Ray Vallee poses in his Hallowell backyard where he will be hosting the second “Valleepalooza” charity event to benefit the Travis Mills Foundation. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

HALLOWELL — A business trip to Jamaica led to the creation of a massive backyard event featuring nationally-recognized musicians that has raised tens of thousands of dollars for a local foundation supporting wounded veterans.

Ray Vallee said he’s held the backyard event for more than half a decade, but this will be the second year it will be held as a fundraiser. The Travis Mills Foundation became involved after Vallee brought Mills on an annual incentive trip with his business, Combined Benefits United, to Jamaica in 2019 to speak to about 350 financial advisors and their families.

“I brought him, his wife, two kids, and his in-laws, we kind of traded bringing them on this trip for him speaking like he normally does at events throughout the country as a motivational speaker,” Vallee said.

This year’s Valleepalooza will be held Saturday, from noon to 6 p.m., at 6 Chamberlain Drive in Hallowell. Tickets are now available online at the event’s website for $75.

Travis Mills is a retired Army staff sergeant who in 2012 lost all his limbs in Afghanistan while serving in the 82nd Airborne as a result of unknowingly setting his backpack down on an improvised explosive device. He later founded the Travis Mills Foundation, which supports wounded veterans and their families through a myriad of programs, though the foundation calls them recalibrated instead of wounded.

At the end of the final day, Vallee said their business partner, David Mortach — founder and owner of Mortach Financial — and his wife Sophie donated $10,000 to the Travis Mills Foundation on the spot, adding that Mortach has since raised more than $3.4 million for the foundation. Seeing this, and being moved by Mills’ presentation, Vallee said he also wanted to help the foundation.


And he was soon inspired to turn “Valleepalooza,” an annual backyard event he’d hosted for a few years, into a fundraiser for the Mills Foundation.

Vallee describes the event as a community party for friends and families with music and food.

Ray Vallee poses in his Hallowell backyard where he will be hosting the second “Valleepalooza” charity event to benefit the Travis Mills Foundation. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“I said I wanted to do something for Travis and his foundation, so why don’t we turn my fun ‘Valleepalooza’ into a fundraiser? So we did it on short notice last October, right in the middle of COVID. I had to fight to get it approved through the city of Hallowell because of all the restrictions with COVID, and the last thing we need is to have a mass gathering and something happens.”

The Hallowell City Council narrowly approved Vallee’s first request with a 3-2 vote. According to the minutes of the Sept. 13 meeting, councilors Patrick Wynne and Peter Spiegel were opposed due to concerns about public health safety.

But when the council revisited the issue this year, during an April meeting, the event was unanimously approved.

“He’s done everything right,” Mayor George Lapointe said Thursday. “He has gotten permission from the city, he talked about parking, and he’s got facilities there.”


Vallee explained to the council that they did everything asked of them last October, including full security setting up parking so emergency vehicles could access the property, and setting up porta-potties. Tickets for the October event were $200 each, but Vallee provided free tickets to neighbors.

“We gave every family in the area two tickets to the show,” he told the council in April, “and all of them attended. We had a couple of food trucks there, and all in all it was a great day.”

He said a few hundred people attended, and they were able to write a check for about $60,000 to the Travis Mills Foundation as a result.

“That was thrown together at like the 11th hour,” he said of the October event, “so I thought, you know what? Let’s get a jump on it this year, and we did. We got Frankie Ballard, who has had multiple number ones, he’s also an ex-college baseball player. Super cool.”

Maine humorist Gary Crocker will serve as master of ceremonies welcome guests on Saturday and introduce the line-up, which will feature performances from Travis James Humphrey and Nestor Andress, the Central Maine Idol judges, a beer and wine cash bar by The Quarry Tap Room, and local food trucks.

This year, tickets will be sold at $75 each instead of $200.


“Really, there were very few locals from Hallowell at the (last) event,” he said. “I think it was a cost constraint, especially in the middle of COVID, where a lot of people had to go without, and $200 was an awful lot of money. So this year, because of corporate sponsorship, we’re gonna be able to knock the price down to $75 and hopefully make it more affordable so more local people will be able to attend.”

Ray Vallee poses in his Hallowell backyard where he will be hosting the second “Valleepalooza” charity event to benefit the Travis Mills Foundation. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Lapointe said he’s looking forward to attending this year.

“It’s certainly unique,” he said, “and how cool is it that somebody is taking the effort to raise money for the Travis Mills Foundation?”

Vallee said he’s ready to start planning next year’s event as soon as this one ends.

“I tell people all the time that if you don’t have something that moves you every day — and in Travis’ case, obviously he does — then you’re cheating yourself,” he said. “And if you do not have a current cause that you believe in, then this is one that I would recommend you attend.”

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