Liberty Student Battles Rare Disorder

Jessalyn Hartsfield starts off her week at E.J. Blott school in Liberty singing about shapes.

However, she really loves reading and writing.

Hartsfield, 9, is in the 3rd grade, but she is visibly smaller than her classmates.

“Right now, she’s 40 inches tall, which is the size of a typical 4-year old,” said Hartsfield’s mother Jessica Rivera. “She weighs 20 pounds.”

Hartsfield weighed 3 pounds when she was born. By her first birthday, she was at just 12 pounds. That’s when a doctor diagnosed her with primordial dwarfism, a rare type of dwarfism with less than 150 cases around the world.

“She’s perfectly proportioned. She’s just small for her age,” said Rivera. “She has learning disabilities and speech delays. They have a lot of medical issues as well.”

While living with this rare condition is not easy, Hartsfield is excelling in school this year.

“She is so excited to learn,” said Liberty teacher Laurie Spatholt. “And once she learns something, she just wants to share with everyone.”

Hartsfield herself hopes to be a teacher one day.

“We always joke that she’s going to be in the classroom across the hall, and we’ll pass notes back and forth,” said Liberty teacher Carla Collins. “She has those goals for herself, and she strives to reach them.”

Hartsfield is part of Potentials Foundation, which helps fund her doctor visits.

“We meet with specialists. They basically teach us how to take care of our kids, what to expect. You get to talk to parents and realize you’re not the one going through it,” said Rivera.

Now, Hartsfield’s family is hosting a benefit dinner to give back to the foundation. The fundraiser will be held Sunday, May 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Palermo Banquet Center, 394 Tenney Ave., Campbell, Ohio. Tickets are $10.

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