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-Founder and President

Ande 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, 80 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 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.

Dixie Oller-Vice President

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 40 years [2019] to Ray, with two daughters, great sons-in-law and six 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 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.

Dixie also serves as our Equine Management Coordinator. She works with intake, medical care, and adoption (including follow-up) of the horses. If you would like to serve in this capacity, please see Dixie!

Dawn Gresham-Secretary

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 board members, 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, is our webmaster, social media specialist and works with media.

In addition to her help with the rescue, she works full-time as an assistant director of special services in a local 6A school district. She is also affiliate faculty, teaching at the graduate level for a Kansas college. Dawn holds multiple graduate degrees in the area of education. She is currently working on her Ed.D. with a concentration on school district administration.

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...

Paris McGinn-Co-Treasurer

Paris is Ande's niece and board treasurer. She has been on the board since the rescue started in 2005. She has been instrumental in building forms and log sheets for the rescue as well as helping with our merchandising. She keeping all finances up-to-date, recording all donations and managing PayPal.

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

Lindsay Smith-Co-Treasurer

Lindsay is the current CFO and VP of Finance for Rainbows United-Wichita. She is a former CFO of the Kansas Humane Society for nine and a half years. She was also the CEO of the Susan G. Komen Foundation Kansas Chapter for three and a half years. Lindsay brings a wealth of financial knowledge to the organization.

Joyce Corp-Resource Coordinator

I was raised on a farm in Republic County, Kansas. We raised cattle, hogs and chickens, as well as crops. We had dogs, cats and there was always a horse or 2 on the farm. I think I knew how to ride a horse before I knew how to walk! We were taught that our animals were taken care of before we went anywhere, including school. All through my school years, my horse was my best friend. He would listen to my every complaint and not judge me! I lived in Salina, Kansas, from 1980, to 2013. Through circumstances, I had the opportunity to learn to train, and did train service dogs during those years. I moved to Valley Center in April of 2013, and worked for Sedgwick County as an Administrative Assistant. I became a volunteer at Hope in the Valley equine rescue in 2014. I retired July 21, 2017. My love for animals, especially horses, has never diminished. I am privileged to be a part of Hope in the Valley Equine Rescue.

Joyce is the Resource Coordinator for the rescue. She oversees our volunteer, programs and events committees. If planning and execution of events is your thing, please contact Joyce!

Kelly Benton-Development Coordinator

Kelly is a local real estate agent who comes to us with a lot of experience in animal rescue. She has volunteered for the Kansas Humane Society for nearly 25 years and worked for the Sedgwick County Zoo. She has also served as the State Coordinator for the Kansas State Animal Response Team since 2011.

Kelly is a WSU graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration. She has volunteered and worked for area non-profits for nearly 30 years, including the Kansas Humane Society, the Sedgwick County Zoo and the Kansas State Animal Response Team. She recently began volunteering with Hope in the Valley and is thankful horses have again become a part of her life. She has many years of fundraising, event planning and project management experience to share with Hope. Kelly and her husband, Rob Benton, have been married 30 years. They enjoy working together on projects at Hope and loving on the horses.

Kelly is the Development Coordinator. She oversees the marketing, communications and fundraising for the rescue. If you have talents in any of these areas and would like to serve in a leadership capacity, Kelly would be your contact!

Our Committee Members

The board members of HITVERAS, in order to be more efficient and effective, have established committee groups focusing on different aspects of rescuing. Meet those chairpersons, below. If you would like to become a member of any or all of these committees, please contact us (look for email on our 'contact us' page), and we will get you in contact with the committee chairperson(s).

Volunteer Committee

Hi, my name is Ann Muehling and grew up in a small town in Iowa. My love for horses goes back to my early childhood. When I was three years old I was the flower girl in my cousins wedding, but I absolutely refused to walk down the aisle. My parents and relatives tried everything they could think of to encourage me to do my job, but nothing worked. Finally, a family friend said that I could ride a horse if I agreed to be a nice flower girl. Of course, I immediately agreed!

Then when I was about eight years old, my father bought me a one eyed POA (Pony of America). While I did occasionally ride Snowy, my main interest was caring for her and that passion is still with me today.

In 2018 my New Year’s resolution was to give back, so I showed up at Hope In The Valley’s orientation with a goal of coming out once a month. Well, I quickly fell in love with the horses and am now one of Hope’s Volunteer Coordinators.

When I am not at HITVERAS, I work in the mortgage industry as well as spend time with my wonderful kids and husband. My number is 612-708-3281 if you would like to contact me regarding VOLUNTEERING (only) at the rescue.

Adoption Support-Rob Benton and Shari Pike

Rob works with Dixie to do our pre-approval and follow up with adopters to ensure our equines are living their best life. Shari, his side kick, helps with home inspections.

Event Committee

Shari Pike is our event chairperson. She will be in charge of the 'social committee' at the rescue. Her team will plan and execute events both on the rescue property as well as in the community. Her husband, Jeff, helps with horse training and they both assist us with daily chores. If you would like to participate in the events committee, please contact Shari!

Maintenance and Hay

Ray Oller and Denny Farrell are the co-chairs of our maintenance and hay committee. Ray is the husband of Dixie and Denny is Ande's brother-in-law, married to Carla, our former treasurer. Their crew includes Larry, husband of Dawn, Jeff, husband of Shari and Rob, husband of Kelly If you like to build, do yard work, install and do all things outdoors, let one of these guys know! More than a dozen bales of hay must be moved weekly along with tons of grain, keeping fence lines up and running and keeping the property in an esthetically pleasing manner. If this is for you, the guys can hook you up!

Merchandising

Aubrie Miller is the chairperson for our merchandise. She is Ande's oldest daughter and mother to Rylie. She has helped design and create our shirts, hats, window clings, and koozies. She works with the screen printers and seamstresses in getting any special orders in quickly. If you would like any of our merchandise, please let Aubrie know!