# Storytellers: Young swim star beats the odds

GOLDEN - Everyone looks for ways to fit in. A 10-year-old in Golden is redefining that, for everyone who is lucky enough to meet her.

When we first met Mia Towl, she was busy explaining the details of a math project to a friend at Kyffin Elementary school.

"The design must include a quadrilateral with two symmetrical sides," Towl said.

In Ms. Lisa Boem's 4th grade class the lessons about measurements were not limited to math.

"Mia is a math whiz," Boem said. You can't give her enough math."

Everyone in class knew Towl was the one with the answers.

"Yes, it is really easy," Towl said.

It's so easy that Twol will skip 5th grade math altogether next year.

Towl was also the one who taught her classmates that the measurements of the world are not always accurate, or fair.

"People are different," she said. "Don't laugh at people for who they are and don't be mean to anyone for who they are."

Towl climbed off of her specially made chair to go get another pencil. Her chair has three steps so she can reach the desk that fits every other student in class. Towl has Achondroplasia. It is one of approximately 200 forms of dwarfism. She will likely grow to be just over four feet tall one day. She isn't there yet.

"Have fun at the choir performance!" a classmate said as she put her arm around Towl.

It was the next activity in Towl's busy and inspiring life.

The fourth grade choir filed into the school gym for the end of the year concert. Towl stood proudly in the front row. She knows she is so much more than her 39 inches.

A lot of people ask. She prefers if they do. The stares and whispers are worse. She is happy to explain that she was born with a form of dwarfism.

"It is just who I am," Towl said.

Her parents are both average size people. Towl's dwarfism was caused by a mutated gene. Her mom says it happens in about one in 40,000 births.

"She has helped us understand that beauty comes in all packages and sizes and she is a wonderful person," Lyssa Towl said

Towl is a 10-year-old who has never calculated what she should try or could do, by her size. The next item on the itinerary came as quickly as she could run home to grab her swim bag.

She did a cannon ball into the water at the Point in Lakewood.

"I just like how the water feels on my body," she said. "Free from all the bad things in the world."

"When she is in the water it is freeing for her," her mom said. "It doesn't cause her pain and she is good at it."

Towl started swimming when she was 6 months old. It is good low impact sport for a little person. It helped her joints and was a safe way to stay active and healthy. She loved it instantly.

As she got older, her parents saw she had a knack for it, and saw the competitor in her blossom.

9NEWS reporter Cheryl Preheim asked, "You are a world record holder, right?"

Towl smiled, held up two fingers and laughed. She was a competitive giant at the 2013 World Dwarf Games in Michigan. Of 250 swimmers from 19 countries, she won 3 gold medals. She set world records in the breast stroke and butterfly. She was named "most promising athlete" from Sportswomen of Colorado

"Swimming is where she holds her records but she has a lot of interests," her dad Dean said. "She is extremely well rounded and we are so proud of her."

Towl has discovered she fits in, in a lot of ways - even if a lot of people miss it.

The question she gets most often is "How old is she?"

People expect the answer, "four" not "10-years-old."

There are worries for the Towls, especially as their daugher's peers get bigger and stronger.

"I worry every day about her being trampled in a crowd at school," her mom said. "But I don't mind that she can ski a black diamond."

Towl is a gifted skier. She always gets attention on the slopes when other skiers see this 39 inch person skillfully maneuvering the runs.

She is a curious and intelligent scientist who spends hours at her microscope in the living room and signs up for science camps when she isn't in school.

She even loves to ride horses. They are all activities her parents encourage.

"One of my thoughts is we need to prepare her to be ready for a world that is not necessarily built for her in terms of size and she is going to have to deal with that as she gets older," her dad said.

No matter what a day may bring, Towl knows she has support and love at home - from her parents and from her dog Kona. He towers her when he stands on his hind legs. Towl loves to dance with him.

Dean and Lyssa say their daughter got a happy gene along with the mutated gene that caused her dwarfism.

There have been hard times. There are kids who have been unkind. Sometimes they say things on purpose. Most often they simply don't understand the questions they ask are hurtful.

"Sometimes they laugh at me because I'm little," Towl said.

She said she wishes it would stop but she chooses to ignore it.

Still, she is genuinely joyful. She is an old soul who is sensitive and caring. Those things, she has learned are the most important measurements in life.

"She is who she is and she is wonderful," her mom said.

(KUSA-TV Â© 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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