World’s Smallest Dwarf Siblings Live Large at College
(SANDOVAL, Ill.) -- Bradley (Brad), 21, and Bridgette (Bri), 23, Jordan are primordial dwarfs and the world's shortest living brother and sister, but they live life large.
Bri weighs 18 lbs. and is only 27 inches tall; Brad is 35 pounds on a 38-inch frame, according to the book of Guiness World Records.
The Sandoval, Ill., siblings are part of a new eight-part television series, Big Tiny that will premier Monday night and will air on subsequent Mondays at 10 p.m. on TLC.
Because of their size, they have special challenges: They ride in car seats, Bri bathes in the kitchen sink and just lifting a bag of sugar off a supermarket shelf is hard work.
But with the help of their family -- mom Christy Jordan and their average-sized sister Brandi -- they not only cope, they succeed.
Bri is the "boss" of the family. She doesn't let having a tracheotomy since she was six months old stop her from baking and enjoying friends.
The pair earned scholarships to attend Kaskaskia Junior College in Centralia, where both were on the cheerleading team.
Diminutive Brad can do multiple flips and is hoisted to the top of the human triangle.
"People don't realize we are actually very athletic," he told ABC News. "Just because we are small doesn't mean we can't do anything."
The siblings were born two years apart with Majewski (microcephalic) osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism Type II, a genetic type of primordial dwarfism. There are more than 200 types of primordial or proportionate dwarfism. In most cases, the short stature is caused by skeletal or endocrine disorders.
According to the Mayo Clinic, dwarfism is generally defined as someone with an adult height of 4 feet, 10 inches or less.
An estimated 100,000 to 500,000 Americans have the disorder, according to the website for primordial dwarfism.
Treatments for most dwarfism-related conditions don't increase stature but may lessen associated physical complications.
Many with dwarfism are diagnosed before birth, but in Bri Jordan's case, doctors did not know she had the disorder until she was 18 months old. Her mother was pregnant with Brad at the time.
Those with dwarfism may encounter discrimination. Most commonly use the terms "dwarfs" or "little people." The word "midget" is now considered derogatory. Many wrongfully assume that those with dwarfism are intellectually impaired and treat them like children.
Maybe their big attitudes helped, but Bri and Brad say they've never experienced bullying in school. Their classmates have always helped them get a leg up on whatever they wanted to do.
But teachers and strangers often "sheltered" them and treated them like children, according to their mother.
Christy Jordan, 44, a registered nurse, has raised her children to believe they can do anything. A single mom, she relies on a large extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins.
"We are from a small community and in general people want to do good," she said. "Brad was a gymnast and the team members helped him through school."
With their sister Brandi, who calls herself the "outcast" for being taller, they go camping and take trips to Las Vegas and help around the house.
"Their older sister helped me when they were little to treat them the same way she got treated," said Christy Jordan. "Then she advocated for them."
Their mother supports their can-do spirit, telling the siblings, "can't doesn't live here."
In the past, dwarfs have often been portrayed in circus sideshows or in comical roles on television and the movies. But today, there are more role models in entertainment. Peter Dinklage, who has dwarfism, is a break-out star on the HBO series, Game of Thrones.
Christy Jordan said she isn't even critical of the entertainment shows that highlight dwarfs in comedic roles [Danny Woodburn of Seinfeld and Verne Troyer of Austin Powers, for example] -- "as long as it is done tastefully and they are not exploited."
"I think society in general for anyone with special needs has changed in a good direction," she said. "They are just like average people trying to live life."
All the Jordans want to accomplish is to, "get the word out" and educate people about dwarfism.
As for the series, Big Tiny, Brad Jordan said he hope it "inspires people." Bri Jordan immediately chimed in, "Yeah, yeah."
He hopes to go on and work in sports or the theater arts. She wants to he a fashion designer and create clothing for little people.
As for their mother, Christy Jordan said it is her youngest children who inspire her.
"When I look back and see how they live life, if I could do half of that, I would be doing great," she said.
To learn more, go to the Potential Foundation, which supports the work of families dealing with dwarfism.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio