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Examiner
  • Big star

  • Zach Aubuchon might have a bit of a problem if tetherball was among the sports he was going to participate in at the TEAM USA and Dwarf Athletic Association World Games Aug. 3-10 at Michigan State University.

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  • Zach Aubuchon might have a bit of a problem if tetherball was among the sports he was going to participate in at the TEAM USA and Dwarf Athletic Association World Games Aug. 3-10 at Michigan State University.
    “He couldn't quite reach the ball at school,” joked his mother, Anita Aubuchon, “so they lowered it so he could play. People in Grain Valley have bent over backwards for Zach and our family.
    “They've been wonderful. Now, Zach has the chance to go out and represent Grain Valley and compete against other little people on a level playing field.”
    Zach, who is 12 years old, will compete in the 20-, 40- and 60-meter runs, javelin, discus and shot put in track and field and basketball and flag football.
    It will be the first opportunity the Grain Valley sixth grader will have to compete against others his own size.
    “It's like the Olympics for dwarfs,” said Zach, whose personality is large enough to fill a room with warmth and undaunted enthusiasm. “I'm going to get to represent my country and meet a lot of new people and have a lot of fun.”
    Zach has a form of dwarfism known as achondroplasia. He has three sisters who are normal sized and his parents, Curtis and Anita, are normal-sized adults.
    “The chromosomes got mixed up and we got our little blessing in Zach,” Anita said. “We didn't know what to expect when he was born. We were told he might be brain damaged, that I should get an abortion, that he would face a lifetime of medical problems – and he's so healthy and active.
    “He's had on surgery on one of his legs, and that's it. We know parents whose children have had up to 17 surgical procedures. Thank goodness he hasn't had to go through any of that.”
    Zach stands 42 inches talk, and could grow up to 4 feet.
    “I had trouble turning on the ceiling fan light in my room,” said Zach, as he carried his 2 1/2-year old niece Bailee around on his back. “But they put on a longer cord, so it's not a problem. At all my schools, they put a stool in the bathroom so I can wash my hands, give me a locker on the bottom level and let me leave class early so I don't go out in the crowd.”
    His mom interrupts briefly and chuckles, “He tells us in the hallway, all he sees are butts and up peoples' noses.”
    Zach played baseball in Grain Valley, but took a break from the sport this year.
    “I was always getting hit or walked,” he said.
    Anita recounts one bad incident in which Zach approached the plate and the pitcher walked off the mound and said, “Why is there a baby at the plate? Is this T-ball?'”
    Page 2 of 2 - The mama grizzly came out after that comment, but Zach took care of the situation by reaching on an error by the pitcher, stealing second and third and scoring a run.
    “I don't understand people,” Anita said. “I can understand if kids stare at Zach. I really can. And I love it when an adult will come up and ask me about Zach. But we were at Wal-Mart the other day and a mother and daughter just stopped and stared at him. It was so rude.”
    But Zach has answer for folks like that.
    “I just stare back,” he said, offering a wide-eyed stare that made everyone in the family living room break out in laughter.
    “Sometimes people bother me, but most of the time, I don't pay any attention.”
    His bedroom is filled with sports memorabilia, his prized nutcracker collection – that features one nutcracker that is as tall as he is – and a Missouri Mavericks Charlie Effinger bobblehead doll.
    “I really like the Mavericks,” he said. “I like all sports. I like to watch and I like to play. That's why I can't wait for the Dwarf World Games.”
    If you would like to help Zach and his family make the trip to the Games, please contact his mother, Anita Aubuchon, at 816-810-8226, or log onto http://www.gofundme.com/2evztw or send a donation to 30708 E. Stoney Point School Road, Grain Valley, Mo., 64029.
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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