SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Soccer mom, reality show star, charity founder and little people advocate Amy Roloff can add another task to her list — traveling lecturer.
Known as the mom from TLC's reality series, "Little People, Big World," Roloff will give a lecture Tuesday night at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va. The lecture is tied to National Recreation Sports and Fitness Day, founded by the National Recreation Intramurals Sports Association.
"She's a strong woman, plus she embodies everything I'm trying to encourage students and the community to do: Get involved, be healthy, live a healthy lifestyle," said Keith Worrell, intramurals coordinator at Shepherd University.
Worrell has hosted prior events in recognition of National Recreation Sports and Fitness Day, but thought bringing in Roloff would attract a bigger crowd.
Camera crews followed the Roloff family as they worked their pumpkin farm in Oregon, capturing some of the every day challenges little people face. Roloff is a little person and is married to Matt Roloff, who is also a little person. They have four kids — their son, Zach, is a little person, too, but his fraternal twin, Jeremy, is of average height.
The final episode of "Little People" aired Dec. 6, 2010, after a six-season run. Roloff, 49, has been trying to make good on her recent celebrity status ever since. She's been taking on speaking engagements like her Shepherd visit and has become more active with the charitable foundation she formed in 2009.
Roloff said her message for Shepherd students is simple.
"Regardless of what is going on in your own life the most important thing is how you see yourself," Roloff said. "Before you can have other people believe in what you're doing, you've got to believe it in yourself. And if you value yourself as much as you hope you do, isn't as important to value other people?"
Roloff has been involved with the Dwarf Athletic Association of America and has helped coach her sons' soccer teams. Roloff didn't grow up with sports as a child, though she picked up sports later in life.
"What it did for me in my personal development, my physical development, how I looked at myself, my confidence — I think it's important to have that available," Roloff said. Especially for people with disabilities, she said. "They don't necessarily have that opportunity readily available."
She's expected to talk about sports, diversity and overcoming obstacles at Shepherd. She used her son, Zach's experience in sports as an example of challenges little people face in sports and in life.
"He knows he's good, but to go out there each and every time and still have to prove yourself and have those people that you play with trust your abilities, that's tough," she said. "That applies to life. When you're in a job and you're, you have a disability, in subtle ways and more direct ways, I do believe that you are constantly proving to yourself and the people you work with that you know what you're doing, that you have the capabilities."
Roloff said at times, feeling as though there's always have something to prove can be tough. But it's something she says she's learned to move past.
"Being stuck is the worst place to be because it's a lot harder to get out of that self-defeatist attitude," Roloff said. "It's a lot harder to get out of what you perceive as negative. That's a much scarier place than moving forward and failing because at least I keep moving forward."
If you go ...
WHAT: Lecture by Amy Roloff, from TLC reality show "Little People, Big World." Hosted by Shepherd University Intramural department, in recognition of National Recreational Sports and Fitness Day.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22
WHERE: Storer Ballroom, on third floor of the Shepherd University Student Center, Shepherdstown, W.Va.
The Student Center is on the eastern portion of Shepherd's campus, off King Street, north of High Street.
MORE: For more information, contact intramurals director Keith Worrell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-876-5076.