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Rilee Thurber loves to dance to Taylor Swift. And if it happens to be for a good cause, well then that’s just an added bonus.


In a video that often makes the rounds online, the five-year-old danced to Swift’s “Shake It Off” to raise awareness for Dwarfism Awareness Month in October.   It is a program of the Little People of America (LPA), a nonprofit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature and their families.

At 32 inches tall, Rilee herself has a form of dwarfism known as achondroplasia. This is the most common form of dwarfism. People with achondroplasia have a relatively long trunk and shortened upper parts of their arms and legs. Most also have a large head with a prominent forehead, a flattened bridge of the nose, and bowed legs. The condition is often hereditary, but there is a 25% chance that a child born to a couple in which both members have achondroplasia will be of normal height.  Sometimes the condition is caused by a spontaneous gene mutation at conception.

Following the success of the video, Rilee’s mother Angela started a Facebook page called “Smiles from Rilee,” which she uses to inform others about her daughter’s condition. As her mom Angela says, Rilee is small in size but huge in personality and spunk! The site is filled with great videos of Rilee and others like her doing everything that less-challenged children can do. More than 25,000 people follow the page.

Richard Thompson is an associate editor at Rare. Follow him on Twitter @RThompson_91 

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