The story around the motto Stand Tall For Differences for my website goes back to 2009. I was in 8th grade and had just come back to school from a year off recovering from my first spine surgery. Coming back to school was difficult as my perspective on life had changed after going through the surgery, and year long recovery process. The way I was greeted back, it felt like I wasn’t understood how difficult the process was for me and the amount of pain and complications I had as a result of the surgery.
I wanted to talk to someone or have someone talk to my school about understanding people with differences and the challenges people with disabilities, specifically Little People like myself, I have to go through everyday. I was done and tired with making people think that everything was okay when my life was challenging. I wanted to create that awareness, especially since I was the only Little Person at my school.
Around that time, I was really into the TLC show, Little People, Big World a show about parents, Matt and Amy Roloff, who are Little People – the husband has Diastrophic Dysplasia and the wife has Achondroplasia – and their four children living on a farm outside of Portland Oregon; one of their oldest sons, also has Achondroplasia, while the others are all average height. The purpose of the show is to show the world how Little People can achieve dreams and live a regular life like everyone else. The father, Matt Roloff, had a dream he would own a farm and create a business out of it and a fantasy world in it where his kids would one day play and use their imagination. He persevered and did exactly that, and I admired him for it.
I wanted to see if I could get Matt Roloff to come to my school and talk about his life and how despite his short stature, he achieved his dreams. This required fundraising. My dad gave my the idea to start a small non-profit in order to get donations from people to pay for Matt Roloff’s travel and hotel expenses. We wanted to come up with a name that would represent me but also encompass the idea of accepting all types of disabilities. Matt Roloff was always saying on his show that he would “stand tall” despite his short stature. His philosophy on life was the gateway to my motto for the non-profit. That was how Stand Tall For Differences came to be the name.
“I just like to stand tall and think big.” – Matt Roloff
We raised enough money to get Matt to speak at my school and he talked about how growing up, he was told he shouldn’t have big dreams or was shot down and teased because of his size. But in the end, he said what he gained out of his experiences was resilience. It was because of Matt’s resilience that got him to buy his farm and create his own business. Meeting Matt also helped me learn the importance of following your passions and following your dreams. The main takeaway I took was to not let people tell you you are not good enough because of your disability.
Ever since meeting Matt Roloff, Stand Tall For Differences has been one of my many mottos that I go by. Despite my short size, I know I am worth it.