Student Well-Being

7-Year-Old Cancer Patient Runs for Touchdown in Nebraska Scrimmage

By Bryan Toporek — April 08, 2013 2 min read
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Ready to start your week with goosebumps?

During the spring scrimmage of the University of Nebraska’s football team this past weekend, 7-year-old Jack Hoffman, who has brain cancer, became a national sensation by stepping onto the field and running 69 yards for the final touchdown of the day.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Hoffman ran onto the field to take a handoff from quarterback Taylor Martinez on fourth-and-short. Hoffman started running to his left before Martinez had him reverse course, sending him behind a bevy of blockers on his way to the end zone.

Both Nebraska benches cleared to run behind Hoffman as the 60,000-plus crowd exploded in cheers. When Hoffman crossed the goal line, Nebraska players lifted him on their shoulders to thunderous applause.

Check out the play below, via the HuskerAthletics YouTube channel:

Saturday’s events were a long time in the making. Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead, a senior who’s preparing for the NFL draft, befriended Hoffman back in the fall of 2011, according to Burkhead started wearing a “Team Jack” bracelet in honor of Hoffman, and in return, Hoffman took the field on Saturday in Burkhead’s No. 22 jersey.

Nebraska’s football-operations director, Jeff Jamrog, and fullback C.J. Zimmerer hatched the plan to get Hoffman on the field on Saturday, according to Jamrog phoned the family the day before the game to inform them about the plan.

“Today was another ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’ for our son,” Jack’s father, Andy, said to after the game. “Coach Pelini is world class. Truly there are no words to describe what this means to Jack and our entire family. Watching Jack run ahead of both teams towards the north end zone, I was absolutely overcome with emotion. Our heart overflows with gratitude for what Coach Pelini and his staff have done for our son. It truly means the world.”

Jack was diagnosed with a brain tumor back in the spring of 2011 and underwent a series of surgeries that year, according to his website. On April 27, 2012, he began 60 weeks of chemotherapy, which will continue until the middle of this year.

According to an update posted by his father this past week, Jack’s tumor has “shrunk substantially” since starting the treatments.

It’s difficult to imagine a better way to celebrate such great news than by scoring a touchdown for your favorite football team in front of 60,000 screaming fans. Kudos to the University of Nebraska football team for giving one child a memory he’ll cherish for a lifetime.


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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.