Shown are judges from the seventh annual Never Give Up, Never Quit Gymnastics Invitational with U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills. In front is Valerie Jackson. Back from left are Lynn Beliveau, Carlee Cummings, Jackie Sullivan, Mary Madore, Mills, Mary Woodfin, Karen Ciccotelli, Ann Felsentraeger and Noella Sullivan. Submitted photo

AUGUSTA — The seventh annual Never Give Up, Never Quit Gymnastics Invitational, held Jan. 27 at the Augusta Armory, was the most successful in the event’s history, raising $29,364 for the post-9/11 recalibrated veterans and their families served at the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat in Rome.

Carol Brewer, meet director of Decal Gymnastics in Augusta and USA Gymnastics Maine State Chair, helps to organize the annual event with gym owners and daughters, Delani Sher and Alexis Evans. Additionally, the gym’s team of 60-plus members all ensure the event’s success, one father alone raising $2,500 in raffle sales, according to a news release from Molly Lovell-Keely with the foundation.

The Augusta Armory was host to a patriotic event to benefit the Travis Mills Foundation, which hosts post-911 recalibrated veterans and their families from throughout the country for barrier-free experiences. Submitted photo

“It’s a team and family event,” said Brewer, adding that this year’s competition attracted 500 gymnasts from throughout Maine, along with teams from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont. Brewer first met Mills when his daughter, Chloe, competed at the gym.

“Folks like the fact that it’s going to a veteran organization right here in Central Maine,” Brewer said. “We serve several veteran families. It means a lot to all of us. It’s truly our favorite meet of the year.”

The Travis Mills Foundation provides barrier-free experiences to post-911 veterans with life-changing injuries, and their families, at its Veterans Retreat in the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine.

Mills stopped by the event to thank and encourage participants.


“I loved my job,” said Mills, who lost his limbs in a 2012 IED explosion in Afghanistan while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army. “But I lost my chance to serve my country … the best job I ever had,” he said, adding that starting the foundation was how he found inspiration to persevere after a life-changing injury. “My new purpose was to give back,” he added.

Mills shared about a TMF program he’s particularly proud of, the Foundation’s Warrior PATHH Program to assist post-9/11 combat veterans and first responders achieve post-traumatic growth.

Augusta resident Noella Sullivan’s two daughters, Monroe, 11, and Lyric, 7, competed in the event as gymnasts with Decal Gymnastics; Sullivan is also a USA Gymnastics Judge. Additionally, her husband, Michael “Sully” Sullivan, has served 21 years in the U.S. Navy.

“Our family has sacrificed a lot, being a part of the military life,” Noella said. “And for us, I’m so thankful that we can give back to our brothers and sisters that did not have the best outcome. We know as a family that the bonding and adjustments to civilian life can be just as difficult as the deployment. This foundation shows our recalibrated families that there is fun and love after the most difficult day of their lives.”

The 19 seniors at Decal Gymnastics were recognized by Mills and all received a copy of his recent book, “Bounce Back: 12 Warrior Principles to Reclaim & Recalibrate Your Life.”

The next Never Give Up, Never Quit Gymnastics Invitational is scheduled for March 7-9, 2025, at the Augusta Armory.


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