Rick was born and raised in Owensboro. He graduated from Catholic in 2001 and then attended WKU, where he met his wife, Dana. He is currently the General Manager of Weed Man of Western Kentucky. In his free time, he has started playing golf again and loves getting his kids—Sydney (13), Addyson (8), Parker (6), and Paul (4)—involved in the game. The Ebelhars love to spend time at the pool in the summer as well as the beach in Destin.
Tell us about your kids.
Paul is the baby and is spoiled rotten. He loves to entertain and be the center of attention! We don’t know that we have ever seen a kid love life more than Paul. Parker is much more shy and reserved, however has a servants heart. We have seen him literally give his sister the shirt off his back when she spilled something on hers. He loves any and all sports and already loves to go to work with me. Addyson is a born leader and is clearly the boss around the house. She is creative and organized, and analyzes absolutely everything. Sydney is our animal loving child — she loves animals of all types, but most specifically baby animals. She loves to read animal books and watch animal movies! She is the best big sister and watches out for the three little ones like they are her own. Early on, we weren’t sure how she would handle having siblings, as she was an only child for almost 5 years and she is VERY protective of us and our attention. But she has grown to be super protective of her little brothers and sister. On the flip side, they have learned and adapted to Sydney’s ever changing schedule and needs and have really grown to understand (as well as young children can) at a very young age that sometimes we have to do things for her that we may not have to ever do with them. They understand that she has Down syndrome and that she is capable of doing everything they do, it may just take her a little bit longer to do it. As they have gotten older, it has been awesome to watch, especially Addyson, take up for Sydney is social situations with other kids that may not know how to deal with kids with special needs. To watch her teach other kids about her sister and kids like Sydney is amazing. Parker is beginning to learn as well, and we can’t wait to see all the people they will teach and educate about people with Down syndrome as well as other special needs.
What is it like raising a daughter with special needs?
Raising a child with special needs is really not that different than raising any other child, other than the mountains of paperwork that go along with doctor appointments, therapies and of course the beloved IEP meetings! Raising kids is most likely the hardest job any of us will ever have, so adding in a few special needs just adds another piece to the complex puzzle that is parenting. All kids are different, they all have different interests, different personalities and different mannerisms. Some kids just have “atypical” behaviors and needs that require extra attention. Parenting is the most rewarding thing we have and will ever do. Our goal is to help our kids, Sydney included, find their passion in life and be productive members of society.
What kind of relationship do your other kids have with her?
All of our kids have their own unique relationship with Sydney. Addyson has developed into her social protector in public, but behind closed doors they fight like any two pre-teen girls would. Parker and Sydney butt heads quite a bit, but he is always the first to help her with anything she needs or struggles with. Sydney loves to baby Paul and treat him like “her baby.” He absolutely loves this as she relishes the role of being his “babysitter.”
What do you want others to know about her?
Anyone that knows Sydney very well knows that she is extremely intelligent and manipulative! She knows how to test people to see how much she can get them to do for her before they realize she can do those things on her own. She would just rather someone else do them for her. Sydney knows she has Down syndrome and she knows that God made her that way. She knows that some people think that makes her different, but we do not allow her to think she was made anything shy of perfect in the image and likeness of God.
What is one piece of parenting advice you would offer to other parents?
There is no such thing as a perfect parent or perfect child. It is very easy as parents to get wrapped up in making sure our children have the best of the best, when in reality all the kids really want is our time and our undivided attention. Things that seem insignificant to us, could mean the world to one of our kids in their stage of life.