The No. 52 car at the Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR race on Sunday will carry the banner for a Maine-based veterans group dedicated to supporting post 9/11 veterans wounded in combat.
The Travis Mills Foundation will provide the primary sponsorship for Rick Ware Racing Ford driver Josh Bilicki as he competes at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship. The No. 52 car will carry the Travis Mills Foundation’s motto, “Never Give Up, Never Quit” according to a press statement provided to American Military News by Bangor Savings Bank.
Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, a member of the 82nd Airborne, survived an IED blast while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. Mills became a quadruple amputee as a result of the blast and is one of only five quadruple amputees in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive their injuries.
Despite his injuries, Mills went on to become a motivational speaker and established the Travis Mills Foundation in September 2013. His foundation’s mission has been to provide support to other combat-wounded veterans and offer veterans and their families an adaptive Maine vacation program.
While Bilicki races, Mills will act as an honorary official for the Sunday race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Bilicki is replacing injured NASCAR racer and Maine-resident Austin Theriault. The injured Theriault will instead join Mills for interviews and fan events throughout the race weekend.
“I’m excited to see Josh run with the Travis Mills Foundation colors this weekend and be at the track with Travis to talk about the important work he is doing for veterans and their families,” Theriault said.
The foundation sponsorship was a gift from Bangor Savings Bank, Theriault’s season sponsor.
“Austin is a Maine native and he really believes in giving back to the military and supporting his home state,” said Tyler Stockford, the marketing and event manager for the Travis Mills Foundation. “It’s a great partnership and it’s great that Bangor Savings Bank was able to give that sponsorship to us and allow us to work with Austin and the Rick Ware racing team.”
Stockford said the foundation had become a new customer to Bangor Savings Bank and the bank was quick to reach out and offer its support.
“We’ve had a wonderful partnership with Austin Theriault and, with Austin’s support, thought it was a perfect opportunity to highlight a local nonprofit that is responding to a nationwide need,” said Bob Montgomery-Rice, the President and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. “The Travis Mills Foundation’s philosophy of ‘Never give up. Never quit’ is an inspiration to us all. We hope the exposure leading up to and during the race helps the Travis Mills Foundation fulfill their mission.”
Dave Mortach – a businessman and radio personality from Cleveland, Ohio – and his wife Sophie Mortach have also joined an effort to raise money for the Travis Mills Foundation. Mortach Million Dollar Challenge will see the Mortach couple match up to $500,000 in donations to the foundation through the end of the year 2019.
The Travis Mills Foundation, which has served more than 300 veterans and their families since its start, hopes the donations and added awareness will help it expand its veteran outreach. Currently, the foundation has family programs for up to 22 weeks of the year.
“We intend on growing the number of weeks we hold each year and operating four seasons,” Stockford said.
Stockford said the Travis Mills Foundation is also working to create a new health and wellness center for veterans, which will feature an indoor pool and other accommodations to serve veterans year-round.