Bullies Relentlessly Teased This Girl With Dwarfism, But She Fought Back In An Inspiring Way
When Hannah Kritzeck was born, it was clear she was special. Born with primordial dwarfism, Hannah was as small as a toy doll. Primordial dwarfism is extremely rare and meant that Hannah would certainly face unique challenges throughout her life, from medical problems to relentless bullying. But no one ever anticipated that she would persevere and become an inspiring figure to many. Read Hannah's touching story and how she's writing her own happy ending.
Hannah's Biological Mother Couldn't Take Care of Her
When Hannah was born on May 15, 1995, her mother had no idea that her precious baby girl had a rare disorder. When doctors confirmed that Hannah had primordial dwarfism — something just 100 individuals in the world live with — she was immediately overwhelmed.
Hannah's mother already had a tough time making ends meet and knew that there was no way she would be able to take care of a child with special needs like Hannah. Her mother made the heartbreaking decision to look into adoption.
Hannah Waited Months Before She Was Adopted
Unable to care for a child with special needs, Hannah's birth mother decided adoption was the best option for her daughter. Hannah was placed in foster care where she waited to be adopted. But sadly, it seemed that Hannah might be waiting for a long time. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and Hannah was still waiting to join a loving family.
When all hope seemed lost, something wonderful happened — Hannah met Jackie and Larry.
Jackie And Larry Kritzeck Adopted Hannah
Hugo, Minnesota couple Jackie and Larry Kritzeck dreamed of taking in a child who needed a warm and loving home. When they met Hannah, they immediately fell in love with her infectious smile. The couple already had their hands full with three kids, but they knew that they had the capacity to care for Hannah, so they adopted her and soon enough, she was a part of the family.
Jackie and Larry knew little about primordial dwarfism but they understood that Hannah's disorder would come with its fair share of challenges. They were up for it and set out to learn as much as they could about the disorder.
The Parents Set Out To Learn As Much As They Could About Primordial Dwarfism
When it came to raising Hannah, Jackie and Larry knew little about her disorder, so they tried to educate themselves as much as possible. They quickly learned that primordial dwarfism is a group of disorders that delay a person's growth. Often times, these individuals have what is known as intrauterine growth retardation, which causes the fetus to grow abnormally while still in the womb.
Primordial dwarfism is responsible for some of the smallest people in the world. In fact, adults with primordial dwarfism typically don't grow taller than 33 inches!
Their Family Felt Complete
When Jackie and Larry adopted Hannah, she went from an orphan to a daughter and little sister overnight! Hannah not only had a mom and dad, but she had two big brothers and a big sister: Matt, Mark, and Kelly.
Raising a child with special needs proved challenging in ways the couple never anticipated, but at the end of the day, it was more than rewarding. They truly felt like their family was complete and everyone wanted to make Hannah feel loved, supported, and accepted.
Hannah Knew She Was Different
As Hannah grew up, it became apparent that she was different. She wasn't growing physically like her siblings were and she began to notice. Throughout the years, Hannah's parents helped her understand primordial dwarfism, always making sure she knew that just because she was physically different, didn't mean she wasn't worthy of love, support, and acceptance.
Hannah was starting to realize she was different, but she was also realizing she was special too.
Her Classmates Didn't Understand Her Condition
Hannah started school and loved learning — but she wasn't always treated well by her classmates. Due to her physical differences, she was often met with stares. Her classmates didn't understand that primordial dwarfism stunted her growth, causing her to appear years younger than she actually was.
She faced almost constant bullying and name calling from students. Her crush even told her that no one would ever date her because of the way she looked.
Siblings Stick Together
When Jackie and Larry adopted Hannah, she joined a family of five. Not only did Jackie and Larry fall in love with her immediately, but so did their three children. As the four siblings grew up together, their bond only grew stronger with time.
Hannah's siblings knew how amazing she was and couldn't stand to see her being bullied at school. When they witnessed something happening, they were always there to stick up for their little sister. Sometimes things escalated and a fight would break out between bullies and Hannah's siblings, but they stayed true to their sister.
Her Family Stuck by Her Side Through All of the Ups and Downs
Middle school and high school can be tough on anyone, but that was especially true for Hannah. Although the bullying she had to deal with got her down at times, she was comforted knowing that her entire family supported her.
Throughout it all, the Kritzecks always stuck by Hannah's side. They were a team and they weren't going to let anyone make Hannah feel like she didn't deserve to be loved and supported.
