Our Story

In 2017, BraveHearts’ pilot program for Trail to Zero began in New York City. Since then, BraveHearts has brought its rides into more cities, increasing the reach of its message. BraveHearts’ rides bring the overwhelming statistic of 20 Veterans who die by suicide per day to the forefront of Americans’ minds, while also educating the public about equine-assisted services and the benefits they can provide as an alternative approach to healing.

It is BraveHearts’ greatest hope to reach Veterans who are currently battling suicidal ideations to let them know that they are not alone, their community cares, and equine-assisted services are here to help. Join BraveHearts on its mission to spread awareness of the healing power of horses and ultimately put an end to Veteran suicide.

BraveHearts is forever grateful for the NYPD Mounted Unit, US Park Police Mounted Horse Unit, the Chicago Mounted Unit, Kentucky Horse Park Mounted Police, and the HCSO-Mounted Patrol for standing behind us as we continue to ride until 20 becomes ZERO.

Our Rides

Where We Have Been:

  • Bull Valley, IL – 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • Chicago, IL – 2019, 2021
  • Fort Wayne, IN – 2021, 2023
  • Houston, TX – 2020
  • Lexington, KY – 2020, 2021
  • New York, NY – 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • Normandy, France – 2023
  • St. Louis, MO – 2022
  • Washington, DC – 2018, 2019

Where We Are Going in 2024:

  • New York, NY – 9/28/24
  • More dates coming soon!

Meet the U.S. Normandy

Trail to Zero Riders

 

The following individuals will be riding in Normandy, France

on BraveHearts Team on June 2, 2023 & June 2, 2023

Amanda Bethards, US Navy

Amanda was introduced to BraveHearts in 2017 by a happenstance visit with Bill at a local store. She is forever grateful for the introduction to such a life-changing organization. Amanda is continuing to learn how to manager her stress and anxiety through the guidance of the amazing therapy horses. Last summer, Amanda became a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor with the help and mentorship of the BraveHearts team. As a Trail to Zero ambassador since 2019, Amanda takes every opportunity to share the Trail to Zero mission to end veteran suicide to all she meets. “The D-Day invasion was really the turning point in WWII. Seeing this collaboration of forces come together to ultimately cause Germany to surrender was monumental. Now being able to collaborate with like minded missions to raise awareness of equine-assisted services and fight to end veteran suicide is completely humbling.”

Ben Jalove, USMC

Since leaving service, Ben has struggled with PTSD and went through a number of VA programs to help fill what was lost during his time served, without relief. Once Ben found BraveHearts in 2019, that void was finally filled. Ben believes that without BraveHearts, he would not be here today. Being at BraveHearts and with the horses has given him a new light in life, helping him grow as a father and man. Ben became a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor earlier this year and is now teaching fellow veterans how horses can change their lives too. “My grandfather, Arthur ‘Beano’ Anthony Jalove, was a paratrooper in WWII and part of the 101st Airborne who landed on the beaches of Normandy. When he got home, my grandfather struggled with the aftermath of war. With the support of my grandmother, he got through it. It is a legacy for me to carry his name and is a humbling honor to be on this ride and step foot on the lands he fought to protect.”

Bill Mercurio, US Army

Bill began as a participant with BraveHearts in 2016 alongside his wife, who is an avid horse lover. Bill however andno experience with riding, but quickly became immersed in the program. In 2018, Bill became a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor now teaching other veterans healing horsemanship. After losing his son tragically in 2017, Bill stated that if were not from BraveHearts, the horses, and his faith, he does not know how he would have been able to get through such a difficult time. Bill was one of the original riders on the Inaugural Trail to Zero ride held in October 2017 through New York City, NY and has completed 11 rides since. “My father and three uncles served during WWII. Knowing their experiences closely, while admiring the back story of how D-Day came to be has always been a fascination of mine. The details that went into such an important and dangerous mission have, rightfully so, gone down in history. To commemorate such history on hallowed ground and to ensure freedom and liberty for many, will be an honor I will cherish forever.”

David Mould, U.S. Marine Corps

David first connected with BraveHearts in early 2018 looking for a program where he could volunteer his time to help fellow veterans following the passing of his dear wife. He never imagined the impact that BraveHearts would have on his life now 5 years later. David is an active member of our veterans program riding multiple times a week and has completed 5 Trail to Zero rides to date. BraveHearts has allowed him a place to heal, serve, and nourish his love of horses, especially his favorite little AQHA mare, Rosie. “I am still processing the magnitude of the opportunity that is riding on Trail to Zero Normandy. I’ve been on a number of Trail to Zero rides, but this truly shows how endless this mission is. My father and his three brothers (my uncles) all fought in WWII. Being able to pay my respect to those who fought for our freedoms and those of our allied countries, is an unbelievable honor.” 

Ryan Ohrmundt, U.S. Army

Ryan was a student teacher in high school when the Twin Towers were attacked in 2001. Following graduation, Ryan signed up to join the Army to defend the country he loves. Ryan always grew up loving horses because of how gentle and powerful they are. They became an important part of Ryan’s life once he began working with them at BraveHearts. He soon realized the impact of the horses, and, in particular, the mustangs, and their ability to teach him how his own behaviors affect those surrounding him. Ryan has been a veteran at BraveHearts the longest out of this group, riding since 2010. Ryan was part of the five veterans who rode in the Trail to Zero pilot ride New York City, NY in 2017. “Riding with this team in Normandy is what we all need to remind us of how many before us sacrificed their own lives in order for us to pursue ours.”

Mitchell Reno, U.S. Army

Mitchell was introduced to BraveHearts through an Illinois VA program he was enrolled in 2015. When he saw the mustangs, it was love at first sight. After years of struggling with substance abuse and PTSD attacks, Mitchell, for the first time since the military, was able to see a future for himself and has the feeling that everything is going to be ok. Mitchell became a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor returning service to BraveHearts, a program that means so much to him. Mitchell was one of the five veterans who rode in the Inaugural Trail to Zero ride in October 2017 through New York City, NY. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to put an international spotlight on Veteran suicide. Victor Frankl said in his book, “Man can live through anything, if only he can find ‘meaning’.” BraveHearts gives me meaning. My grandfather fought on D-Day. To be present on this mission where he carried out the mission ultimately ending WWII truly renders me speechless. It is an honor.”

Meggan Hill-McQueeney President/COO

Meggan Hill-McQueeney is a lifelong equestrian. Meggan started a therapeutic riding program in 1996 and began a second program in 1999. Meggan is a PATH International Master Level Instructor, a Special Olympics coach, a trainer for Illinois Special Olympics coaches, and a PATH Intl. evaluator. In 2010, Meggan stepped into the role of BraveHearts President/COO. She is the 2015 recipient of the PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award, honoring her great dedication, proven leadership and high ethical standards as well as her ability to develop and implement innovative, creative and effective ideas for the industry. Meggan’s theories have resulted in the ability of BraveHearts to expand its veteran services nationally, helping BraveHearts PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center retain its status as the largest veteran program in the nation, using innovative equine-assisted services. Meggan’s desire to provide quality programing through higher-degree horsemanship with veterans is achieved through advanced concepts including gentling wild mustangs; mentoring veterans to become PATH Intl. certified instructors and working cattle. In 2016 Meggan created Trail to Zero and has led 17 rides, to date, covering numerous cities across the US. Under her leadership, BraveHearts has developed a top-notch team of staff and extraordinary horses providing 9,880 hours of equine-assisted services to 870 veterans in 2022 with 458 volunteers – all at no cost to any veteran and their family members.

Donate

See Our 2022 St. Louis Trail to Zero Ride Here:

In The Media

Contact us