When Liddy Anstoetter met Graham Rider in the hospital at age 11, the first thought that crossed her mind likely was not, “This guy getting a similar surgery will be my prom date one day.” Yet, seven years later, here they are, heading to their second senior prom together — she was Rider’s date to his senior prom last year. Anstoetter and Rider were born with the same type of dwarfism, achondroplasia, which results in shorter limbs.
They met as children in the hospital while recovering from painful surgery, according to a news station in Anstoetter’s hometown in Kansas. The two became each other’s “rocks” and formed a bond not even their parents could comprehend.
“They have a unique bond that we don’t even understand because they go through things that we don’t get,” Anstoetter’s mom said. “We try to help and support as parents, but their connection is really tight.” So tight that when she was prepping for prom, Anstoetter could think of no better date than Rider. “It’s just so cool to say I have a friend from Connecticut. I went to his prom last year. He’s going to my prom this year,” she told reporters.
It makes perfect sense that Rider and Anstoetter would form a special bond; we’ve seen others with dwarfism find comfort in people — or animals — in similar situations before. Remember when a little boy from Australia named Quaden Bayles with achondroplasia found strength and friendship in a dog with the same condition? Some ties are just made to be tighter.
According to the Paley Institute, Anstoetter was a dwarf, but she’s spent years going through “limb lengthening” procedures so that she could perform everyday tasks, such as flipping light switches and driving, by herself. When at 13 she first met Dr. Dror Paley, the acknowledged American leader in the procedure, her legs were beginning to bow. But after multiple surgeries, starting at age 14, she’s grown at least 10 inches. “Now I’m a regular person,” Anstoetter said.
Now she’s 18 and got to don a gorgeous green dress for the biggest night in a teenager’s life, with Rider by her side. “She perfectly understands me without a doubt. She probably knows me better than I know me,” Rider said of their friendship.
They’ve been there for each other through the most difficult and painful times in their lives, but now they get to be together for the most exciting nights of their teenage years.
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