Andra Ebert: 2017 Illinois Mother of the Year with a Big Heart for Mini Horses 5


The best part of American Mothers, Inc. is the mothers that we honor each year. Mothers are a powerful force for good in our homes and in our communities. We believe that exemplary mothers deserve recognition and honor in our society. We want you to meet Meet Andra Ebert: 2017 Illinois Mother of the Year.
As we’ve gotten to know Andra this past year we can testify that she is indeed an inspiration. She keeps our Facebook page full of upbeat, encouraging reminders, and she radiates love. We will start by telling you all about the work she does in her community. But, her greatest life work is the work that she has done within the walls of her own home.
Andra’s daughter has written a touching letter to us about what makes her mom the Mother of the Year. Dear Andra, thank you for all you do and for who you are. We love you. We honor you. We pray that you continue to defy all medical odds!  Thank you for seeing, caring, and serving!!
She lives in the rural farming town of Taylorville, IL where Andra and her husband farm corn and soybeans on their generational farm of 146 years.  As a mother of two and grandmother of three, her life is filled with many activities that revolve around family, including a lot of sports, ballet, and community.
About 3 1/2 years ago Andra began a new Non-Profit Organization named Heartland Mini Hoofs. Heartland Mini Hoofs is dedicated to bringing happiness, healing, rehabilitation, and comfort to others through equine-assisted therapy and activities using miniature horses.  Ambassadors of Happiness help to encourage interactions, range of motion, decrease stress and provide an outlet for emotions, as well as bringing amazing laughter and smiles to all they meet.  In 2017 they made 160 visits to nursing homes, Alzheimer’s units, hospitals, senior communities, and schools.  Their little horse trailer traveled 11,840 miles on the roads of Central Illinois.
On their website, we read, “Heartland Mini Hoofs is a special type of animal-assisted program that serves the needs of many Central Illinois residents.  We love to meet new friends at Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, Alzheimer’s Units, Schools and other wonderful places.  Our handlers bring two or three miniature horses to visits personally with each resident, including bed bound residents, students and other community members.  Typically a visit last an hour or more.  Everyone is encouraged to actively engage with us, pet us, and most importantly love on us!”

The Just Say Whoa® to Bullying program takes a unique approach to teaching bullying prevention by helping children to recognize and respect the differences in one another.

Bailey, Jasper and Winnie are American Miniature Horses that provide therapy to various groups of people.  Each of these horses have their very own personality and strengths.

Winnie, the baby, is truly the most spoiled of the three.  She seems to be able to “get away” with more than the other two.

Jasper, the old man of the group, is a true statesman.  Dependable and good looking.

Bailey, the leader of the pack, is the true Alpha mare.  While at home she can be a handful, but on a visit she is perfection.

Andra Ebert said, “Why do I do what I do?  I was raised by parents who believed that service to others was something that all of us should offer.  Volunteering seems to be in my blood, I love the feeling of making someone feel better or smile.  I truly believe that one gesture, smile, or compliment can make a huge difference in someone’s day.  Hopefully, my grandkids are learning by my example so that the “Golden Rule”  will continue to the next generation.”

Andra’s daughter wrote to tell us about her inspiring, miraculous mother.

My mother, Andra Ebert, is the 2017 Illinois Mother of the Year. As her daughter, I would like to tell you a little bit about her. Somehow, when life throws a curveball her way, she catches it and throws it right back at life. When she was a child, she contracted a massive infection from the use of an unsterile implement during a routine procedure the infection cost my mother her bladder and most of her kidney function, and she spent years living at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. The doctors told her parents it would be a miracle if she lived to be 16, but she has stubbornly, and luckily, stuck around into her late 50’s now. I believe this act was the first time she willfully defied life and destiny, she told them she had her own plans and she needed to stick around a good while longer.
Due to her medical conditions, she was unable to biologically have her own children, but once again, she found a way. She adopted my older brother and I from situations where we were either unwanted or unable to be cared for and gave us a home. She worked in the medical field as I grew up, she was both a registered nurse and a social worker (her Master’s degree is in gerontology). Despite being a working mother, she always found a way to participate in my brother and I’s extracurricular activities. I don’t mean she just showed up to the games and recitals, I mean she became a member of Red Bland Little League, she led the 4-H chapter meetings. When we reached Jr. High School she stepped back from the hospital and she became a substitute teacher so she could be there for us even more.
As my brother and I reached High School typical teenage rebellion set in. My brother and I both suffered from our own mental health challenges which manifested very different but equally difficult to deal with. My mother and father saw both of us through them and even sacrificed their retirement funds to make sure we got the treatments we needed. My mom kept my family together throughout these struggles, she kept up with her jobs and was still there for us. Because of her, I am alive today and finishing my bachelor’s degree while holding down a steady job. Those are both things one doctor said I would never be functional enough to do, so I guess I inherited my defiance of life circumstances from her.
 
Nowadays, my mother is a grandmother to two grandsons and two granddaughters and she keeps up with them just as much as she kept up with my brother and I. When life goes sideways she’s always there to help either of us set it right again. She makes sure everybody gets to where they need to be on time and she still keeps herself on time as well.
She also runs a 501c3 miniature horse therapy program called Heartland Mini Hoofs. She visits nursing homes, schools, and hospitals to bring a little bit of happiness to places that might lack them from time to time. She is one of the most amazing and selfless people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and I am deeply honored every day that she chose me to be her daughter.
Throughout my life, she has been the glue that holds everything in my life together. (I secretly believe she simply does not sleep inorder to accomplish this feat.) When she’s not busy holding it together, she helps me get it moving again if I get stuck. My mom, Andra Ebert, does not go with the flow. She’s the one that makes the flow go.

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