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August 3, 2013

DREAMING BIG: 7-year-old with dwarfism competing in world games

JEFFERSONVILLE —  If you ever need solid evidence that big things coming in small packages, look no further than 7-year-old Amon Armour.

Born with a type of dwarfism called achondroplasia, the Jeffersonville resident doesn’t allow this rare condition to hold him back from anything in life, including his love of sports.

Beginning today, Amon will take this athleticism to a whole new level as he represents the USA in the 2013 World Dwarf Games. Little people from all over the world will converge on Michigan State University in Lansing to compete in numerous events. Throughout the week, Amon will play in five different sports: basketball, track and field, flag football, soccer and floor hockey.

Athletic ability has always been something natural for Amon, if not his birthright. Both his mother Tasha Moorman and his father were high school athletes. Shea, his older sister, plays varsity basketball at Jeffersonville High School, where the student section is Amon’s stomping grounds.

At the age of 4, he got the itch and began playing organized sports at a nearby Y.

Get ready for a long answer when you ask the first-grader his favorite sport though. Although right now he’s a little down on track, he still likes them all, and can’t settle on just one.  

“He loves sports. He can’t play at the level like [the other kids] play, at but he still gives it a 100 percent,” Moorman said. “With all the sports that he likes to do, at his size he is able to do them, just in a different way.”

While Amon’s will, strength and ingenuity can rival the greatest athletes, sometimes his shorter stature makes it hard for him to play competitively against other children his age. And with few little people living in the area, that sense of difference can be bothersome.

At first, Amon struggled with this awareness. But his mother always told him that, “You can’t be big like them, but you can be big like you.”

That’s one of the reasons the World Dwarf Games are so important to those living with the condition.

“My biggest thing that I hope he takes away from it is that he’s not by himself,” Moorman said. “He can see hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people like him that are succeeding and doing different things and competing at a level he wants to compete at but isn’t able to do in everyday life.”

From an early age, Moorman instilled in her son that he was capable of doing anything in his own. His situation never has given him preferential treatment. When he gets older, his mother said, the world wouldn’t treat him differently. Neither will she.

“It’s a struggle because you think about him getting older and having to deal with everything that’s going on,” Moorman said. “I just want to make sure that as he gets out in the world he can function and have high self-esteem. It really doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks about you.”

Stares from people at times can be an annoyance for the family. Moorman wishes that people would approach her and ask her about her son’s dwarfism rather than glare. Educating others about his condition is important to her.

And don’t call her son a midget, although little person or a person with dwarfism is, she said, acceptable.

“Parents have to talk to their kids. If you see him or anybody like him, just ask. I don’t like when people stare. I’d rather you come up to me,” Moorman said. “Treat them the same. The only difference between them and anybody else is their size. That’s it.”

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David Bennett, Jeffersonville, is pictured at Riverview Village in Clarksville where he is undergoing rehabilitation after losing his leg due to diabetic complications. Bennett is a 1981 New Albany High School graduate, and was on the 1980 basketball team that finished the season with a 27-1 record.

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