Twelve-year-old Kara Ahern, a Middle School of Plainville seventh grader and champion swimmer, knew as far back as a year ago that she wanted to play a bigger role in helping her younger brother Michael make his Scoops for Troops veterans charity initiative a huge success.
Michael had big dreams for the project, and the siblings planned to team together to make 2020 an even more successful fundraising year than the charity’s inaugural campaign in 2019.
Then came COVID-19.
Despite obstacles presented by the pandemic, which has created major fundraising challenges for charities large and small, Kara, Michael and Scoops for Troops are persevering, with Kara dipping her toes – literally – into the Scoops for Troops fundraising waters for the very first time.
Kara was joined by several of her Plainville Middle School teammates and a limited group of others on Aug. 22 at the very first Scoops for Troops Swim-A-Thon at Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington. It was the charity project’s first organized fundraising event of the year.
“Fundraising this year has admittedly been difficult, but Kara and Michael are as determined as ever to get past this pandemic and make Scoops for Troops even bigger and better,” the youngsters’ mother, Rebecca Karabin-Ahern, said in the lead-up to the swim-a-thon. “Kara, the other participating swimmers and their parents are so excited to have this worthy event to look forward to in what has been a very difficult summer.”
“I really want to help my brother and because I am a swimmer, this is a fun way to do that,” said Kara, who was to be joined by her MSP teammates Olivia Rossi and Aliveah Benn, among several others. “I think the two of us working together can really make Scoops for Troops a big success.”
Michael, a 10-year-old Linden Street School student, started Scoops for Troops early last year with a goal of raising $400 and providing children of recalibrated veterans at the Travis Mills Foundation’s Rome, Maine retreat with free ice cream. That goal was quickly met, and another goal of raising $30,000 was established to help veterans and their families on a broader scale. The campaign ultimately raised more than $33,000 in 2019.
The Travis Mills Foundation helps post-9/11 veterans who have been injured in service to our nation – many who have lost one or more limbs – overcome their physical obstacles, strengthen their families and get some richly-deserved rest and relaxation.
Michael’s 2019 campaign will send eight recalibrated veterans and their families to the foundation’s retreat for a week, all-expenses-paid.
Michael and Kara are hoping to raise another $30,000 this year to send even more veteran families to the retreat, and the two have long-term aspirations of establishing their own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, aiding additional veteran charities and raising $1 million before Michael enters college. With their parents’ assistance, work has already begun on formal establishment of independent charitable status.
With COVID-19 still a major concern, the family intends to focus on fundraising via social media the remainder of the year and other select, carefully chosen initiatives.
Follow Scoops for Troops on Facebook and visit scoopsfortroops.org. All donations are tax deductible and go directly to the Travis Mills Foundation.