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Thousands in OC for Little People of America National Conference

July 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
They may not be tall, but they generally stand out in a crowd, except for this week. Thousands of little people have descended on Orange County for the annual Little People of America National Conference, a chance they say to not stand out.

"There is a first timer here who was saying the best part about being here is he hadn't been stared at or pointed at all week long and how great that was," said Leah Smith of Little People of America.

The weeklong conference in Anaheim offers lifestyle and health seminars and an expo where little people can shop for items geared especially for them. It attracts people from all around the world, including Australia, Chile and China.

"It's an excellent opportunity for parents to see it's going to be OK for my child, because here it's like, 'Oh wow, here's an adult, they went to college, they have a good job,'" said Angela van Etten of Stuart, Fla.

But the Little People of America aren't the only little people flocking to Southern California. The Dwarf Athletic Association of America is also hosting its 25th annual National Games here this week.

"Spending like a few days, like a week out here, hanging out with your friends is actually pretty awesome," said Trenton Artren.

But don't assume little people can't bring a big game. On the contrary, the folks here will tell you these games are a lot rougher than regular soccer games.

"Average-sized people, they kind of go a little bit more easier on you because they don't want to like run you over or anything, but with little people, it's more challenging," said Jackie Laliberte of Temecula.

Amy Andrews, Dwarf Athletic Association of America president, said it's more competitive.

"In today's world, it's very difficult being a little person and trying to compete against your mates in elementary school, high school and even older, and this gives them the opportunity to do that," Andrews said.

The Dwarf Athletic Association and the Little People of America are separate groups, but they have the same objective: to help little people realize anything and everything is within their reach - no small task, but a worthy goal.

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