By Anita Oh

Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook  | Twitter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nicky Rutherford’s road has been tough.

But as Eagles safety Tre Sullivan learned, the third-grader from Collegeville is tougher.

“The kid never frowned, he never held his head. His strength is amazing. He’s a young boy and he’s stronger than men and women out there today,” Sullivan said.

In January, doctors diagnosed Nicky with grade 4 glioblastoma, cancer of the brain.

Then came another blow.

Shortly after his ninth birthday, Nicky lost his superhero: his dad, also an avid Eagles fan. Thanks to The Love Your Melon Fund, he got to meet some of his other heroes at Lincoln Financial Field.

The surprise day in early May started with a limousine ride and Nicky’s personal tour of the stadium, where he met much of the team, including quarterback Carson Wentz.

“And then I got a jersey which has my last name on it,” the boy said.

It’s a badge of honor, the representation of a team that gives back.

“Looking at guys who help me every day, Rodney [McLeod], Malcolm [Jenkins], they’re huge in the community always out doing things not just for themselves but others,” Sullivan said.

Nicky’s collection of moments and snapshots show you can still celebrate life, even if it doesn’t always follow a game plan.

“I look at how he handles things, and I put that into my life,” Sullivan said. “Things will get better. Never hang your head.”

In tremendous loss, Nicky gained a new family, a team of brothers he can count on to always lift him up.

“That’s why we are best friends now,” he said of Sullivan.

Family and friends of Nicky have organized a GoFundMe to help with his medical bills.