Chesapeake woman honors late father, serves Hampton Roads veterans with ‘Trails of Purpose’

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Kayla Arestivo's father was one of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Eighteen years later, Arestivo is honoring her late father's legacy by providing a sense of community to Hampton Roads veterans.

Arestivo is working to create a homestead for veterans and their families in Virginia Beach through "Trails of Purpose," a program that partners veterans struggling with PTSD, trauma and transition stress with horses through equine therapy.

Related: Veteran battling suicidal thoughts opens horse ranch to help military families

"We operate free of cost to any veteran that walks in," Arestivo said. "We believe in community, we believe in rekindling passion in lives of American veterans. We walk alongside our veterans, and we partner with horses on the road to healing."

Serving veterans and Gold Star families is Arestivo's dream -- and a love letter to her father, William Lawrence Fallon, Jr., who called home one last time as the North Tower burned to tell his family he loved them before jumping into action to help others.

In his honor, Arestivo is working to build a 30-acre ranch to help veterans and their families find community -- just like her father, the designated fire safety captain for the 103rd floor, helped so many others find their way out of the North Tower.

"It's about taking somebody who came in who feels like they're walled off, they're on their own and they're isolated, and it takes three hours and some horses and some good food to make them feel like, 'Wait, maybe there is a community out here who gets me,'" Arestivo said.

She launched Trails of Purpose's first-ever Capital Campaign, a fundraiser, to raise $1.5 million over the next 12 months to help make her dream a reality.

To learn more about Trails of Purpose or donate to the Capital Campaign, click here.

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