Initially, KCTV5's Brad Stephen hesitated back in January when it was suggested he should do a story about an old donkey in Grandview but, as it turns out, the story on Ebenezer the donkey has been one of the most-viewed on KCTV5.com so far this year.
Although Ebenezer died several months ago, incredibly, he lives on.
In his last few years, Ebenezer lived a very comfortable life surrounded by people who cared for him deeply - people like Shirley Phillips.
"I miss that fuzzy face," Phillips said.
Phillips and a host of others began taking care of Ebenezer after the donkey's owners suffered health problems of their own. They fed him, gave him veterinarian care and they even provided electricity to his barn so he could stay warm in the winter.
In a stroke of marketing genius, they sold Ebenezer calendars and created an Ebenezer website. All the money they raised went to care for the donkey.
Then one day, Ebenezer just fell down.
"He never recovered from that fall. He was in a lot of pain. We tried barn rest for a week - in the end he just sort of said, ‘I'm done,'" Phillips said. "It was hard."
With their beloved friend gone, the people who supported Ebenezer wanted to honor his memory so they created a new calendar for 2013.
"Realistically at the end of the day, it's the last real hurrah for Ebenezer. It's a memorial for everybody to say 'Bye. We're going to look at you physically for one more year on the wall and for the rest of our lives we'll have the memory of you floating in our brains,'" Joe Domino said.
But it's much more than just memories for these guys.
"So far, last year's money that was left over has gone to four donkey rescue groups: two in Michigan, one in Colorado, one in Texas," Phillips said.
So far they've donated $5,000 to those rescue ranches, all in Ebenezer's name. The money is important as the drought is tough on donkeys too. Rescue groups said more and more donkeys are being abandoned as the cost of feeding them continues to rise.
With the new Ebenezer calendars already on sale, Phillips and the others will be sending all the proceeds to help other donkeys who need help, just their like their old friend once needed.
"You're supposed to be kind to animals. Protect them, help them," Phillips said. "I just love donkeys. I think they're the coolest things on the planet."
The cost is $20 and it can be purchased at May Milling Co. at 606 Main St., Grandview, MO. Phillips said the calendars can be shipped priority mail to purchasers at an extra cost of $5.95 for shipping. Anybody can email firstname.lastname@example.org with their PayPal email address and she can invoice them and ship the calendars. You also can click here.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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