Hannah Didn't Let the Bullies Win
At just 39 inches tall, Hannah is one of the smallest people on the planet. She knew that primordial dwarfism didn't mean she was any less of a person. Her friends and family knew that too. But people can be cruel and bullies can be relentless.
It was clear to Hannah that she had two options: give up and let the bullies win, or overcome their negativity and live her best life. She went with the latter.
Hannah Spoke Out About Her Differences
Hannah knew that a lot of the bullying she faced was a result of people not understanding her condition. She realized that if people knew more about primordial dwarfism, then maybe they would start to view her as a person. Hannah started speaking out about her physical differences.
"Growing up I always knew I was different from my brothers, Mark and Matt, and my sister, Kelly, who was average height. My mom and dad still made sure I had a normal childhood though," Hannah said. "Everyone thinks I'm five-years-old when they see me and it's frustrating because I'm not a baby. Just because I'm smaller, doesn't mean I'm any different."
She Shared Her Story On Maury And Met One Of Her Idols
Despite the hardships Hannah was facing while growing up, there was a lot of good that came out of it too. Once Hannah started speaking out about her condition, her incredible story spread and soon enough, she was making guest appearances on talk shows. She appeared on Maury when she was just four years old and again when she was 13 for the 2,500th episode.
Each time she shared her inspiring story. She also shared her biggest wish: to meet her idol, Selena Gomez.
She Met Selena Gomez And Made A Big Realization
After appearing on Maury for the second time when she was 13 years old, Hannah told the talk show host that her biggest wish was to meet her idol, Selena Gomez. So, of course, Maury did everything he could to make it happen.
At the end of the show, he surprised Hannah with tickets to Selena Gomez's show. Better yet, he gifted Hannah VIP tickets so she could attend a special meet-and-greet with the star. Hannah got to meet her idol and realized something big.
She Decided She Wasn't Going To Be Afraid To Follow Her Dreams
After meeting her idol, she realized just how passionate she was about dancing, singing, and performing in general. She also realized that there is no better way to stick up to the bullies than to follow her dreams, no matter how out of reach they seem. Instead of sitting back and lamenting her differences, Hannah approaches each new day with confidence. She doesn't let her fear of failure stop her from trying anything she wants to try.
Hannah doesn't believe in setting limitations for herself. If she can dream it, she can do it!
She Takes Dancing Seriously
Hannah started taking dance lessons when she was just a young girl. Now, she takes lessons at the Fourth Street Dance Centre with other students her age. "[Dancing] makes me feel good," Hannah said, "Hip-hop makes me feel really strong and ballet calms me down."
Even though Hannah's body is the size of small child's, she's proven she has no problem keeping up with everyone else. "Obviously there's a size difference but that really doesn't stop her" her dance teacher, Ellie Walter, said. "She can definitely freestyle — probably better than a lot of the other dancers here."
Despite Hannah's condition, she's on a mission to become a star — and she's got the natural-born talent to help her reach her goals! In addition to dancing, Hannah also had tried her hand at gymnastics, singing, and acting. Whatever she wants to do, she goes for it without the fear of failing.
"She's a triple threat: she can sing, she can act, she can dance," Hannah's friend Kennedy said in an interview with Barcroft TV. "There's not much she can't do in dance class," friend Maggie added. "She can do it all."
She's An Artist Too
Hannah knows that life is short, so she doesn't want to miss out on anything. She especially doesn't want to miss out on things because she's afraid she will fail. Whatever she wants to try, she goes for it — whether that means dancing, singing, acting, or drawing.
Hannah started drawing from a young age and is constantly doodling in notebooks. Although she mostly likes to draw just for fun, she says she would be interested in making art as a career too.
Her Acting Career Is Taking Off
Because of her condition, Hannah isn't afraid to live every day to the fullest. She relishes in setting big goals and doing whatever it takes to crush them. After graduating from high school and devoting her time to dancing and a slew of other interests, she was ready for her next challenge: acting.
Hannah eventually landed a role in the world-renowned Pour Vour production Mabou Mines Dollhouse. She even went on tour with the group and was later asked to reprise her role in the film version of the play.
She Landed Her Own Show on TLC
By 2014, Hannah was living a life no one anticipated. She'd overcome relentless bullying throughout school and was now dancing, singing, and performing in world-renowned productions. But now that she was technically an adult, she was ready to make her biggest moves yet — and TLC wanted to document it all.
