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LIVERMORE, Calif. – At local chamber of commerce meetings, Jim Ott and Joe Foos crossed paths many times and eventually struck up a friendship that has endured for the last three years.

So when the producers of a new television documentary on “little people” or “dwarfs” approached Ott, president/CEO of the $240 million UNCLE Credit Union, he was more than willing to share his perspective. Foos, along with his wife Ginny and their three children, were the subject of a program titled “Dwarf Family: Meet the Fooses.” The documentary, produced for the Discovery Channel, follows them as they navigate through their daily lives and the challenges that come with being “little people,” as they prefer to be called. The program has become so popular that Discovery and TLC have re-run it five times. Joe, a 4’2″ San Francisco resident, is director of sales and marketing at LanLogic, an information technology firm. His wife Ginny, a full-time mom and part-time teacher, is 3’2″. Both have achondroplasia, a genetic condition which results in an average-sized trunk, short arms and legs, slightly enlarged head and prominent forehead. The condition affects one in every 26,000 to 40,000 people and occurs equally in men and women and within all races, according to data from Little People of America, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature and their families. Experts estimate that 10,000 little people live in the United States and 150,000 to 230,000 worldwide. The Fooses’ children are also little people. Ott recalls meeting Joe for the first time. “He was friendly and not the pushy salesman-type,” Ott said. Ott soon discovered that his oldest daughter attends the same school as one of Joe’s sons and Ginny was a substitute teacher there too. The credit union CEO wears multiple hats as a correspondent for the Tri-City Herald since 1999 and an English professor at a local college. It was around the time Ott began writing about the Foos family when producers contacted him about his working relationship with Joe. Ott’s segment was taped shortly before a feature story on the Fooses ran in a September 2005 issue of the Oakland Tribune. “After I started writing my column about his family, I got to visit his house and meet his adorable kids,” Ott recalled.

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