Bullying is something that nearly every middle or high-schooler faces at some point in their life. Whether it’s your clothes, your hair, your style, or your personality ”” kids and teens can be ruthless. Unfortunately, this kind of malicious bullying also happens for things completely out of one’s control, whether it be race, class, gender, sexuality, ability ”” you name it. For many children with disabilities, this kind of teasing can be particularly harsh. This was, unfortunately, the case for one young girl, Hanna Kritzeck. But after years of harassment, she found the perfect way to prove all those bullies wrong.
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE seems to be EVERYTHING IN HIGH SCHOOL
As we know, kids can be especially shallow and place all of a person’s worth in their looks. Now imagine what it’s like to be a high schooler living with primordial dwarfism. If you’ve never heard of primordial dwarfism, you’re not alone. It’s an extremely rare form of dwarfism, and some sources believe they may be as few as 100 people in the world with this condition. Living with such a rare disability can make life extremely difficult, especially while you’re growing up ”” something that Hannah Kritzeck learned the hard way.
BABY HANNAH IS BORN
When Hannah Kritzeck was born, it was clear that something about her was unlike most other babies. Most babies with primordial dwarfism are typically less than 3 pounds, and 16 inches long. Raising a child with primordial dwarfism can be extremely challenging due to the many health complications associated with the disease. Sadly, Hannah’s birth mother felt that she couldn’t deal with the responsibility of raising a child with primordial dwarfism, and decided to put her up for adoption as soon as she was born.
Primordial dwarfism is a difficult condition to describe because very little is known about it. What we do know is that it’s caused by a genetic mutation. Since it’s genetic, it can’t be treated with growth hormones the way other forms of dwarfism can be. The delayed growth of people with PD can be detected while they’re still in the womb. Adults with PD are typically less than 33 inches tall and have certain defining physical characteristics like a high-pitched voice and prominent eyes and nose.
Causes of dwarfism
Although primordial dwarfism is extremely rare, it is a particular kind of dwarfism, which is significantly more common. In general, dwarfism can be caused by bone growth disorders, hormone disorders, and genetic disorders (like with primordial dwarfism). Most forms of dwarfism allow people to have a typical life span and intelligence. In addition to the physical challenges that come with being atypically small, there can be a lot of social aspects to PD like teasing and discrimination.
WHAT DID THIS MEAN FOR HANNAH?
Unfortunately, primordial dwarfism has an unusual set of health complications that most other forms of dwarfism do not. Many people with primordial dwarfism are not expected to live over the age of 30. Certain kinds of primordial dwarfism mean an increased risk of vascular problems, seizures, brain aneurysms, and other serious physical risks, depending on the kind of PD they may have. In Hannah Resnick’s case, it meant that she was constantly tested and watched for signs of aneurysms, and had to deal with scoliosis and dental surgery to correct the smallness of her teeth.
LIVING IN AN ABLE-BODIED WORLD
The reason that living with dwarfism ”” particularly primordial dwarfism ”” can be so challenging is because we live in a world catered to bigger people. Often times, people with dwarfism need to have special furniture, special structural elements of their house, and certain tools to help them live in a world that’s been created with different bodies from their own in mind. For example, Hannah often has to get her clothes specially-made due to her small stature. Otherwise, she often has to wear clothes for children even though she’s 22 years old.
ENTER, THE KRITZECKS
After months of being up for adoption, one family decided to take in Hannah as their own. Jackie and Larry Kritzeck fell in love with baby Hannah and brought her into their family. Once an only child up for adoption, Hannah now had two brothers, Mark and Matt, and an older sister, Kelly. The family was extremely close-knit and quickly made Hannah a part of their family unit. What was difficult, however, was when they realized that Hannah wasn’t growing like the girls her age, and had to tell Hannah about her condition as soon as she was old enough to understand it.
ONE OF MANY
Hannah’s parents and siblings worked hard to make sure that Hannah was living a safe and healthy childhood. Not only did they learn to adapt to some of the physical challenges, such as her heart condition and the risk for brain aneurysms that she faced; they also learned how to support Hannah when the outside world made things difficult. Many people who are unaware of her condition were likely to stare at her, treat her differently, and even tease her because she looked different from them.
A UNIQUE CHILDHOOD
Hannah Kritzeck and her family had to worry constantly about her health as a child with primordial dwarfism. This meant she was constantly going to different doctors and getting tests done to make sure she was as healthy as possible. Annual MRI scans, dentist visits, and scoliosis monitoring became a typical part of Hannah’s childhood. Although her immediate family was 100% supportive, Hannah quickly realized what one of her biggest challenges would be: school.
PARENTING A CHILD WITH DWARFISM
Hannah’s parents quickly had to learn how to raise a child with primordial dwarfism, as their biological children were average-sized. Luckily, Jackie (Hannah’s mom) is a nurse, which may have made her specially prepared for the task at hand. They had to teach her how to live independently and constantly had to cope with the fact that Hannah may only live to 20 or 30 years old. Luckily for them, Hannah was not your typical child. She had boundless confidence and was extremely driven to get what she wanted out of life.
DEALING WITH BULLIES
All of this self-confidence and support from her siblings turned out to be something Hannah would need more than ever. Entering middle and high school meant that Hannah was constantly being stared at and bullied by her classmates. Hannah even recalls a few fights breaking out at school, as her siblings protected her from the cruelty of her classmates.
