Meet the irrepressible Ames

Amy Eidenberger has Down syndrome. She also has the loving siblings she lives with, a job at the family business in Port Washington and a multitude of friends who can’t resist her winning spirit

Amy Eidenberger (second from left), who has Down syndrome, spends two weeks at a time living with each of her siblings, (from left) Margaret Eidenberger-Hopkins, John and Mike. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Their sister’s 50th birthday was coming up, and her three siblings wanted to do it up right.

Mike and John Eidenberger and Margaret Eidenberger-Hopkins spent months planning the surprise bash.

It wasn’t going to be easy, for this wasn’t just any sister. Amy Eidenberger is basically a celebrity in the Port Washington area. That meant more than 200 people had to keep quiet.

“It’s funny,” Margaret said. “I will go into a store and she’s with me. ‘Hi, Ames.’ I don’t even know the people.”

Amy, often known as “Ames,” is an icon at the family business, Port Yamaha, and a regular at Grand Avenue Saloon next door.

Amy’s influence, however, goes well beyond Port Washington. Mike regularly posts videos and photos of Amy on his Facebook page, which, through sharing, have received tens of thousands of views across the world.

“Everyone comes in here and says whenever I’m having a bad day, I’ll watch an Ames video and feel better,” he said.

Amy has Down syndrome and has been living with each of her older siblings in two-week rotations for more than a decade, since her parents passed away. She works at the family’s shop doing what she calls “landscaping” on her own terms.

“Every job she does here is a job she chose herself. These are all things she thinks need to be done,” Mike said. “If we tell her not to do them, she gets mad.”

Inside the shop, Amy cleans and dusts and loves to sign for deliveries. Outside, she picks up garbage and leaves and shovels snow in and around the lot full of four-wheelers, “even when it’s cold outside,” she said.

Her motivation is simple.

“If you do your jobs, you get paid for it,” she said.

Some of her money helps ensure that her inventory doesn’t get too low in her “snacklebox,” a tackle box in which Amy stores chips, cookies and other snacks.

“People stop by once in a while and drop off treats,” John said, “and she’s not afraid to go walking and shopping for it.”

Amy loves her non-family co-workers and often shares items from her box with them and sometimes customers. When her siblings ask for a treat, she sometimes obliges and sometimes provides an annoyed expression as if to say, “You too?”

Amy can walk from Mike and John’s places, but needs a ride from Margaret’s house in the Town of Grafton. She usually sleeps in and arrives around lunchtime.

“She’s not concerned with arrival time. She’s concerned with departure,” Mike said.

Amy’s rotation among her siblings provides a different slice of life every few weeks. Margaret has a husband, children and pets, while Mike and John are single.

At Margaret’s, Amy gets more home-cooked meals in a family atmosphere. She helps with dishes, gardening and dusting, makes her bed, folds laundry and helps with Margaret’s son with disabilities.

She does cardio on the family’s fitness equipment and gets to ride a four-wheeler.

Mike and John provide more of the single life, which means going out to dinner more often and the YMCA. John takes Amy trapshooting, at which her job is to hold the paper that logs his score.

“It’s awesome. Amy’s good company,” John said of having a roommate every few weeks.

Her family has witnessed an increased acceptance of people with Down syndrome in Amy’s lifetime.

Amy, Mike said, is “just another person. She’s just genuine. She’s not fake. She calls it like it is.”

Amy is a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan like her mother Grace was and can be stubborn. She loves doing art projects, going to motorcycle races and riding on the backs of snowmobiles and motorcycles.

“She’s got no fear when it comes to that stuff,” Mike said.

Amy has memorized all the birthdays of those close to her, forgives or forgets instantly, offers unconditional love, has a good sense of humor and a large amount of patience. She loves to travel and has been to Japan, Los Angeles and New York City.

“They’ve gone from being the kids you don’t want to hang out with to the kids you do want to hang out with,” Mike said.

That includes the 200-plus people who were coming to her party at the Country Inn and Suites in Port on Friday, Nov. 30.

It was John’s job to get Amy to the party. The family usually gets together for birthdays, but this time it was just John, his daughter and Amy. Mike and Margaret said they had to work.

“She was a bummed,” Margaret said.

John stopped at NewPort Shores that afternoon and said they’d be coming for a fish fry. Within two hours, the place was decorated, and everyone sang happy birthday.

Then it was on to Grand Avenue for a drink. John said they would go bar hopping, starting at the north end of town and then work their way back.

They next went to the hotel and were greeted by a massive party, complete with decorations, presents, a cake that looked just like Amy’s black and yellow snacklebox and her favorite band, Bella Cain.

“She walked in the place and she was overwhelmed. She couldn’t move,” Margaret said.

They pulled it off.

“I was actually surprised,” Amy said.

Her favorite part was the band. They let her play drums and tambourine.

The party lasted until nearly midnight.

“I felt a lot of love in that room for her,” Margaret said.

Much of it went home with the family. It took five hours to open presents that weekend, with just a 15-minute break to eat.

Mike had put a request on Facebook to send Amy cards, and she received more than 200, including one from Australia.

“It’s a blessing,” John said.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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