There’s no slowing down Onslow Mountain’s CJ Atkinson

Published on April 19, 2017

CJ Atkinson is only 11 but he’s gone through about 30 surgeries. Despite that, he’s full of energy. He enjoys being active and playing games.

©Lynn Curwin/Truro Daily News

ONSLOW MOUNTAIN, N.S. – Undergoing about 30 surgeries and getting around school with the help of a walker might dampen the spirits of some children, but 11-year-old CJ Atkinson is still full of smiles.

CJ – Charles John – was born with a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia, a genetic condition that typically results in short arms, legs and fingers and a large head. During his most recent surgery, on Feb. 3, doctors tried to stretch his muscles, hoping this would decrease the curvature of his spine (kyphosis). It was unsuccessful and a more extensive surgery, that involves breaking hip bones, may soon be performed.

“Going to the hospital doesn’t bother me,” said CJ. “I know most of the people that work there (at the IWK) now. I get bored and go around in my wheelchair visiting people or I play games on my phone.”

He considers the worst things about hospitals to be the food and having a sore throat, due to the breathing tube, after surgery.

CJ has been to both the IWK and the Shriners Hospital in Montreal and has rods in his back and a shunt in his head. One procedure on his back, which was expected to last four hours, ended up taking eight. That day, he required three blood transfusions.

“I know it’s important for people to donate blood when things like that happen,” he said.

CJ is active at North River Elementary School and a member of 185 Navy League Cadets. He uses a walker to get around many places, with a wheelchair for longer distances. His mother, Tabitha, said at home he just “tumbles around” and he’s able to do that very quickly. Because of his height he has also become very good at climbing.

“He’s naturally outgoing and active,” said Tabitha. “He adapts to things and doesn’t slow down.”

CJ is one of only about 30 dwarves in the Maritimes.


A fundraiser for CJ is being held at the North River Fire Hall on Saturday, April 22, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Music will be provided by Trainwrek and admission is $10 at the door.

People can also donate through an open trust fund at the community credit union (account number 67266103).