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(whether they have 2 legs or 4)

I am writing today with a heart that is full of admiration and love for one who helped build the foundation of Return to Freedom, one whose grace, courage, and leadership renews my appreciation for those majestic stallions that are the patriarchs of their herd. I am writing from the heart of a daughter who stands in awe of her father. 

Bill DeMayoBill DeMayo is my father and the patriarch of our family. Much like the rugged stallions who guide their herds to food, shelter and safety, my father is a self-made man who fought to provide his family with everything we needed to be happy & healthy, enriched and whole.

He was there at the beginning of this dream and helped me build Return to Freedom from the ground up.

Today, at 92 years of age, my father lives to see his daughter’s dream realized and is an active participant in it. And one day when he leaves this earth, it will be with those who he cherishes most at his side. His life has been about his family. Every step, every choice, every hard won battle was propelled by the love he carries for my mother, my sister, and myself.

Why am I telling you this, other than to pay tribute to an honorable man? Because as I look out across the hillsides at some of our aging patriarchs, I am struck by stallions like Amante and the irreplaceable gift you have helped us give them — the gift of a life that will always be lived with their family.

So many wild horse families are ripped apart during the roundups. Stallions fight — some to the death — in an attempt to liberate and protect their families. But for all of their valiant efforts, they are no match for the traps and fences that are built to separate them from their mares. Everything they were born to do and spent their lives doing with every breath is taken from them in a single, brutal instant.

But not here. And not with you on our side. Return to Freedom provides a safe haven where these proud stallions are able to fulfill their role as teacher and protector, where they will never have that which is most sacred to them stolen, and where they can pass from this earth having lived the life that nature intended for these incredible animals.

—Neda DeMayo

This Father’s Day, please consider making a donation to help us continue to provide a safe haven for stallions and their bands. You can even make your donation a gift for Dad and we’ll send him a card letting him know that a gift was given in his honor.

Photo above: The stallion Amante plays with his young son, teaching him the behaviors and skills he will need to become leader of his own herd some day.