By Joe Dimino
JCA Contributing Writer
Grandview’s famous donkey, Ebenezer, is finally back home.
Just shy of 12 weeks, Ebenezer fully recovered from a list of ailments at Equine Health Solutions in Raymore, Missouri. Over the harsh Kansas City winter, the 30+-year old donkey was suffering from white line disease in all four of his hooves, his gums were badly diseased to the point here he couldn’t eat hard foods and his lung was filling with fluid. Overall, the prognosis for survival and rehabilitation was bleak, at best.
"I had almost given up. He was in such bad shape,” said Ebenezer’s owner Ben Alvarado, an 85-year old local WWII veteran. “I just didn't know what to do."
The Jackson County Advocate ran the first article about Ebenezer’s condition, which was followed up by a host of Kansas City media outlets. Within days, the Kansas City metro exhibited a grand dose of Midwestern hospitality and grace by donating over $10,000 to get Ebenezer back on his feet.
“The outpouring of help and well wishes from the people of greater Kansas City and even from around the country was overwhelming,” noted Shirley Phillips, friend and caregiver to Ebenezer over his weeks of rehabilitation. “The cards and letters that people sent with their donations were so touching.”
Over the months of rehabilitation, Ebenezer had a Facebook page to chart his progress and amassed a host of new cyber friends. In addition, a dedicated web portal at www.ebenezerthedonkey.com was created to celebrate the life of an animal that has lifted the spirits of many folks over the years.
As the 83 days of healing went on, he gradually began gaining back his strength and health.
“Watching how Ebenezer treats all the people he meets has taught me that the human race needs to be more like him,” Phillips said. “He just simply accepts everybody for who they are.”
On a perfect spring day in late April, Ebenezer emerged anew from a trailer to grace the field he has called home for over three decades just off Main street in Grandview. As he trotted towards his new shed with a concrete floor adorned with signage and his own street sign, he began to amble with his new hooves away from the throng of friends and media that greeted him.
"It's so good to have him back home,” Alvarado said with a smile while watching Ebenezer wander close by. "It's great how everyone helped. I have never seen anything like it before."
Ben and his wife Victoria were inspired to have a donkey in their lives after a trip to Israel in 1967, where they saw children joyfully playing with a donkey. When they returned home to South Kansas City, they purchased two-year old Ebenezer.
“I decided to name him Ebenezer because it means that God has brought us this far,” Ben said. “I think about how Ebenezer has brought us this far.”
As the police escort and friends started to walk away from Ebenezer’s field, the donkey began to settle into his life while cars slowed to see that he was back in his rightful home.
“He has truly touched many people over the years and just keeps on bringing people together,” Phillps said. “Maybe that's why God put him here - to teach us all to be more tolerant and friendly towards each other.”
Hallelujah. Ebenezer is home.
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Ebenezer is still unable to eat foods he used to. Folks can still visit him, but please give him apples and pears that are peeled and cut into small squares. If you want to feed him carrots, they should be grated.