Hannah starred in two TLC series, Little and Looking for Love followed by Tiny at 20. The special followed Hannah as she prepared to go to prom, graduate, move out of her parents' home and get a job.
It's All About Adapting
In Little and Looking for Love and Tiny at 20, viewers got a first-hand look at how Hannah lives. She quickly made it apparent that she lives her best life by adapting to any circumstance or situation that's thrown her way. One of Hannah's biggest challenges documented on the show is that she lives in a world that is too big for her — literally. From clothes to furniture to cars, everyday things we take for granted are typically made without someone Hannah's size in mind.
For this reason, Hannah has become professional at adapting. For one, she gets her clothes specially made to fit her size and personal style. She's even had furniture specially built for her needs.
She's Just Like Everyone Else
In Tiny at 20, Hannah is frequently filmed hanging out with her friends. Just like many girls her age, Hannah's interests include shopping for clothes and hanging out with her friends. When she's not at school or dancing, Hannah can usually be found shopping or hanging out with her best friends.
"She's the same as any teenager would be," Hannah's friend Heidi said. "She loves dancing. She loves singing. She loves boys."
Little And Looking For Love
Just like many other girls her age, Hannah is very interested in having a boyfriend, but dating with primordial dwarfism has proven to be a challenge. In Little and Looking for Love, she sets out to find a date to her senior prom and documents all of the trials and tribulations along the way.
Not only was Hannah hoping to find a date to the big dance, but she also had to find something else: the perfect dress. Finding the perfect dress proved to be no easy feat as Hannah is just 39 inches tall, but being a professional at adapting, she made it work.
She Still Believes In Romance
In Little and Looking for Love, viewers got to watch as Hannah attended her senior prom with a date in tow. Although she doesn't currently have a boyfriend, she is still very interested in being in a relationship and says she believes in romance.
"Lots of my friends have boyfriends - I'd like to have a boyfriend, and I believe in romance - but I just haven't got it yet," she said in the series. "My ideal man would be someone with blue eyes, brown hair, and a mohawk - and someone who would protect me."
Her Future Is Uncertain
One of the harsh realities of primordial dwarfism is that the condition comes with a shorter life expectancy. In fact, individuals with primordial dwarfism have a life expectancy rate of just 30 years old. But that doesn't stop Hannah from dreaming big and planning for her future. She also isn't afraid to put herself in the spotlight.
Hannah wants to continue to dance and would especially like to further her acting career. She also says she would love to be a vocal coach and wants to help others develop their singing voices.
She Wants To Have A Family Of Her Own
Hannah may have found a prom date in Little and Looking for Love, but she's still looking for Mr. Right. Hannah knows that her condition means she will likely live a much shorter life than the average person, but she still dreams of getting married and having children.
"Looking to the future, I'd like to get married and have my own family," she says. "I would like to have two kids, a boy and a girl."
Hannah Has Dealt With Her Share Of Health Problems
Those born with primordial dwarfism face significant health problems. The disorder can cause an increased risk of vascular problems, seizures, aneurysms, and more, depending on the type of primordial dwarfism the individual has.
Hannah spent much of her childhood in and out of the hospital monitoring her condition. Since the disorder can cause so many complications within the body, it's important that Hannah is monitored regularly. We'll learn more about some of the special medical conditions she faces on the next page.
She Has Two Titanium Rods In Her Back
At times, Hannah's medical routine can seem grueling — but the upkeep is absolutely essential to ensure she is as healthy as possible. To keep her healthy, her doctors monitor her regularly. In addition to regular check-ups, Hannah also has regular MRIs to detect aneurysms. And because her teeth are so small, she sees an oral surgeon regularly.
While this may not seem so bad, Hannah also has scoliosis — a condition that many with primordial dwarfism face — and had to have two titanium rods surgically implanted in her back to straighten her spine.
Her Mom Is Her Best Friend
Hannah's condition has required that her parents give her special attention and care throughout her life. So it's no surprise that she and her mom Jackie are extremely close. Not only are they close, but they also consider themselves to be best friends.
"I know I have a special bond with her," Jackie said. "She's kind of like my sidekick. We just do everything together." The close relationship between the two is heartwarming.
Her Mom Worries About Her All The Time
Every parent worries about their children, but things are a little different when your child is living with a potentially dangerous condition.
"The problems and risk are always going to be there, and yes, that does worry me a lot," Jackie said. "Hannah does have a dream to have her own family, to have a husband, to have a child. I guess the delving into the life expectancy — that's the hard part, I don't like to talk about it. I do need to face it, so we're just going to live like there's no tomorrow."
