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Benefit to raise money for child abuse victim Saturday

By Staff | Dec 18, 2008

Kaydin is a miracle,” declared his aunt, Sheri Prange of Sanibel.

Little Kaydin Matheisen has been making headlines since Oct. 19 after he suffered a near-fatal blow to his skull reportedly at the hands of his father’s girlfriend. The alleged attacker said that she was “
addicted” to abusing her 2-year-old stepson after arriving at Health Park in Fort Myers, seeking help for the badly battered toddler.

They said that he had only a five percent chance of making it alive to St. Petersburg that night,” recalled Prange, as she fought to hold back tears. “He was unresponsive. He wasn’t breathing.

Kaydin’s case attracted national attention when police investigating the

case called it the worst case of child abuse they had ever seen.

Prange and her husband, Johnny Costanzo (who owns Johnny’s Pizza on Palm

Ridge Road), have been caring for Kaydin since he was released from All

Children’s Hospital on Thanksgiving Day with a permanent shunt in his brain.

He’s walking and talking and smiling again, and I thank God that I’ve been given the opportunity to make my nephew’s life right,” said Prange, her voice breaking again.

Kaydin, who is the son of Prange’s brother, Shane “
Ace” Lewis, must wear

a helmet to shield his skull from any further trauma.

He’s missing a part of his skull,” she explained. “They’re preserving his skull at the Children’s Hospital, and then he’ll have more surgery in six months or so to re-create the missing portion.

Prange said that only eight weeks after the near-fatal blow, Kaydin is doing remarkably well, despite an initially grim prognosis.

They told us he likely wouldn’t walk or talk for six months or so, and he’s doing both now,” she said. “They didn’t think he was going to survive at all.

In addition to caring for their own child and Kaydin, Costanzo and Prange have now taken in Lewis’s other child with Kunz, as well as Kunz’s child from another relationship.

I’ve got four kids here in my tiny two-bedroom house, ages 1, 2, 3 and 5,” said Prange during a phone interview on Monday, her voice raising so she could be heard above the din in her home. “It’s crazy sometimes.

Although Medicaid will pick up the cost of Kaydin’s hospitalization and ongoing therapies and surgeries, Costanzo and Prange are having a hard time making ends meet with all these unexpected children in their home.

We’re doing the best we can, but we’ve got a tiny business and a tiny home, and it’s difficult at times,” she added.

In an effort to help Prange and Costanzo with Kaydin’s expenses, a benefit fundraising event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 20 beginning at 4 p.m. at the American Legion Post 123, located at 4249 Sanibel-Captiva Road, at Mile Marker #3.

Prange is inviting the community to stop by the event to meet little Kaydin, and see for themselves the remarkable progress he has made since October.

It’s a miracle, really,” said Prange.

A Bounce House will be provided for the children’s enjoyment, and pizza will be provided by Johnny’s Pizza. A Silent Auction and 50/50 raffle will be held to raise funds, and entertainment will be provided by Ray & Deb. The Bobby Hutto Band is also slated to perform at 7 p.m.

For more information on the fundraising event, call the American Legion Post 123 at 472-9979.