Spending Christmas on the ward is a miserable prospect, but one 15-month-old cancer sufferer is looking on the bright side, by fighting his illness as a superhero.
Toddler Victor Skaro has earned the nickname "Valiant Vito" for his ever-present smile on the ward of the Children's Hospital of Minnesota in Minneapolis, despite suffering from a medulloblastoma – a type of brain tumour.
And this December 25th, Vito's heroic battle went national, with Today.com reporting he donned a Superman cape – one of many superhero capes that has been made for his family – and was pictured holding a sign reading "All I want for Christmas is to be cancer free."
His parents have launched an appeal for donations to help cover his medical bills and asked people to make a contribution or send messages of support in a Christmas card.
The community responded, with the Skaro family, of Waconia, Minnesota, saying on the Valiant Vito Facebook page that they had received more than 500 cards from well-wishers, all of which they opened on Christmas Day.
What's more, the people of Waconia went above and beyond to ensure this truly was a Christmas to remember, by donating gifts to the family for Vito and his three brothers, according to the New York Daily News.
The GoFundMe page set up for Vito meanwhile has so far raised more than $5,000 against a target of $50,000.
"The Skaro Boys had an amazing Christmas they will never forget. We could have never given them a Christmas like this. Vito is having a wonderful day today," his mother Nicole said on Facebook.
The cape worn by Vito was designed by local seamstress Kristi Fritsvold, NBC 11 reports, who made several for the family as Christmas presents last year. Her latest creation is a Thor cape, which was given to the family this Christmas.
His brothers, two of whom have their own health issues, gave their capes to Vito to don while in hospital, the NY Daily News notes.
The outpouring of support could not come at a better time for the family, who will get the result of his next scans on December 31 to find out if his tumor has shrunk, or whether he will require more aggressive treatment in the New Year, NBC 11 notes.
Vito was diagnosed in August, after his mother took him to hospital thinking he was suffering from a viral cold, his GoFundMe website says.
According to the American Brain Tumor Association, a medulloblastoma is a "fast-growing, high grade tumor", and that 70 percent of children with the condition are diagnosed under the age of 10.
Treatment includes the surgical removal of the tumor, radiation and then chemotherapy.