PLAINVILLE â€“ Local youths Michael and Kara Ahern, who raised money for veterans last year with â€śScoops for Troops,â€ť are once more doing their part to help those who served.
The duo will hold a â€śSwim-A-Thonâ€ť fundraiser Aug. 22 at Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Berlin.
Twelve-year-old Kara Ahern, a Middle School of Plainville 7th grader and champion swimmer, was inspired by her younger brother Michael, a 10-year-old student at Linden Street School, who raised $33,000 for veterans and their families last year through "Scoops for Troops." This year, she wanted to play a bigger role in the charity.
â€śI really want to help my brother, and because I am a swimmer, this is a fun way to do that,â€ť said Kara Ahern, who will be joined by her Plainville Middle School teammates Olivia Rossi and Aliveah Benn among several others.
On Aug. 22, Kara Ahern will be joined by several of her Middle School of Plainville teammates and a limited group of others at the Swim-A-Thon. There, they will be swimming a combined 1,000 laps in less than three hours with the goal of raising $3,000 for veterans.
"She was so excited by last year's success that they had to team up," said Rebecca Karabin-Ahern, mother of Kara and Michael Ahern. "It was very rewarding as their mother to see them put others first, especially veterans. It made me very proud to see how patriotic they were in giving back to veterans. You're never too old or too young to give back."
In 2019, Ahern set out to raise $400 to provide children of veterans at the Travis Mills Foundation in Rome, Maine with free ice cream. He ended up far surpassing his goals and raising $3,000.
Later that year, Michael Ahern raised a further $30,000 to help eight veterans and their families attend the Travis Mills Foundations' retreat, covering all their expenses.
The Travis Mills Foundation helps post-9/11 veterans who have been injured and lost limbs to overcome their physical obstacles and to get rest and relaxation.
This year, the siblings had big dreams for the project. Then, the covid-19 pandemic came, which presented obstacles to their fundraising efforts.
"We can no longer have face to face fundraisers like we were planning outside of places like Fancy Bagels in Southington," Karabin-Ahern said.
Despite this, Karabin-Ahern said the siblings have received strong support with their "Swim-A-Thon."
"Originally, we set out goal at $2,000, and we surpassed that goal within 24 hours with people pledging their support for swimmers," she said. "Now we are trying to raise $3,000 and we're almost at that goal."
The August 22 event will be held starting with registration at 8 a.m. at the pool of the country club at 51 Randecker Lane. The National Anthem will then be sung at 8:30 a.m., followed by the swimming taking place from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. All safety protocols and social distancing will be observed.
â€śFundraising 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,â€ť Karabin-Ahern said. â€śKara, 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.â€ť
Should the event prove a success, the Ahern family hopes to make it a larger, annual event with multiple locations.
"Michael applied for a 501(c) 3 to make Scoops for Troops an official non-profit organization," Karabin-Ahern said. "He wants to keep it going until he goes to college and expand it further to do more for local veterans."
Michael and Kara are hoping to later raise another $30,000 this year to send even more veteran families to the Travis Mills Foundation's retreat. However, the campaign is behind last yearâ€™s fundraising pace due to the pandemic, making the Swim-A-Thon's success critical to their larger efforts. The family intends to focus on fundraising via social media for the remainder of the year as well as other initiatives which will be announced in the future.
To support Kara Ahern and the other swimmers, visit the Scoops for Troops website at scoopsfortroops.org and click on the Scoops for Troops Swim-A-Thon "Learn More Here" link.
Friends and supporters are also encouraged to follow Scoops for Troops on Facebook at facebook.com/scoopsfortroops.org. All donations are tax deductible and go directly to the Travis Mills Foundation.
"We will also be accepting donations on the day of the Swim-A-Thon if people want to stop by and cheer them on," Karabin-Ahern said.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.