Nebraska’s Own

Yesterday, March 1st, was Nebraska State Day….her birthday…154 years old. We lost one of our own yesterday whom had gained national recognition over the last 8 years or so. Most of you non-Nebraskans have no idea where I am going with this. However, those of you who are, are nodding, knowing the great loss we incurred yesterday. In 2011, a 5 year old Nebraska boy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. His name was Jack Hoffman. Given a bleak outlook, his parents, Andy and Bri never gave up trying to fight for a future for their young son. They eventually went to Boston for surgery. Before they left, Andy reached out to Rex Burkhead, who was playing on the Huskers football team at the time. Rex ended up meeting up with them right before they left for Boston and befriended the family, using little Jack as a rallying point on the field and on the sidelines. A year and a half later, Jack was invited to participate in the Red and White Spring game….the Husker scrimmage that has typically 90,000 plus people in attendance. Rex Burkhead had moved on to the NFL at that point (and now plays for the New England Patriots), but Jack donned the #22 jersey which Rex made famous and stepped onto the field. Taylor Martinez, the quarterback at the time, handed the ball to young Jack and the team blocked for him as he ran 69 yards for a touchdown. Both benches were cleared as all the athletes came out onto the field to lift Jack onto their shoulders and carry him around the field. It was an epic moment in Nebraska sports history and that clip brought a lot of recognition to the foundation that Jack’s dad, Andy, co-founded called Team Jack. They were looking to raise money for pediatric brain cancer. Jack and Andy were awarded an ESPY ( like a golden globe for sports folks) and they were invited to the White House to meet then President, Barak Obama. Andy was able to help raise over 8 million dollars in the last decade for Team Jack. Jack, who is now 15, plays football in a small Nebraska town, and is a linebacker, like his dad, Andy was. Jack is in a clinical trial that has kept his brain cancer in remission and he is leading a normal life. His dad, Andy, however, was diagnosed with brain cancer (not the same kind as Jack…but a more rare and aggressive kind) about 7 months ago. Nebraska rallied around him, selling Twice the Fight shirts to raise money for Team Jack. He was being seen at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, but was positive for COVID-19 in February and stopped his chemo to come home and recover from his illness. Although he recovered from COVID, the brain cancer was too aggressive for him to battle. He died at home yesterday, on Nebraska State Day. He was 42. There small national news articles about Andy that are going around today. For those of us in Nebraska whom have watched this man give everything he has for the children of the world suffering from brain cancer, the word was out within hours of his death. My heartfelt prayers go out to his family, and all who knew him….and that is a lot of people. One more person I hope to meet in Heaven….

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