In 2019, 9-year-old Michael Ahern from Connecticut wanted to give back. He took his love of ice cream and made it his mission to donate $30,000 to the Travis Mills Foundation in Rome.

This summer, Ahern, now 11, presented Mills and the foundation with a $31,000 check. With the generosity of many people and a $10,000 matching gift from Bogies for our Brave, they made it happen in six months.

Michael Ahern, 11, holds a sign for his nonprofit, Scoops for Troops. Ahern sells ice cream and all proceeds go to the Travis Mills Foundation in Rome. Contributed photo

Thanks to Ahern’s ice cream nonprofit, “Scoops for Troops,” eight families can vacation at the Mills Foundation for a week. The foundation operates a retreat on the edge of Long Pond in Rome for wounded veterans (Mills prefers to call them “recalibrated” veterans) and their families.

“Michael’s dad, Scott, called me one day in 2019. Scott called to see if it were possible to do ice cream for the kids at the retreat as Michael had hoped to do with his birthday money that year,” said Brandy Dupper-Macy, Travis Mills Foundation associate director of development. “Michael’s love for ice cream and desire to share one of his favorite things to do in Maine (a boat ride to Day’s Store for ice cream) with other kids really touched our hearts.”

“It’s been an amazing journey,” said Scott Ahern, Michael’s father. ” A learning experience.”

The Travis Mills Foundation, started by well-known veteran Travis Mills, helps post 9/11 veterans who have been injured in services to our nation overcome their obstacles, strengthen their families and get some well-deserved relaxation at the retreat in Rome.

“This was his birthday gift when he turned 9,” said Rebecca Karbin-Ahern, Michael’s mom. “Coming back from the grocery store during winter break in Maine and he said ‘you know mom, instead of gifts, I want to raise money so the kids can get an ice cream on the boat.”

The boat she means is at Lakeside Scoop in Belgrade Lakes, one of Michael’s favorites.

Scoops for Troops began when Ahern started selling ice cream at “Miles for Mills” 5k in Augusta when his goal was just $400.

In April of that first year, they met with the Travis Mills Foundation about doing more.

“I wanted to raise $400 so the Travis Mills kids could get ice cream,” said Michael Ahern. ” I asked how much it would cost and they said $30,000 and that was something I wanted to do.”

He’s held many fundraisers since then including at parades, and selling ice cream at Lakeside Scoop in Belgrade Village.

Other than selling ice cream at the 5K and at various events, people can make donations at scoopsfortroops.org or at their website.

“I always tell Mike and Kara,” said Scott Ahern, their father, “you’re never too young to make a difference.”

Word on the Street is an online-only feature about trending happenings in central Maine. If you have an idea for our next Word on the Street, email Amber Carter at [email protected]

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