About Us

Our Board Members

The board members of HITVERAS come from many different backgrounds but have found a common cause that unites them—their love for horses and their compassion for mistreated animals. Their ages range from 30 to almost 70, and their vocations are equally as diverse.

We all work full-time in fields ranging from medical, to teaching, to computer, to motherhood. We are diverse in personality and strong in commitment to this cause.

Ande Armstrong

Ande is the founder of Hope In The Valley Equine Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc. She started her human health care career as a paramedic and became a flight RN on LifeWatch air ambulance after she obtained her nursing license. She has worked for Wesley Medical Center since 1985 and is currently an RN in the Radiology Department.

In September of 2005, Ande was at a local sale barn looking at horses. She saw Jim and pitied him, he was so gaunt and weak. She wondered how anyone could leave a horse unable to chew food to starve to death in a pasture full of grass. As she continued to look at horses throughout the sale barn, the image of Jim stayed with her. He had once been a beautiful horse and she saw in his eyes the spirit and determination that was dying with him.

Ande turned back and bought Jim. He had looked her in the eye and they had connected. When she brought him home, she discovered more about the sickening results that abuse and starvation had wrought upon Jim. Lisa had come to trim Jim's feet, and they soon discovered he could not lift his hind feet without falling down. The horse had grown so weak he could not support his structure on three feet, even for the time it took to clean and trim his hoof. One of the lasting legacies of Jim's abuse was that he never allowed anyone to clean his hind feet. Ande figured it was because even after regaining strength, the fear of falling never left him.

Ande fed him mash for the rest of his life; food that he didn't have to chew, and he lived his last years as a testament to kindness and trust. Click here to read more about Jim. Jim became a symbol to Ande that there is a great need in the world, and her health care career expanded to encompass equines. It is safe to say that Ande's call in life is to care for people by day, and horses by night.

She turned her own farm, 85 acres in Valley Center, Kansas, into a horse rescue facility and Hope In The Valley was born.

Once asked, "How do you do this, doesn't it rip your heart out to see these horses like this?" She replied, "You just have to love them for the short time they are here and remember that you are doing them a favor and not allowing them to suffer any longer. It is hard and I cry for each one of them."

Ande has been blessed with 12 other people who have come together to form the board of directors, each from a different walk of life, to become a part of her passion and assist her in caring for these wonderful equine companions. She says she could not do it without each and every one of them. And we could not do it without her.

Carla Farrell

Carla's profession was timekeeping and processing of payroll before she retired, so it was natural for her to extend that skill to the rescue for many years. Carla, Ande's sister, has been involved with Hope from it's inception. Although she is admittedly not as comfortable around horses as her sister is, Carla is invaluable to the rescue with her knowledge of how the rescue and it's finances work. She recently retired as our financial manager handing that duty to Paris, her daughter, and now assists Paris in keeping financial aspect of this non-profit organization up-to-date.

Let us also thank Carla's husband Denny who has spent countless hours and strength working to give us a better facility. Denny has helped us build fences, repair sheds, and built our training area together with Ray Oller.

Dawn Gresham

Dawn is from Hutchinson, Kansas. She has been working with horses all her life. Her first horse ride was at 9 months old on a crazy mare named Beauty. She initially volunteered to feed on the weekends, and it soon grew into much more. She is now one of our volunteer coordinators, gives the horses their annual shots, assesses their need for hoof and teeth care, helps us feed, coordinates horse history records, helps usher in new arrivals, and much much more. In addition to her help with the rescue, she works full-time as an educational consultant, specializing in intellectual disabilities, alternative assessment and physical disabilities for an educational cooperative. She is also affiliate faculty, teaching at the graduate level for a Kansas college.

Thanks also to Dawn's husband Larry, who, with Ray and Denny, has spent many hours and much strength working to improve our physical facility, help us set up for off-site events, repair farm implements, and the list goes on...

Jennifer Holman

Jennifer started volunteering for Hope In The Valley with her kids in September 2011 so they could all learn how much care and work goes into owning a horse. Jennifer grew up in Coffeyville, KS where her Uncle Doug nurtured her love for horses. He would take her to the stables every day after school (as long as her homework and chores were done). She got to clean stalls and groom horses. For a reward she would get to ride. She is driven to help the rescue because she has seen the horses come in with empty eyes, pain, mistrust, fear and so much more. Then she has seen life come back into the eyes of those same horses. Says Jennifer, "When they're healthy and trust a human, that's when you really get to see a horse's personality. Every horse should know love and be cared for."

Paris McGinn

Paris is Ande's neice and has been on the board since the rescue started in 2005. She has been instrumental in building forms and log sheets for the rescue. Paris is also our Treasurer, keeping all finances up-to-date, recording all donations and managing PayPal.

In addition, Paris is invaluable as our Facebook administrator. It is she who keeps our page up-to-date with fun facts, information and upcoming events on a daily basis.

Paris is married with two very busy boys, Lane and Caden. She works as a full-time mom as well as performing rescue work on the side. Paris resides in Sedgwick, Ks.

Dixie Oller

Dixie also works in the medical profession. Born in Oklahoma, she's been a Kansas resident most of her life. She was raised with horses and they have "always been a big part of [her] heart."

Married for 32 years [2011] to Ray, with two daughters, great sons-in-law and four grandchildren, she is now enjoying life with her family, horses, and new friends. She says, "My dreams are all coming true."

Dixie spends countless hours at the rescue coordinating volunteers, working with horses and assisting Ande in rescue efforts. Her husband Ray is equally as irreplaceable — transporting horses to various fundraising activities and doing extensive carpentry, fencing and repair work around the rescue. Where Dixie is, there is Ray, right by her side.

Mary Lou Rivers

Originally from Wichita/Valley Center area, the City of Wichita has much reason to thank Mary Lou. She worked with the Parks Department to develop Botanica, and also spearheaded the development of the Delano district. A retired local business owner, Mary Lou has been a board member since 2008 and puts her efforts to good work helping spearhead the rescue. She performs many valuable services, and perhaps the two most valuable are taking board meeting minutes and spending time with Tiny. Those two are inseparable.

Marcia Thompson

Marcia, a registered nurse, worked along side Ande for many years. She grew up in Indiana and has lived all over including Madrid, Spain. We are blessed that she has landed in Derby, Kansas.