- Associated Press - Saturday, May 24, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - When the city needed a hero on a recent Friday, 6-year-old Isai Rojas didn’t ask questions.

He simply dropped his fork, left what little remained of the pancakes and sausage on his plate, and slipped into his personalized shiny gold-and-red, crime-fighting superhero suit.

Then he set about saving this fountain-filled metropolis we call home.

It started with the villain Cucaracha, sleazy even by villain standards. Dressed in a bug-like costume manned by Overland Park standup comedian Randy Burgard, Cucaracha - Spanish for “cockroach” - surfaced early in the morning inside a Mission restaurant, attempting to steal a woman’s purse.

Unfortunately for him, he picked the same Bob Evans that Isai and his family happened to be patronizing.

What happened next, according to witnesses and grainy cellphone photos, is this: Flanked by his parents (Gustavo and Idania Rojas), 7-year-old brother (Aleksei) and 8-month-old sister (Yaretzi), Iron Boy chased the villain away.

But it hardly ended there. That incident kicked off an adventure that - thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Missouri, which helped facilitate the creation of “Muchacho de Hierro” - would span eight hours, two states and warrant a bundle of media attention.

Here was a hero, after all, that Kansas City could get behind, much like “Batkid” captured the heart of San Francisco.

This pint-sized kindergartner who likes art and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had battled through a leukemia diagnosis - now in remission - since the age of 2. A superhero secure enough in his self-image to allow his mom, at one point, to assist him in blowing his nose.

And one, it turned out, whose own childhood had prepared him for this moment.

“Cucaracha,” he explained in a manner that suggested mild annoyance, “is just like my brother.”

It was just four years ago, after all, that Isai’s Shawnee parents, concerned with the random bruising and loss of appetite from which their son suffered, took him to a local hospital. A spinal tap would confirm leukemia. The diagnosis left his parents in confused disbelief and launched a grueling stretch of procedures, chemo sessions and doctors visits.

“When you’re not informed about a disease, you’re not expecting that leukemia can happen to one of your family members,” said his father, Gustavo Rojas. “It takes some time to understand what’s going on.”

Eventually, Make-A-Wish stepped in, as it had in November for San Francisco’s Miles Scott, another leukemia sufferer in remission.

“We do it for the kids,” said Missouri’s brand advancement manager, Kate Fotenos, who was on hand for the festivities. “And being able to see it firsthand just reinforces that.”

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