Horsefly’s Riley Windeler playing volleyball for Team Canada at the 2013 World Dwarf Games in East Lansing

Horsefly’s Riley Windeler playing volleyball for Team Canada at the 2013 World Dwarf Games in East Lansing

Dwarfism awareness raised by Horsefly resident

Riley Windeler doesn’t let his small stature stand in his way.

Riley Windeler doesn’t let his small stature stand in his way.

The 25-year-old Horsefly resident, who has a form of short-limbed dwarfism called Hypochondroplasia, wants to share the challenges and opportunities he’s faced in his life growing up and living in the Cariboo as part of October’s Dwarfism Awareness Month.

“The main thing is we may be smaller and not physically the same but we can still do the same things with adaptations as everyone else, and we want to be treated the same as everyone else,” Windeler said.

Growing up going to school in Horsefly was an enjoyable experience, he said, noting everyone in the small town knew each other, accepted him for who he was and was friendly.

It wasn’t until he moved on to high school in Williams Lake when Windeler began getting picked on by his peers.

“There was lots of bullying,” he said. “Mostly the term ‘midget,’ which we consider highly offensive.”

Since high school, Windeler has gone on to obtain a human services diploma from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and now works as an educational assistant at Horsefly Elementary/Junior Secondary School.

As an adult, however, the looks, the stares and the discrimination still creep their way into his life on a daily basis.

“It’s an every day thing,” he said. “But after a while you learn to ignore it.”

Finding work is also a struggle many little people face, he said.

“As I got older obtaining work and jobs became a challenge,” he said.

“Employers don’t always see you as being able, they see you as being different and think you won’t be able to fulfill the job to its description.”

But with adaptations, like the ones Windeler uses on his brake, gas pedal and seat to drive a vehicle, most jobs and tasks can be easily accomplished, he said.

His size has granted him the opportunity to travel around North America and to educate people about dwarfism.

Windeler is an avid sports fan, the president of the Little People of BC and the vice-president of the Dwarf Athletic Association of Canada.

He attends the Little People of America National Conference every summer — the most recent in St. Louis last year — alongside roughly 3,000 other little people.

He also competes as a member of Team Canada and on various teams in Dwarf Athletic Association of America events playing volleyball and soccer, among other sports.

Windeler is a member of Little People Big World star and friend Zach Roloff’s soccer team and appeared on the TV show in 2007 and 2008. He credited the program with bringing awareness about dwarfism to the forefront of mainstream media.

He also worked with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) legend Mick Foley (Mankind, Cactus Jack) during his comedy show in Salmon Arm last year as a referee in a skit involving Hulk Hogan.

His experiences, his friends and those who accept him have allowed him to continue to keep a positive outlook and he continues to be an advocate for people with dwarfism in his day-to-day life.

“We’re all the same,” he said.

“That’s the biggest thing. We may look different but inside we’re the same as everyone else.”

For more on the Little People of BC visit www.littlepeopleofbc.org/index.html.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler comes off a night shift on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Our Hometown: The doctor is in the house

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler was born and raised in Williams Lake

The Williams Lake Trail Riders Arena is slated to have a new roof installed this spring after funding from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Trail Riders Arena, stable stalls, to get new roof at Stampede Grounds

Some of the stalls currently aren’t able to be rented out due to leaks in the roof

A sign is seen this past summer outside Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Yunesit’in First Nation completes second round of vaccinations

A total of 26 people have since recovered from COVID-19 after having tested positive

A 100 Mile RCMP officer stands watch at the intersction of Highway 97 and Horse Lake Road. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Volunteers, police search Highway 97 for articles related to high-speed chase

Search will stretch from Canco Gas Station in Lac La Hache to 150 Mile House.

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Most Read