MELROSE PARK, Illinois -- On Halloween, 9-year-old Anthony Alfano is a star. His costumes have included Mini-Me, a Blackhawks goalie, Zoltar, even a Lincoln Memorial snow globe.
However, for this boy living with cerebral palsy, Halloween is more than a day of dress up. It's an escape.
"He's always seen as Anthony, the boy that can't do nothing... I just want to make him not be seen that way. Halloween costume is like the best disguise," said his dad, Tony Alfano.
Each year he designs and builds costumes for his son from scratch. Then, 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," she said.
Anthony can't dress himself or feed himself like other kids his age, but looking past their daily struggle, the Alfanos make the most of trick-or-treating. Word is Anthony always goes home with a full bag of candy. M&Ms are his favorite.
This year, Anthony's costume recreates "the famous waiting room scene" from the movie "Beetlejuice." Dad built a mock couch around Anthony's old wheelchair with mannequins flanking Anthony's seat.
"He has like a stigma for having special needs. So this is a way that they look at him and they see this, like, bright, happy kid and it makes them feel good; in return puts a smile on his face when he gets all the attention," added Anthony's mom.
Last year, he was the Wheel of Fortune, complete with a spinning wheel just like on the show. The costume garnered lots of attention, including a stop to visit 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 described it as "the best feeling ever," comparing it to "watching your kid hit a home run in a baseball game."
Each year, Tony's handy work seems to get more complex, more detailed too. This year, he took it up a notch yet again, creating a "Betelgeuse" lawn sign that lights up.
I asked Tony, "Have you finally outdone yourself?"
He instantly responded, "No. Not yet. I don't think so. I think... there's room for more," adding, "He motivates me to do what I have to do as a dad."
Anthony's inspiring others, too, after being featured recently in an Easter Seals fashion show when his physical therapist was honored.
"It's kind of like we've built this platform for other families," explained Deanna, adding, "It feels like this was kind of like our purpose, to bring Anthony into people's lives and homes and to brighten their day and put a smile on their face."
On Halloween, there's no smile bigger than his.
Illinois boy with special needs dresses as 'Beetlejuice' for Halloween
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