A nation fell in love with Jack Hoffman when he dashed into the hearts of millions, running 69 yards during the University of Nebraska's Spring Game in Lincoln. The video of him scoring a touchdown has been viewed 8,000,000+ times on YouTube!
What's even more amazing? This incredible youngster did this while in treatment for brain cancer. Upper Deck has a Jack Hoffman Rookie card available commemorating the run with all sale proceeds benefiting the "Team Jack Foundation."
I had the opportunity to go in-depth with Jack's Dad, Andy, just in time for Father's Day this weekend. I was tearing up while trying to make notes on this sensational story.
Jack just completed chemo treatment #47 of a series of 48 prescribed over a 60-week period. When asked what the celebration plans are after chemo is done, Andy Hoffman said, "That's a good question. There are a lot of milestones along the way." After personally fighting stage four cancer myself with three years of ongoing chemo. (This led me to start "Cancer with JOY.") I could certainly relate to that! Andy said they were given a great piece of advice by New York Giants Mark Herzlich's Mom: "Don't let your highs get too high, and don't let your lows get too low."
Certainly, one recent high moment for Jack was meeting President Barack Obama. Andy said there were several "best parts" of meeting the President, but that hearing his thoughts on Neuroscience was the most rewarding.
They also heard about the Brain Initiative. Andy said that when the President looked at Rex (Burkhead, University of Nebraska standout who was just drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals) and thanked him for all he had done for Jack and the cause, it was a "heartfelt thank you."
NFL.com stated "There's a lot to like about Rex Burkhead." While this was stated in a context as he prepared for the 2013 NFL Draft, that's an easy statement to agree with, as I heard about the tremendous character of this young man and what Rex's friendship to Jack has meant during this challenging time. That continued friendship with Burkhead has been "very uplifting for Jack during treatment." Andy stated Jack, "wants to be strong for Rex." While Rex and Jack's very special relationship has them keeping in touch more often than weekly ("Rex is so incredibly gracious"), other members of the University of Nebraska's highly decorated and respected football program have also gotten involved. A visit to the "Team Jack Foundations" online store found t-shirts also available from Husker Head Football Coach Bo Pelini, Husker stand-out & Detroit Lion Ndamukong Suh, and also WNBA Draftee Lindsey Moore!
Even with all these incredible moments, when I asked Andy about the 'funnest thing' that's happened to them throughout this journey he stated, "Jack is so incredibly blessed with amazing opportunities. The quantity and magnitude of his blessings have been unbelievable. The best parts have been the relationships that you develop along the way, and being involved in a check presentation to Dana Farber ($275,000). That's what this is about."
Andy said a goal of the Team Jack Foundation is to "do the best you can. Raise as much money as you can as fast as you can and get it to the best researchers in the world." He continued: "Our faith has carried us. I don't care how much success you have it all begins and ends there with your faith in Christ." He mentioned Isaiah 43:2 as a favorite and comforting verse: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
When Jack celebrates his next birthday on September 26th, he'll also be taking part in the first National Pediatric Brain Cancer Awareness Day. Andy said they are currently planning a "monster celebration in Atkinson, NE." This will include a silent and live auction to fundraise for the disease, and the "sky's the limit." They are currently in touch with other states' pediatric foundations to get other events going nationally.
On this special day Jack will turn 8. In just 8 years, this youngster has taught some phenomenal lessons about responding to obstacles life throws our way. One of those lessons is sometimes it's the simplest thing that's the best gift of all.
I asked Andy what the best Father's Day gift was Jack has even given him, and after a long and thoughtful pause he replied, "Something irreplaceable. It was Father's Day two years ago and he gave me a hug when he just was just two weeks out from his first brain tumor surgery. It doesn't get better than that."
Find out more about "Team Jack" here .