She Lives Every Day Like It's Her Last
Hannah knows that part of living with primordial dwarfism means accepting she has a shorter life expectancy than the average human. Now at 23 years old, Hannah is approaching the life expectancy of someone living with the condition. While this is undoubtedly a scary thought to reckon with, Hannah prefers to let it inspire her. She lives every day like it's her last.
She doesn't have time for bullying, or for any negativity for that matter. Instead, she focuses on the good in her life and on trying new things that challenge her, excite her, and bring her joy.
She Gets By With A Little Help From Her Friends
Hannah has a knack for maintaining her positive attitude, but keeping her head up can still be a challenge at times. That's why she leans on her friends for help. Hannah says she's able to keep positive thanks to her support system. In addition to her family, she's got a solid group of friends.
Hannah and her friends regularly hang out and enjoy doing things like shopping, talking, and going out to eat.
Her Family Is Still Number One
Through all of life's ups and downs, her family is still her foundation. Today, Hannah and her sibling are all grown up. Her siblings have gone on to get married and even have children of their own. Hannah keeps in touch with all of her siblings, and the family prioritizes get-togethers so they can maintain their close bond.
Hannah especially loves her nieces and nephews, most of whom are taller than her!
She's A Role Model For Everyone
While Hannah may look like a little girl on the outside, today, she is all grown up. Now in her twenties, Hannah isn't even four-feet tall and wears a size-four shoe. Still, that doesn't get her down.
She works every day to prove that life is what you make of it. Bullies will be bullies, but you can rise above them and make your dreams come true.
She's Working On Bringing Awareness To Her Condition
Primordial dwarfism is extremely rare. In fact, there are less than 100 individuals in the world who live with PD and there is still much that is not known about the condition.
Hannah has lived an incredible life so far, but knows that there is room for more progress regarding her condition. This is why she and her family are always working to bring awareness to primordial dwarfism. One group, in particular, that she loves to work with is the Potential Foundation. The Potentials Foundation helps people with PD live their best lives.
She's Made Some Great Friends In The Dwarfism Community
Hannah is active in the primordial dwarfism community. Since so few people live with the condition, it was especially important to her to reach out and find other kids and teens like her.
She's met lots of friends through the community, including Bri and Brad Jordan. Bri and Brad both live with primordial dwarfism and stand just 2 feet three inches and three feet two inches, respectively. If Brad looks familiar, that's because he accompanied Hannah to her senior prom!
She's A Great Friend To Others
Hannah is able to keep a positive attitude largely thanks to her friends and family, so she's always trying to return the favor and be the best friend she can be. In one instance, her friend Bri was in the hospital so Hannah traveled six hours to visit her.
Bri also lives with a rare form of dwarfism, so it meant even more that Hannah would surprise her while she was feeling so sick.
More People Are Sharing Their Stories
The internet has made it simpler for individuals living with primordial dwarfism to connect with others who also live with the condition. Hannah connected with Bri and Brad Jordan this way, and in return, they shared their story with the world.
Bri and Brad also had their own show on TLC called Big Tiny. In the series, their daily lives were documented as they show everyone that just because they're small, doesn't mean they're any different than everyone else.
Bri And Brad Johnson Are The World's Smallest Siblings
Bri was born in June of 1989 and weighed just one pound and 12 ounces. Amazingly, she was just 12 inches long. When Brad was born two years later, he weighed just two pounds and four ounces and was 13.5 inches long.
Today, Bri is the smallest woman in the United States and wears an infant size 2 shoe. Brad stands over a foot taller than his big sister but is still under four feet tall.
They're On A Mission To Prove Their Size Doesn't Matter
It's clear that Bri and Brad are unique, but they've got the records to prove it too. The pair holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the smallest siblings.
Just because they lack height, doesn't mean they lack talent. Bri loves to dance and says she has a passion for fashion. She's currently in college where she is studying design and hopes to design clothing for little people in the future. Meanwhile, Brad loves sports and is talented at both basketball and tumbling.
Brad Passed Away In 2017
Those who live with primordial dwarfism face a life expectancy of just 30 years old. Sadly, Brad passed away in 2017 after complications with his heart. Primordial dwarfism comes with various complications, including issues with the kidneys and the vascular system. For Brad, he experienced obstructions in his arteries which caused him to have a heart attack.
While he may be gone, his family continues to work to bring awareness to the rare condition in hopes of one day finding a cure.