All little boys have heroes. Super-heroes like Superman and Batman top the list for most young men. But Dillon Kincaid prefers the real life version -- the U.S. Navy SEALs.
From the moment he understood what a SEAL was, he dreamed of joining the elite group of warriors.
"I want to be a SEAL. No doubt about it, that's all I want to be," he told CBN News.
"He wanted to be a Navy SEAL, as long as I can remember and he had already started at 11-years old the Navy SEAL workout program," his grandfather, Ron Kincaid, said.
At one point, Dillon was doing 250 pull-ups a day. When he wasn't working out, he traveled the country, racing motor cross.
An Unexpected Road Bump
But his lofty dream came to a screeching halt when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
"It was almost like I didn't believe them. Like, how could this happen to me?" Dillon recalled.
"It was just a matter of three or four weeks and from being about to do 200 and some pull-ups a day to not being able to open the top of a water bottle himself," his grandfather said.
Along with the cancer, Dillon faced countless infections, receiving more than 80 blood transfusions, radiation on his brain, and numerous surgeries.
"We've spent almost two years straight in the hospital," Dillon told CBN News. "If we did get out, it was only for a day or two, a week if we were lucky."
Doctors told the family Dillon only had a 6 percent chance of survival.
"I thought my whole world was over," Dillon's father, Ryan, said.
"They called us five or six times from the hospital telling us Dillon wasn't going to make it," Ron said.
Navy SEALs to the Rescue
Finally, the family turned to the only people they knew who could put the fight back in Dillon -- the Navy SEALs.
The Extreme SEAL Experience in Virginia invited him to spend a few days at their course. It's a program that gives regular guys a taste of what being a SEAL is like. The instructors are former and active duty SEALs.
Dillon got to leave the hospital and spend time hanging out with his heroes.
"It had an extreme difference in Dillon. He was very excited about it of course," Ron recalled with tears in his eyes.
During his time with the group, Dillon was allowed to fire guns. He was painted in camouflage and taken on simulated missions where he learned hand-to-hand combat.
Finally, the men Dillon looked up to most honored him by making him part of their fraternity. The SEALs presented the 11-year-old with a certificate making him an honorary SEAL.
Proudly draped across Dillon's bed is a flag carried into battle and signed by an elite SEAL team.
"When I was, like, in the hospital and stuff, they actually came to my room. They're awesome people," Dillon said.
A New Lease on Life?
The elite warriors had ignited a flame in Dillon, bringing out his strong will and desire to live.
"Ever since then, he's been like one of the family," Ron said. "They call and talk, and he's got at least seven or eight SEAL buddies. They've really taken him in and it's made a huge difference in his life."
Dillon is now 14 years old and you would never know he has leukemia. He works out twice a day, wrestles competitively and spends a few weeks out of the year hanging out with his Navy SEAL buddies.
"It's been a long battle and it ain't over, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now," Dillon's father told CBN News.
"Don't quit. That's pretty much what it comes down to -- whether or not you're going to quit," Dillon concluded.
Quitting isn't in a Navy SEAL's vocabulary, so Dillon fights on in order to one day have a chance of becoming just like one of his real life super-heroes.
"He said, 'Pop Pop, you know, it's not so bad that I got this," Ron recalled a conversation with his grandson. "And I said, 'What are you talking about?' He said, 'I never realized how many people loved me.'"