A 4-year-old New Jersey boy battling a rare, terminal disease was made an honorary fireman and police officer Thursday as hundreds from his community looked on.

AJ Gonzales was diagnosed with Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive (FOP), which is an incurable genetic condition that causes his body to produce additional, unnecessary bones where they don’t belong, MyFoxPhilly.com reported. The extra bones distort his frame.

“He doesn’t really understand much,” Kristi Gonzales, AJ’s mother, told MyFoxPhilly.com. “He understands that he is in pain, that there are extra bones growing and that he can’t play like a lot of other kids. We have taught him to think that it’s his superpowers,” she said.

In keeping with the superhero theme, AJ’s supporters donned “AJ’s Avengers” t-shirts at the ceremony held at the Bellmawr Municipal Building. The mayor declared May 29, 2015, “AJ Gonzales Day.”

“We are forever grateful for every single one of you,” Kristi told supporters, according to MyFoxPhilly.com.

“My hope is that he can just be a kid. If there is a cure in the future, that’s great. I just want him to be a kid,” Rico Gonzales, AJ’s dad, told MyFoxPhilly.com.

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