‘Trifecta,’ Take Two: Burkhead, Team Jack raise $65K toward brain cancer research

‘Trifecta,’ Take Two: Burkhead, Team Jack raise $65K toward brain cancer research

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Matt Welch - Star Local Media

On Saturday, Plano Senior alum Rex Burkhead and the Team Jack Foundation descended on Clark Stadium in their latest effort to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research, and they weren’t alone.

Thanks to support from the city of Plano and beyond, Burkhead and Team Jack raised $65,000 toward the cause after hosting the second annual Team Jack Trifecta. The three-sport fundraiser, which included a 5K fun run, youth football camp and 3-on-3 adult basketball tournament, improved considerably on the 2017 figure of $40,000 raised.

“It’s awesome, just to see a bunch of familiar faces that came last year, and of course the city of Plano as well,” Burkhead said. “The turnout we had and the support, and not only from Plano because we had people from Oklahoma drive down for this, it’s grown so much since last year and we hope that continues each year.”

Raising awareness about pediatric brain cancer is something that has been near and dear to Burkhead since his college days at the University of Nebraska, dating back to 2011 when he befriended Jack Hoffman, who was diagnosed with the disease at age 5. Since, Burkhead helped launch the Team Jack Foundation, which is dedicated to raising money for research on children’s cancers – an endeavor that has garnered more than $5 million toward the cause.

Burkhead noted that leading up to Saturday’s fundraiser, online registrations for events like the 5K and football camp doubled last year’s turnout. That reflected in the attendance at Clark Stadium, with Burkhead joined by local football alums like Plano’s Carson Meger, Kris Lott and Blake McJunkin, Plano West’s Jackson Jeffcoat and Ameen Behbahani, and Allen’s Cedric Ogbuehi to help show hundreds of kids the tricks of the gridiron trade.

“We had lots of guys who I’ve known for a long time playing high school or in college, and even some NFL guys who I didn’t even know who reached out and wanted to help with the camp,” Burkhead said. “To give their time and use their platform to influence these kids is special.”

Located on the stadium concourse was a silent auction featuring a slew of college and professional sports memorabilia, including apparel like Burkhead’s game-day jersey from Super Bowl LII in February.

In between the camp and hoops tournament, Team Jack founder Andy Hoffman addressed the crowd with a brief presentation focused on the cause at heart for those in attendance.

“We have approximately 4,600 kids diagnosed every year,” Hoffman said to those on hand. “[Burkhead] has taken this disease, the deadliest form of child cancer, and put it on his back, and he’s taken all these families with him. He’s helped put it on the agenda in Nebraska, Plano and really all across the country.”

Saturday’s fundraiser was a benchmark for an otherwise low-key offseason for Burkhead, who has spent plenty of time in his hometown since Super Bowl LII, when his New England Patriots suffered a 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Burkhead will be back in Foxboro, Mass., for the long haul after opting to re-sign with the Patriots on a three-year deal reportedly worth $9.75 million.

“I loved it there. We had a great run last year and it felt right throughout the decision process and free agency,” Burkhead said. “It was something my wife and I thought about and felt like we should be back in Boston.”

Burkhead enjoyed a career year across the board in his first season with the Patriots, tallying 264 rushing yards, 254 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns for the eventual Super Bowl runners-up. Burkhead thrived in late November-early December, at one point scoring touchdowns in four consecutive games before being sidelined by a knee injury for the rest of the regular season and the Patriots' first two playoff games.

Suiting up for Super Bowl LII, Burkhead rushed three times for 18 yards and caught one pass for 46 yards.

“It was a great year and you see why the team has had success in the past, just with the expectations that are placed on players everyday and it helps you compete at such a high level,” Burkhead said. “Coach (Bill) Belichick is such a great coach and understanding on how to put us in the best situation to succeed.”

Still adhering to his usual year-round training regiment, Burkhead’s spring ramps up mid-April for the start of offseason training activities. And as the grind toward the start of the 2018 campaign continues, he and the Patriots won’t have much trouble finding focus for upcoming season.

“We got so close last year and hopefully now we can finish it off,” Burkhead said.

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