Geoff Rhyne

Geoff Rhyne, Ella’s father, is a hospitality professional and entrepreneur. A lifelong reverence for family, tradition, hard work, and fresh food have been cornerstones of his career as a slow food and sustainability advocate and hot sauce aficionado. In addition to founding Red Clay Provisions, his acclaimed hot sauce company, Geoff also serves as the hospitality director for a South Carolina retirement community where his holistic approach to wellness encompasses exercise, yoga, and, of course, delicious, healthy food. He credits his creativity, resourcefulness, team-building skills and commitment to working toward a vision as the greatest assets in his life’s work.
It is just these skills that led Geoff to connect with his fellow founders to launch IDefine. When his 15-month-old daughter Ella was diagnosed with Kleefstra Syndrome in 2019, Geoff and his wife, a special education teacher and advocate, sprang into action to find resources and support to better understand this rare genetic condition. Consulting with the other parents he met on his path to becoming his daughter’s greatest advocate, he and his team built a vision for IDefine to become an organization focused on improving treatment and, ultimately, finding cures for children and adults with Kleefstra Syndrome and other intellectual disabilities – a vision to change the world that has become his life’s work.

In Geoff’s Words:

Tell us about the person you love who was diagnosed with KS. 

My daughter, Ella, is 2 years old and the motivation behind this work. She is determined, sweet, feisty, and silly. She absolutely adores her mother and tolerates her two older brothers and dad! Kidding aside, she is an absolute blessing for our family.

When did your child receive a KS diagnosis? 

15 months

What resources, outlets, communities were most helpful to you at that time? 

We worked with the Greenwood Genetic Center to get the diagnosis, and the team there, led by Dr. Roger Stevenson, is and was incredible. Visiting the team at Boston Children’s Hospital, and meeting Dr. Sid Srivastava, Kira Dies, and the rest of the team was incredibly motivating and hope inducing. Additionally, the Facebook page was a great find for my wife and I to establish connections with others in the KS family, and Hira with KIDS IQ has also been an unbelievable resource. For me, the unknown was challenging, but once we received the diagnosis, I had something specific to chase!

How has KS changed your life as a family? 

I wouldn’t say we have changed as much as I would say we pivoted. My wife has been a special education teacher for 15 years, and my sister-in-law has Down’s Syndrome. We were built for this. This opportunity has provided me with an immense amount of purpose to change the world. Our family has focused on celebrating milestones, big or small, because our perspective has shifted to not take things for granted. We are kinder, more empathetic, and stronger. I love that my boys (4 and 6) will have inclusivity ingrained in the fabric of their being. We are embracing this journey and determined to realize positive outcomes!

What is your biggest hope for the future? 

To solve the riddle and cure KS as well as intellectual disabilities as a whole that are derived from genetic disorders. I want to change the world.