On Halloween, 9-year old Anthony Alfano gets to transport himself into a whole new world. He dresses up in some of the best costumes in the neighborhood, and gets to be the happiest kid on the block for a day. In the past, he has dressed a Mini-Me, a Chicago Blackhawks goalie, and a Lincoln Memorial Snow globe. Many kids look forward to Halloween for the same reason, to be someone special and different.
However, this holiday has an added meaning for Anthony. He’s spent his whole life with cerebral palsy, often making life difficult for him. This day is almost like an escape from his harsh medical realities.
“He’s always seen as Anthony, the boy that can’t do anything… I just want to make him not be seen that way. Halloween costume is like the best disguise, said his father, Tony Alfano.
Every year, Tony designs and builds costumes for his son from scratch and his mom Deanna Alfano puts on the finishing touches.
“It’s a nice break from the everyday watching other kids run down the block, kick a ball…play with their friends. You can tell he wishes he could do those things,” his mother said.
Due to his physical limitations, Anthony is unable to dress and feed himself like the other kids his age. However, on Halloween the Alfanos are able to forget the daily struggles of Anthony’s life and give him a normal trick-or-treating experience. Apparently, Anthony always goes home with a huge bag of candy. He has a special fondness for M&Ms.
This year, Anthony will be dressed as Beetlejuice, as he sits on the couch from a scene with harry the Hunter. His parents apparently chose the costume to pay homage to the film’s 30th anniversary and to make an outfit that could accommodate their son’s wheelchair. Anthony is nonverbal, and begun using a wheelchair so he could have more physical independence.
“Because Beetlejuice was sitting on the couch made it the perfect scene to recreate,” his mother said. “People are speechless when they see it.”
Last year, Anthony had dressed up as the Wheel of Fortune, accompanied with the spinning wheel just like the show. The costume had gotten a lot of attention at the time, and Anthony even got a chance to see the “Wheel of Fortune” set when he visited Los Angeles. “
“We got to go and see and meet Pat and Vanna and watch two live tapings, and Anthony was ecstatic,” said Deanna.
Tony felt similarly about the whole experience and compared it to “watching your kid hit a home run in a baseball game.” Every year, Tony’s costume designs and Halloween decorations get more and more complex. This Halloween, he has even made a Beetlejuice lawn sign that lights up.
When asked if he’s outdone himself he responds: “I think…there’s room for more. He motivates me to do what I have to do as a dad.” Anthony was recently featured in an Eastern Seals fashion show that celebrated his physical therapist. He has since become an inspiration to many that you can always live out your dreams regardless of one’s limitations.
Anthony’s mom explains:
“It’s kind of like we’ve built this platform for other families. It feels like this was kind of like our purpose, to bring Anthony into people’s lives and homes to brighten their day and put a smile on their face.”
On Halloween day, it’s doubtful that any child will be as happy as him.