Anthony Alfano, 8, watches “Wheel of Fortune” every night with his parents.
When Anthony, who has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal, got a device that allows him to use his eyes to communicate, the first thing he did was pull up the alphabet board like he sees on the show, according to his mom, Deanna Alfano.
So when it came time to create a Halloween costume for Anthony this year, Alfano and her husband, Tony, immediately had the idea to create a “Wheel of Fortune” costume for Anthony’s wheelchair.
The couple began planning Anthony’s costume in August. By September, Tony Alfano, who works in sales for a sign company, began to spend every night in the backyard of their Melrose Park, Illinois, home building the costume.
The Alfanos used LED lights, foam, aluminum board and PVC pipes to construct the wheel and attach it to Anthony’s wheelchair.
Deanna Alfano, a hairstylist, glued faux suede onto the foam to create the top level of the wheel that contestants stand behind on the TV show.
Tony Alfano used digital imaging to create the numbers on the wheel and contestant name tags. He even added nuts and bolts to the wheel so it makes the clicking sound when spun as it does on the show.
When the costume became too top heavy for Anthony’s wheelchair, Tony Alfano cut the family’s recycling bin in half, added wheels to it and put it under the wheel for support.
A Lazy Suzan in the center of the wheel allows it to spin so other kids can join Anthony in the game.
“We really wanted it to be interactive for him,” said Deanna Alfano.
The Alfanos have created elaborate costumes for Anthony since his first Halloween when they dressed him as Elvis complete with bedazzled pants and gold sunglasses with sideburns.
“From there it snowballed,” said Deanna Alfano, who focuses on the costumes’ style while Tony Alfano focuses on their construction.
Last year Anthony dressed up as the Lincoln Memorial housed inside a snow globe. Other years Anthony has gone as a hockey goalie, a jockey and Pinocchio.
“He gets it,” Deanna Alfano said of Anthony, a third grader. “He is always so excited.”