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BraveHearts -2019 Funding (Ford Expedition)

The support from the First Nonprofit Foundation was for the purchase of a vehicle to be used with the primary intention of Trail to Zero as well as transportation of veterans for services and/or outreach events. The foundation provided the entire amount needed to purchase the vehicle. The dealership was able to give BraveHearts a deal on this vehicle so that some funding remained to assist with insurance and license plate needs. Routine maintenance/corporate sponsorship decal stickers/continued insurance and fuel for this vehicle has all been all handled by the organization and has been sustained through donations in our operating budget and additional grant support from Trail to Zero support.

Trail to Zero 2019 would not have been as successful without this vehicle. It was because of this vehicle that we were able to bring 13 veterans, 1 Gold Star Father, and 6 support staff across the country. Without this vehicle there is no way we would have been able to travel with this many veterans and have enough space or them or their luggage and equipment. This vehicle was decaled with corporate sponsors, including First Nonprofit. During all three rides, this vehicle helped to raise awareness for the rides.  We learned that having this vehicle is an integral part of bringing awareness.  In previous years, the public seemed confused as to what the ride was for but with the vehicle parading behind the horses; the awareness for the ride was much greater.

Read Trail to Zero Group Letters 2019

Using Horsepower to Fight PTSD and Veteran Suicide



What was the problem the project solved?

Your support allowed us to bring more veterans and horses on Trail to Zero in 2019. We were able to take 13 veterans and one Gold Star Father to DC and NYC. Additionally, we were able to bring 15 veterans and one Gold Star Father to Chicago. The vehicle has helped us to spread awareness while traveling throughout the cities both during the ride and prior to the rides.

Who does the project help?

In 2019, BraveHearts has already served 1,062 military veterans a 228 veteran increase from 2018, and this number is still growing. Veteran suicide is an epidemic in our country, one that Trail to Zero is aiming to attack head on. Veterans and the public have stopped us, because of seeing the logo on the vehicle, to ask us how to get involved and how to support the cause.

What makes your solution unique?

BraveHearts services offer an alternative approach to therapy through healing horsemanship. We offer veterans services at no cost and allow them to find healing. BraveHearts is an industry leader for providing services to veterans, we continue to see interest, acceptance, and a desire from the veteran community to enter our farm gates. There are many ways that BraveHearts is unique but Trail to Zero, our diverse services, exceptional therapy horses and focused model are some of the top reasons.

How did the project make a difference?

Purchasing the Ford Expedition was a necessity in efforts to continue to expand the reach of Trail to Zero. This vehicle traveled thousands of miles across the country to help raise awareness for military suicide. Trail to Zero expanded beyond measures that we had envisioned in 2019, reaching over 800 million people through national coverage through Fox & Friends, The Ryan and Kelly Show and the Wall Street Journal. Trail to Zero continued to make a difference in the lives of the individuals who attended the ride. Trail to Zero was first developed after veterans constantly speaking of the benefits of equine-assisted services and many attributing it to giving their life purpose and helping them to not be one of the 20 veterans a day who commits suicide. Trail to Zero was designed with the help of veterans for veterans to offer a solution for the many veterans who question the value of their life and see no light at the end of the tunnel. For the veterans who attended Trail to Zero it has provided a friendship and comradery as many veterans continue to text, call, and rely on one another as a lifeline. Trail to Zero is more than a 20-mile ride, it is a movement, which through each footfall sparks a much-needed conversation in our country and offers a solution, a light at the end of the tunnel, for veterans facing crises. The results of the ride were measured through a survey as well as a letter written by the veterans who attended the ride.

How is the project sustainable?

Not applicable to the purchase of the vehicle. In regards to Trail to Zero, each year we receive more interest from donors, veterans and the community wanting to support the ride. In 2020, we plan to bring 20 veterans and 20 horses to ride 20 miles. We have initiated planning for five cities and the interest has continued to grow.

Can the project be replicated? How so?

Not applicable to purchase of the vehicle. In regards to Trail to Zero, we are currently working with NYC, Chicago, Kentucky, Houston and St. Louis to replicate this ride in 2020 with 20 veterans. In November of 2019, we presented at our international conference (PATH Intl.) on how other PATH Intl. centers could get involved with this program. It was very well received and we plan to bring a select number of veterans from other centers on this ride with BraveHearts.