MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Maybe it’s superheroes, or maybe it’s dolls. We all know kids can get pretty passionate about their interests.
But a Maple Grove 6 year old has found a unique passion: vacuums.
When WCCO went out to spend some time at Ben Liestman’s house, it took about two seconds to figure out he is not shy.
“It was called the ‘cocktail party syndrome’ for a while,” said his father, Joel Liestman. “There is an incredibly social aspect of it.”
“It” is called Williams Syndrome. It can cause development and heart issues, but that obstacle comes with some powerful advantages.
Kids like Ben are extra friendly and fixate on a subject matter — vacuums, in his case.
“And then it became not just about looking at them. He needed to touch them, then it wasn’t just about touching them, he needed to take them apart,” Joel said
At some point, toys just weren’t enough, and so the family ended up at Osseo Vacuum.
The store mascot, a pup named Jax, and owner Jason Erickson offered a playroom for his passion.
“It’s really cool that he enjoys being here, and we have maybe a future employee,” Jason said.
That’s not so farfetched. Since becoming a regular, he’s sucked up a lot of knowledge.
“He can see a vacuum and know the make and model, or see it from a distance and know it and yeah, I wouldn’t know it, but he does,” Jason said.
He comes day after day, hours on end.
“This is where he would rather come than anywhere else in the world,” Joel said.
What for some is house work is all play for Ben. And it isn’t just about fun to him; it’s therapeutic, helps calm him and improves his dexterity.
“We all think it’s great, there’s no way we’re going to discourage this!” Joel said. “And hey, free cleaning [laughs]!”
Osseo Vacuum gave Ben a Dyson DC24 of his own last weekend for his sixth birthday. Dyson says they also have an extra treat headed his way.