Trails4Transplants is a long-distance, multiple week long trail ride to raise awareness about organ, eye, and tissue donation. Our goal is to help alleviate major health issues by simply raising awareness for the immense need of organ, eye, and tissue donation and promote donor registration. Secondly, we raise funds to promote awareness, support donor families and help those who have received the precious gift of life.
How We Started
The idea of a long-distance horse ride rolled inside the heads of T4T co-founders and avid horsemen, Roger Hille and Ashley Peterson, for
years. And for Roger, well, many years! Hille, a resident of Warren, MN spends most of his summers at his ranch by St. Anthony, ND. Hille had the long-time goal of riding someday from Warren, MN to the ranch before he completely retires and moves west.
In Sept of 2012, a group of family friends set out to ride the hills of Hille’s Windmill Ranch. The crew stopped halfway of the 6 hour pickup drive at a café in Casselton, ND. Hille, knowing Peterson’s love for challenge and adventure, brought up the idea of riding 300+ miles west from Warren to St. Anthony, ND. Peterson was immediately all in. However, the two decided they needed a much bigger and noble reason to ride that far. They pondered the idea of doing it for a cause. Peterson had recently signed to be a volunteer for LifeSource and suggested to ride for organ and tissue donation awareness.
Peterson and Hille had one other commonality other than horses; the true appreciation and passion for organ, eye, and tissue donation. Both lives were touched; Hille’s son-in-law is a grateful liver recipient who gave Hille his precious grandchildren and Peterson’s brother was a generous organ donor who saved four lives and the donation option helped her family through such a traumatic loss.
Two months after the friends had their trip out to Hille’s ranch, plans began to form. They needed a name for the journey they would embark on. “Ride4Life” was the first proposed name, however, after much confusion by onlookers whether it was a motorcycle ride or a horse ride, the two changed the name. “Trails4Transplants” was officially named and formed November of 2012. T4T later became the official “brand” of the organization.
The first 300+ mile, 14 day ride was scheduled for June, 2013. The amount of support and enthusiasm from other horsemen, businesses, and communities was surprisingly overwhelming. Even in the primitive planning stages that year, people were already committed to riding and volunteering to make the journey a success. And what a success it was the first year! In fact, it was epic. It was the intentions of the co-founders to do a ride like this only one year, but the astronomical amount of interest, support, and excitement from riders and supporters spurred Trails4Transplants to continue yearly.
The future of T4T is to continue to ride across North Dakota, through parts of Montana, circle down and across South Dakota, ride across Minnesota and end up in Rochester at Gift of Life Transplant House, where a portion of the T4T proceeds have gone to benefit transplant recipients. The goal is to make a 2000-mile total journey over a six year time span (2013-2018).
Trails4Transplants has become a group of individuals that are compassionate about saving and enhancing lives through the generous gift of organ and tissue donation. Come join us!