MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- One Minnesota boy is learning how the power of the written word can bring two strangers together.
Eight-year-old Braxton Lautizi has people from around the world who want to be his pen pal, and it all started with a request over social media.
The task of learning to read and write is spelled out at Braxton's kitchen table each day. Homework not only helps him expand his written words, but it also adds to a new friendship formed from a single letter.
"Hi Braxton. My name is Braydon. I'm in second grade," Braxton said, as he read a letter from his pen pal.
This initial greeting from a boy in Illinois is typical of pen pal introductions, but it marks the start of a connection with a much greater purpose.
"He understands me," Braxton said. "It's kind of lonely for me but now that I have pen pals, I'm really happy."
Braxton's mom, Molly Lautizi, put out a plea on social media back in October with the hope of finding someone with a similar life experience to Braxton. She asked for a pen pal for her son that is the same age -- and who has the same genetic condition.
"I want someone to understand him on his level and figure it out figure out life together," Molly said. "Being in Hibbing, we're one of the only dwarf families. I know there's a couple of other people around, but they don't have any little kids."
Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare shared the post and the response was immediate, with messages from around the world.
"It was crazy, it blew up and I couldn't believe it," Molly said. "People shared it all over the world we still get response and friend requests."
The letters opened an outlet Braxton cannot always find with his friends in Hibbing.
"I can play those games but I feel left out because I can't run really fast, but I can run," Braxton said.
Molly says her son is popular at school, but still feels different in many situations.
"He has tons of friends but I worry that, you know, I know a lot of things are harder in school and we do a lot of things differently than normal people," Molly said. "It's not that we can't do it, it's just different and I want someone to do those different things with him."
Braxton sent the initial letter, and Braydon quickly wrote back. As Braxton wrote his second letter, he realized that with so much to say, writer's block can sometimes get in the way.
"I have to think," Braxton said.
He also discovered simple introductions eventually lead to a deeper discussion.
"I'm going to say I like sports," Braxton said. "I can't wait to send more stuff to him."
For Braxton, this is more than just a letter; it's a community of shared experience now at his fingertips.
Braxton has also sent letters off to a boy from Sweden and one from Missouri. He hopes to one day meet his new friends in person.
Anyone who is interested in becoming his pen pal can send a message here.
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