Disfigured 11-year-old boy finds joy in dancing and drawing, ins - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Disfigured 11-year-old boy finds joy in dancing and drawing, inspiring those around him

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Walking up to Aleazia Caldwell's home, he could not wait to ask me my favorite TLC song. "Scrubs!" I replied. As fast as he could, he slammed the CD into his boom box, set up on the porch of his home on 32nd street in Louisville's west end.

The 11-year-old busted out a full-blown dance performance.  "Ever since I could remember he's loved to dance," said Marilyn Benge, Caldwell's mother.

"The way you'll think is, 'poor thing,' and he's like...'I'm Michael Jackson!'" laughed Sonny Fishback, a family friend. "You see to him, he's a normal little 11-year-old guy, honestly. What he sees everyday is that image. He's seen it all his life, so it became normal to him."

The image he's talking about, is the condition Caldwell was born with: cystic hygroma. Tumors engulf his face and cause swelling. He cannot close his mouth, and often has ulcers inside. The 11-year-old is sometimes hard to understand as he speaks through a trach.

Fishback remembers the day he met Aleazia Caldwell and his mom, Marilyn Benge. "I wanted to ask that so bad what happened. But before I could do that, he was so jolly, he started doing a Michael Jackson dance!" he recalled. "He didn't miss a beat. The man can dance, he tells you little jokes and stories make you go huh? at 11-years-old, he's brilliant honestly."

"Michael Jackson, I look like him. with the hair," Caldwell said confidently.

He dances at home, but when he is in the hospital for weeks at a time, he draws. "He's used to only going to the hospital twice a year. He's been in there 4 times already. Twice within the last two months," said his mother.

From their home on 32nd street in west Louisville, Aleazia and his mom often get to the hospital using her electric wheelchair. At the hospital, he gets IV antibiotics to combat swelling, and ulcers in his mouth lasered. 

Five different doctors have said there are no more options for surgery. "He might not survive the surgery. Second things is, he's got a bunch of pin size tumors in here, they said if it would hit one of those nerves in there, he probably it would affect his eyes," his mother explained. "When they got to the third one, I said he's fine the way he is. I love him the way he is. 

The good Lord above has put him here for a reason."  The third reason broke Benge's heart. "They said if they hit one of the nerves, he might not smile again. And he's got too beautiful a smile for anything to happen to it."  "I don't know with this from one day to the next what's going to happen with him."

Caldwell says his friends miss him when he is at the hospital. But he has a message to the mean kids: "It doesn't hurt my feelings, they going to hurt themselves. But you be nice to me. So talk to the hand. Walk on."

Caldwell has two wishes. He wants to meet Tyler Perry. "He's crazy, he's stupid. Madea's crazy." said Caldwell. He also wants to go to Disney World.

"To get out of town, get out of Louisville. Like far far away from Louisville," said Caldwell. "I never went to Disneyland. And I heard it's a lot of fun."

Fishback has organized a fundraising gospel concert for his new friend. "So I made up my mind then, this little light of mine, I can't do much, but I can probably get him to Disney World." said Fishback.

For a kid who's so full of joy--and makes so many people smile--he deserves a trip to the "happiest place on earth." "It's his time to be a kid," said his mother.

"I don't think he really knows what's going on, because he's really happy," said Fishback.

The fundraising concert is Sunday, Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. at King Solomon Church, 1620 Anderson Street, Louisville, KY 40210.

Update: At the fundraiser on Oct. 5, community members announced they'd raised enough money to send Aleazia to Disney World.

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