Saddles in Service Love For Hero Gala Raises $225,000 to Support their Heroes and Horses

by Cheryl Erpelding

Saddles in Service, which is a non-profit that helps veterans, active duty military and first responders struggling with PTSD, anxiety, depression, job related stress and traumatic brain injuries, held it’s annual Love For Heroes Gala at Viejas Casino and Resort November 4, 2022. The event was a tremendous success with 350 supporters dressing up in fancy boots and dressy cowboy attire, to share in a fun evening of dining, dancing, and live auction bidding from TV Celebrity Sean Kelly of Storage Hunters. Guests bid on several amazing experiences such as a dog sled ride for two and four days at the Big Sky, MT, resort donated by Glenda O’Grady, and another amazing prize of three mounted shooting lessons with World Champion mounted shooter Kenny Lawson of Valley Center, CA. Plus fabulous silent auction items were up for bid such as a dressage lesson with Olympic rider Steffen Peters, and many more wonderful gifts that were donated to the successful fundraiser. Many guests generously reached deep into their pockets to help this growing foundation continue its work of helping heroes connect with horses to help them heal.

Heroes come to learn horsemanship and riding at the San Diego, CA and Elkhart, TX locations. Many fall in love with this free program and gone on to become excellent horsemen and women. Some heroes are selected for the ultimate goal of experiencing a week long trip to ride with Tom Bercher, veteran and general manager of the Saddles in Service, WY location. Many of these riders come back from this amazing experience of riding in the open country, moving cattle with Tom with a renewed hope and memories to last a lifetime. One such hero was so appreciative of the program, he donated $1,500 so the next hero could go on this healing trip of a lifetime.

This active duty rider enjoys a fun day in Alpine, CA with Smokey who is wonderful teacher.

Started in 2017, CEO Tammy Oluvic and her husband retired Navy Captain Mike Oluvic’s Saddles in Service foundation has helped 750 plus heroes, deliver over 6,000 program sessions and the adoption of 29 healing horses at their ranch in Alpine, CA.

Tammy and MIke wish to thank the Gala sponsors: Lovey To My Tummy, Viejas Tribal Council, BW Industrial Sales, San Diego Horse Trail Riding, Silver Dollar Ranch / Kenny Lawson, Chula Vista Police Officers Assoc., Rick King / Caliber Loans, The Clark Ranch, Fire and Rein Farms, Riding Media, CSJ Equipment, The Business Cleaning Company, Motorola Solutions, Wishing Creek Farms, Spec 9, DLA Piper, Lisa Lightfoot, Institute of Health, and Chris Carder Henning.

This hero is working on learning how to work cattle and is one of the heroes that got selected to ride in WY.

Saddles in Service is always looking for supporters and volunteers to help this amazing organization that helps so many. Teaching the heroes is the number one volunteer position that is mainly needed. It is very rewarding to help these heroes learn how magical horses are and helpful to many that need their healing powers.

This important video played at the Gala tells the stories of how many of the heroes have been impacted with Saddles in Service of program. Check it out at this link: https://vimeo.com/764702855 – to learn more please visit www.SaddlesInService.org. The next big fundraiser is the Holes for Heroes Golf Tournament presented by BW Industrial Sales May 12, 2023 at Singing Hills Golf Resort in El Cajon, CA.

Hero riding at the Elkhart, TX location headed up by Donna Sinema, general manager of the Texas Saddles Service location.