HOUSTON, Texas - Bennett Nester is just three-years-old. Like most little boys, he loves his trains, and his mom.
"He's going through stuff that I can't even fathom at this point," said Brande Nester, Bennett's mother.
Bennett was diagnosed with a brain tumor just before Christmas 2011. At the time, he was given a present by two strangers at the hospital who had lost a sibling to cancer: a little bear, which somehow seemed to take a little bit of the pain away.
"He wouldn't let it out of his sight. It was like his one thing to hold onto," said Brande.
His mother said they knew immediately that this was an act of kindness they must return. Last year, they formed Bennett's Bears and collected 250 stuffed animals to give to sick children at area hospitals. They've collected over 900 bears this year.
"They need something like that. Every child deserves that," Brande said.
A stranger heard about this selfless act, about this three-year-old who, despite his own struggles, wanted to bring comfort to other children. That man, a Vietnam veteran, did not want to be identified; he gave Bennett his Bronze Star.
"He felt like Bennett was just as big a hero as he was; which is amazing," Brande said. "He's done so much for our country. I can't believe he would want to do something like that for my son."
The man had just two conditions for young Bennett: that he must do his best to soldier through his treatment and stick around to help pick another selfless young child to whom the medal can be passed.