Friends for Therapeutic Equine Activities was founded in July 1996. A similar program was dissolving, and two instructors and a volunteer felt there was a continuing need for this type of valuable service. An attorney provided legal services pro bono, a plan of action was developed, and FTEA was established. A Board of Directors was formed, and by July 18, 1996 the application for a not-for-profit status, 501(c) (3), was filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
Several private contributors enabled FTEA to purchase eight horses from the dissolving program, along with the necessary equipment. After an extensive search, a program site was located in September 1996 at Kingsway Farm in Winfield. Kingsway Farm provided FTEA with an office/tack room, and the use of both indoor and outdoor arenas at designated times.
On September 24, 1996 the first Fall Session of FTEA’s riding program for people with disabilities began with 52 participants, two instructors and 20 volunteers. FTEA has continued to grow and develop a base of support in the community since that time, and now has five instructors, 80-90 volunteers and 10 horses.
A scholarship program began in 2009 to allow individuals requiring financial assistance to participate in FTEA programs. In 2012, this fund was renamed the Ron and Patti Mehling Scholarship Program in honor of the scholarship founders.
The need for additional horses and equipment is a continual challenge. FTEA seeks the support of corporations and individuals in serving children and adults with special needs in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties. All donations, large and small, are greatly appreciated!