This fall, Columbus temporarily will become more diverse, when it will play host to a regional conference of Little People of America.
LPA chose Columbus on the urging of Ethan Crough, an LPA member, Columbus resident and director of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation.
“Columbus is a fascinating place for people to come see. It’s a one-of-a-kind city,” said Crough, who has lived in Columbus for about three years.
He said he wanted the Little People of America members to visit Columbus to take in the city’s sights — but also to raise Columbus residents’ awareness of little people. The event will coincide with Dwarfism Awareness month, a recognition brokered by Crough at the Indiana Statehouse.
Crough, who serves as LPA’s national vice president of membership, said he sees his role as the conference’s event coordinator as an extension of his current work, which involves education and raising awareness of LPA issues.
Jana Emkes Gray, of Seymour, an LPA member since 1977 and current president of the Indiana LPA chapter, said Columbus, with its architecture, wineries and other attractions, has much to offer.
Gray said the district conference will include members from chapters in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana. She said she expects about 350 attendees, including about 100 little people. The remaining attendees will be parents, siblings, children and friends, she said. LPA membership is open to anyone.
Gray, who works as chief secretary at the Seymour Police Department, said the conference officially will begin Oct. 5 with an assembly at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, followed by an afternoon of tourism activities. The evening will end with a banquet and a dance.
Crough said events involving a public dialogue are still being planned.
Becky Harper, director of sales at the Columbus Area Visitors Center, said Crough played a critical role in bringing the conference to Columbus.
The LPA conference will be among the more heavily attended conferences in the city, Harper said, and as with any gathering, more visitors benefit the local tourism industry and harbor the potential for Columbus to have additional events.