By looking at him, you couldn't tell what makes Jackson Tijerina different from other 7-year-old boys. He loves sports and wrestling with his father, and his favourite superhero is Iron Man.
But Jackson is no ordinary little boy: at the age of 4, his family learned that he had brain cancer.
Since being diagnosed, he's been through two years of chemotherapy and has had multiple surgeries, and has displayed a remarkable strength that never ceases to amaze his parents.
"He's a resilient kid, I don't know where he gets his strength and where he finds the energy to go on. He can have a major brain surgery, and two days later, come home from the hospital and want to jump in the swimming pool," his mother explains in an interview with KMTV 3 News Now (watch the sweet video below).
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- Also see: Mom on her son's fight with a rare neurological condition: "A disease that makes you think you are losing your mind"
To receive treatment, Jackson has had a chemotherapy port implanted under the skin on his chest.
"When his doctor put it in, he told him that he would have extra strength from his port because it was just like Iron Man's and it would give him strength..."
The little boy also chose to dress up as his hero for Halloween in 2017.
Wanting to give their little guy a boost, his parents used friends of friends to reach out to Robert Downey Jr, who in turn sent Jackson a video message.
“Jackson, is that you? Hi! It’s Robert Downey Jr., but you can call me Tony. Thinking about you, stay strong, know that my prayers are with you, and also, you know, life is challenging. And you are just the man for the job. So lots of love.”
The actor is no stranger to making seemingly impossible wishes come true. Earlier this year he joined forces with Make-A-Wish Singapore, swearing in 37 children into the 'Avengers Academy', each one battling a life-threatening illness.
Leading them in a special ceremony, Robert asked the children to repeat a superhero oath, "We, the Avengers, will inspire and encourage every child to battle wrongdoers and diseases. This is our solemn oath."
A father himself, the 53-year-old has faced his own battle, conquering a nearly 20-year drug addiction that had all but ended his acting career.
His comeback has been epic, and he's managed to burrow his way into the hearts of fans since taking on the superhero role that has now become iconic.
Among fans of the Marvel franchise there's a well-known rumour that in the role of Tony Stark, Robert is really just playing himself, and we'd say Jackson and the Make-A-Wish kids would more than agree that Robert is not only a hero onscreen, but a real-life one as well.
For more inspiring superhero kids fighting big odds, see Meet the Justice League: these kid superheroes kick butt.
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