never married and has no children.
“Operation First Response (OFR) received a tremendous response from Joe’s 2021 sports road trip and we are sincerely grateful for his ongoing support of our mission,” said Peggy Baker, Founder and President of the Culpeper, VA-based 501(c)(3) charity. “Since 2004, our organization has helped more than 25,000 of our Heroes, and with Joe’s continued support, we look forward to fulfilling our purpose throughout 2022.”
One area of focus: helping those with mental health challenges such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Operation First Response helps provide financial aid with rent/mortgage, utilities, car payments, and food while the first responder gets support at an in-patient treatment center.
Added Connor: “I often call Peggy and her selfless team the ‘Lean-Mean-Fighting-For-Veterans-Machine’ because – quite frankly – it’s so true. They hold a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for a simple reason – the donations they receive aren’t spent on marketing – they’re spent on literally helping our veterans, which is what is most vital. It’s the primary reason why I approached OFR – and why I’m hold-heartedly supporting them again. Just last year, they helped 1,730 families. My Dad’s not here to say it himself, yet I’m supremely confident I speak for my father when I say he would be extremely happy for what OFR does every day to help our true heroes.”
Connor is encouraging fans to make the “50 States Tour Pledge” – by donating $50 to OperationFirstResponse.org. In exchange for the donation, fans will receive a free-meet-and-greet or Zoom call with Connor.
Connor’s late father was named Joe too. He died in 1999 at the age of 57 after having served in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam and then later raising a family of four in West Hartford, CT with his loving wife, Joan. The father shared his love of sports with Joan and his two sons – Joe and Chris. For example, as a season-ticket holder for the then NHL Hartford Whalers, there were road trips to Boston Red Sox games, minor league baseball games, golf tournaments, Harlem Globetrotters basketball games, and winter ski trips. The late father also coached his sons and other local children in youth hockey. The parents introduced their children to many sports in their youth, from football to tennis to sailing, boat racing, water skiing, and track and field, among others.
A passionate sports fan – Connor has also been an outspoken critic of the word “Heroes” used by primarily the sports news media to describe athletes.
“Athletes are not Heroes – they are great athletes,” explained Connor. He added: “I have worked extremely hard to achieve the success I have. I’m obviously biased here, but no one worked harder than my father. While my father may never have been the smartest guy in the room – no one outworked him. My Dad always told me, my brother, and everyone he mentored, ‘just work hard and do your best.’ And that’s all he asked of others too, from his team he mentored at work to the kids he mentored as a volunteer youth hockey coach – just try hard and do your best; maximize your potential, your God-given ability.”
“I have been blessed to have a loving and supportive base of family and friends,” Connor continued, “I am also blessed and sincerely grateful to be an American. I have enjoyed sports all around the world. Yet to do what I do – to take several months off every year to sports travel – I know this reality can only happen in a free country like America.”
The 50 States Tour Benefiting OperationFirstResponse.org is slated to begin on the island of Oahu, with Connor planning to attend a rivalry basketball game on Feb. 11 between two Honolulu-based colleges – Hawaii Pacific and Chaminade. After returning to the mainland, he then plans to drive the American Flag Mobile to games across the lower 48 states, plus the District of Columbia. Connor is scheduled to fly to Alaska either in October and/or November, which would be the last of the 50 states in which he plans to enjoy a sporting event this year.
Connor has been “sports traveling” for more than 25 years. He’s already attended a game at every North American professional venue across the “big four” – every NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB venue. But that’s not all. He’s also enjoyed a contest at the home of nearly every school that competes in football, basketball, baseball, and hockey at the NCAA Division I level, as well as countless professional and amateur competitions in more than 40 other sports. Additionally, Connor has enjoyed sports on six continents and in more than 35 countries. From Feb. 5, 2018, until Dec. 11, 2019 – a period of 675 days – he enjoyed a sporting event every single day.
On the 2022 mainland portion of his tour, Connor will attend a sporting event every day too, from Feb. 20 to June 19. Over this 120-day period, he anticipates enjoying a sporting event in each of the lower 48 states, plus the District of Columbia. During this time frame, he plans to enjoy up to 15 different sports, particularly providing a platform to amateur athletics at the non-NCAA Division I collegiate level as well as high school sports.
Given the frequency and volume of attended events over more than two decades, Connor anticipates achieving several sports travel milestones in 2022, multiple goals of which he set more than 15 to 20 years ago. For example, on Feb. 24, he will attend a game at Tarleton State University in Texas, which would mark the last game of all NCAA Division I men’s basketball venues attended. As of the 2021-22 season, there are 357 NCAA Division I basketball programs scattered across 49 states. A week later, on Mar. 3, he anticipates going to a game at Siena College in New York. Siena is one of about 20 NCAA Division I women’s programs that do not share the same venue as their male counterparts – to date, Connor has enjoyed a game at each of these venues too, except for Siena’s on-campus women’s hoops home.
In 2022, a total of 300 schools will compete in NCAA Division I baseball. On May 28, his goal is to have completed seeing a home game at each of these schools. Come football and next college hockey season, Connor anticipates reaching two additional major milestones: completing enjoying a game at every NCAA D-I men’s football and hockey school. The 2022 season will feature 130 and 60 teams, respectively, in each of these two sports. On Jan. 20, 2022, in Stockton, California, he completed a goal of enjoying a game at every G-League venue, the NBA’s version of the minor leagues.
Connor began sports traveling in the 1990s and finished catching a game at every NBA venue by 2012 (he’s since been to all its new venues opened since 2012). He finished seeing a game at every MLB venue in 1999, every NHL venue in 2010, and every NFL venue in 2008.