Community rallies for Ocean Springs child fighting dwarfism

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX)- From the very beginning, life for four-year-old Joseph Spina and his mother Annette Kortman wasn't typical.

"He has something called Primordial Dwarfism," Kortman said.  "It's extremely rare."

She said although life with Joseph is a gift, it's also a challenge finding doctors who understand his condition. That's why she and Joseph are headed to the Little People of America Conference in Brooklyn, NY this summer.

"They're going to have workshops every day, and doctor appointments that all the doctors around the United States come to donate time, and we get to see and get their opinions as well."

They're seeking help on lots of issues, including advice on Joseph's tiny foot, that some doctors believe should be amputated.  The cost of attending the conference probably would have been a roadblock for the family, until the community stepped in.

"When we found out they might possibly have to amputate his leg if they didn't get some kind of doctor to do an orthodic or do something to try to get his leg straightened out, it was just terrible," said Joe Fullerton, owner of Wee Bit Used Children's Store.  "And we felt like we should jump in and try to help him raise some money to get him to see the doctor."

Wee Bit Used in Ocean Springs, with help from Lenny's Sub Shop, raised $350 for the trip with a community weekend yard sale, raffles, and personal donations.

"We always hope for more, but I think it turned out really well," said Tara Fullerton, who also owns Wee Bit Used.  "For the rest of the week, we're going to continue the five dollar bag sale. We're also going to accept donations throughout the week. So anybody who wants to donate, please come up to us."

Kortman never asked for help, but she said now that it's here, she and Joseph couldn't be more grateful.

"We wouldn't be able to do it without them," she said.

Wee Bit Used owners are thinking about holding a fundraiser every year for a different member of their community.

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