FINDING COMFORT IN HER TALENTS
Luckily for Hannah, she wasn’t one to let the bullies keep her down. She realized that she was born with talent, and that she wouldn’t let anyone stop her from pursuing her goals. That’s why Hannah decided to follow her natural love for performing. She explored local theater, dancing, and singing ”” and she was great at all three. Hannah especially exceeded in hip-hop classes, where she could freestyle even better than most of the kids in her class.
Hannah Kritzeck quickly began getting involved in more activities than the average kid. With the help of her parents, she realized that her hard work could seriously pay off. At the age of two, she began dancing. At the age of three, Hannah enrolled in gymnastics classes. She later began singing lessons, making herself a true triple-threat. These activities are not only great for Hannah’s mental health by making her happy, but dancing helps Hannah physically by staying active and strong.
ALL ABOUT HER FRIENDS
In addition to her supportive family, Hannah was lucky enough to find a core group of friends at school and in her classes to help her get by every day. Hannah and her two best friends, Heidi and Emily, love to dance and go shopping. Her friends from dance call her a triple threat, saying that there’s almost nothing she can’t do when it comes to performing. Hannah Kritzeck succeeded beyond many people’s expectations, especially in a world that doesn’t accommodate people with special needs.
ENTERING THE REAL WORLD
While Hannah was lucky enough to have so many family members and siblings supporting her, they fear that it may be difficult for her to enter the ”real” world. Hannah often had to have lots of things done for her, both due to her physical disability and the fact that her siblings felt the need to shelter her. Now, her family worries that she may not be capable of completing daily responsibilities on her own. That’s why her sister, Kelly, has taken steps to make sure Hannah slowly learns the tasks of everyday life.
BUT EVERYTHING SEEMED TO CHANGE”¦
Because the Kritzecks had given her everything: parents, siblings, a home, an education, and unconditional support ”” Hannah had always hoped there was a way to give back to those she loved the most. Hannah had her chance when, unfortunately, Jackie was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, meaning she would need a transplant ASAP. It was at this moment that Hannah realized she could give back to the mother who had given her everything.
HANNAH TAKES ACTION
Unbeknownst to her parents, Hannah decided to go to the doctor and get tested to see if her kidney was a match for her mother’s. Hannah Kritzeck knew that giving her mom a kidney would be the perfect way to try and show her appreciation for all she had done. Miraculously enough, Hannah’s kidney was a perfect match. However, the doctors were concerned about Hannah undergoing a surgery such as this, due to the slew of medical risks she was already facing with her condition.
WHAT THE SURGERY ENTAILS
Polycystic kidney disease is genetic, and it means that over time, one of your kidneys will develop cysts that will grow in number and size. While the symptoms of polycystic kidney disease like high blood pressure, pain, and kidney infections, can be managed ”” often a kidney transplant is necessary. As Jackie’s symptoms persisted, a transplant was the only course of action. With Hannah’s new and healthy kidney, Jackie would be able to return to the life she had before. Although the surgery was risky, it was a success in the end.
KIND DEEDS DON’T GO UNNOTICED
This selfless act paired with Hannah’s talent and passion for performing ended up paying off in a major way. Hannah Kritzeck had once been on the Maury Povich Show, a daytime talk show, to talk about what it was like living with primordial dwarfism. The talented teen stood out to Povich, and he invited her back for the show’s 2500th episode. When producers at the show learned that Selena Gomez was her idol, they made her dreams come true. Not only did Hannah get to meet her during the episode, but she was also given backstage passes to Selena’s upcoming concert.
As she grew up and continued to work hard to achieve her dreams of performing, Hannah Kritzeck got involved in a few major productions. Whether it was plays, movies, TV shows ”” you name it, and Hannah wanted to have a part in it. She appeared in a short film, called ”Better Left Alone,” and began appearing in local productions and musicals. Her involvement in the performing arts was going above and beyond what she had ever thought possible.
CONTINUING TO INSPIRE AUDIENCES
After her appearance on Maury, Hannah Kritzeck began to gain attention from other news sources and talk shows due to her unique drive and bubbly personality. She even appeared on an episode of Tyra, Tyra Banks’s daytime talk show. Many news sources wrote stories about Hannah’s journey and her unique life story, including Barcroft TV, The Daily Mail, local news stations, Metro News and more. Most importantly, the TV channel TLC decided that they wanted to create a documentary about Hannah.
LITTLE AND LOOKING FOR LOVE
The TV documentary was called Little and Looking for Love. The point of the short movie was to give viewers a glimpse into the everyday life of Hannah Kritzeck. It would look at her home life, her family, her friends, her everyday difficulties, and of course ”” the challenges of living with primordial dwarfism. One of the key themes, however, was Hannah trying to find a date to her senior prom. The show also discussed how it is often difficult for people with dwarfism to lead a typical love life.
HANNAH’S VIEW ON HER LIFE
Seeing the way Hannah Kritzeck overcame those who doubted her, bullied her, and refused to believe in her shows what a strong person she is. In a world made for people who are differently-abled, Hannah was able not only to survive ”” but thrive. It makes you wonder where those high school bullies are now, while Hannah is following her lifelong dreams and traveling the world and facing whatever challenges may lay ahead with her positive attitude.
GIVING BACK (EVEN MORE)
Hannah is involved with charity work, and makes the world a better place for other kids who may have also had a difficult childhood. She even performed as a soloist at Make A Wish Fundraisers. Hannah’s ability to overcome every obstacle that life threw her way is incredibly unique ”” but something we’re all capable enough. With enough kindness and pure determination, along with an amazing support system ”” anyone can have what it takes to follow their dreams just like Hannah has.