AUGUSTA — A central Maine-based organization that runs a retreat for wounded veterans is receiving half-a-million dollars from the winner of a recent Powerball jackpot.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills said the donation of $500,000 from a Powerball jackpot winner will go a long way and help out many families of wounded veterans.

The $500,000 donation is a big deal for the nonprofit central Maine-based Travis Mills Foundation, which in 2016 reported $1.55 million in annual revenue, according to tax-exempt filed at the time.

Lerynne West, 51, of Dexter, Iowa, was one of two winners of the third-largest Powerball jackpot of $687.9 million last month.

Now shot into the limelight, West appeared on Ellen this week to discuss events leading up to her big win. At the end of the interview, West made an announcement that she was donating $500,000 to Mills foundation.

West said the foundation had a special place in her heart before making the donation.

“My dad was a Vietnam vet,” West told Ellen DeGeneres. “I come from a long line of people who have served in the military.

“I think it’s very important to see that we never forget the sacrifices that our soldiers and families make to our country,” she added

Founder Travis Mills was returning from an event in Atlanta when he began receiving phone calls from staff members. He recalled his reaction during a Facebook live video posted Wednesday night.

“I thought, ‘Oh crap, someone died,'” he said. “Nope, someone didn’t die.”

“This lovely, amazing lady in Iowa who won the jackpot on the Powerball decided to go on Ellen today, not telling any of us and she donated, live on Ellen, $500,000 to the Travis Mills Foundation,” he added.

The foundation aims to support veterans and their families by offering all-inclusive visits to a Belgrade Lakes retreat. Last year, the foundation host 84 veterans and their families at the retreat.

“That money goes a long way; we’re going to be able to help out so many families,” Mills said. “And to that lovely young lady with three beautiful children … we want to say thank you.”

The other winner of the jackpot is from New York City. West opted to take a lump sum of $198.1 million instead of a 29 year annuity worth $343.9 million.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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