Our cover kid this month is Brady Sanford. This 6-year-old Worthington resident doesn't just look tough: He is tough.

Our cover kid this month is Brady Sanford. This 6-year-old Worthington resident doesn't just look tough: He is tough.

At the age of 4, Brady went to his parents, Dan and Jamie, complaining about a spot on his tongue that hurt when he brushed his teeth. When it also bled, they knew it wasn't something that would go away on its own. But what no one in the medical community - local or national - expected was a diagnosis of synovial sarcoma: It's a rare form of cancer, infamous for developing in professional athletes who have chewed tobacco.

"He's the youngest ever (to have been diagnosed)," recounted his father. "The previous youngest on record was 22 years old."

Very quickly during that February month in 2013, the Sanfords found themselves shuttling between Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Ohio State University Medical Center where Brady underwent 10 hours of surgery to remove the right half of his tongue and replace it with tissue from his left forearm. By July he had completed six rounds of chemotherapy, but was able to avoid radiation treatment.

"In a 4-year-old," said Mr. Sanford, "it would have destroyed his jaw bone and salivary glands."

Today, Brady is healthy and very active, counting recess, gym and then math as his favorite subjects as a first-grader at Evening Street Elementary School in Worthington. His speech is unimpaired and he's happy to demonstrate that his new tongue, marbled with the white of the transplanted tissue, works just fine. He still gets check-ups every six months, but his dad said their goal is "to make it normal as much as possible. He's got no restrictions."

Brady enjoys playing baseball, basketball and soccer, and he recently began skating lessons at the OSU rink, hoping to get as good at skating as his favorite Blue Jacket, Boone Jenner. He also participates in the Heroes program, the Blue Jackets Foundation's pediatric-cancer research fundraising program. It has become the cornerstone project for the Foundation, raising more than $2 million to date in the fight against pediatric cancer, helping tough kids like Brady face whatever challenges life heaves at them.

For more information about the Heroes program, visit bluejacketsfoundation.org.