Our Namesake - Jack Hoffman

About the Team Jack Foundation & Their Mission to Find a Cure

Our Namesake - Jack Hoffman

Jack Hoffman was born on September 26, 2005 lives in Atkinson, Nebraska (pop. 1,100). He has been a Cornhusker football fan his entire life. In 2010, for Jack's 5th birthday, his parents took him to his first Husker game. His Mom and Dad (Bri & Andy) purchased a Rex Burkhead No. 22 jersey for him, for the game. Jack is no different than any other little boy growing up in the great state of Nebraska–he loves to play sports, ride bike, fish, hunt, and watch Cornhusker football.

Fatefully, on April 22, 2011, Jack was life-flighted to Children's Hospital in Omaha after suffering a life threatening seizure. A subsequent MRI showed a mass in the left temporal lobe of his brain. On May 20, 2011, Jack underwent surgery for the removal of a brain tumor next to his brain stem.  Only a small amount of the tumor could be removed. The remaining tumor was declared inoperable. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall months of 2011, Jack battled the onset of Secondary Epilepsy–a condition brought on by the tumor. During this time, Jack suffered frequent partial seizures, sometimes up to eleven per day. The seizures persisted despite high dosages of two anti-seizure medications.

Specialists at Children's Hospital in Boston were consulted in August 2011. Pediatric Neurosurgeon Liliana Goumnerova indicated that she felt she could safely resect the remaining tumor, and at the same time, achieve seizure relief by using intraoperative electrocorticography. Jack's 2nd brain surgery in 5 months occurred in Boston on October 10, 2011. The surgery went well, as Dr. Goumnerova removed a golf ball sized tumor. Approximately 95% of the tumor was removed, with the exception of a small spot near the brain stem and cerebral artery. Another result of this surgery was the fact that Jack was made seizure free, as well.  Unfortunately, soon after surgery, the remaining "spot" grew aggressively.  Chemotherapy was then commenced.

“Before the second life-threatening brain surgery, the family reached out to the University of Nebraska to see if Jack could meet Rex Burkhead before his surgery.”

Before the second life-threatening brain surgery, the family reached out to the University of Nebraska to see if Jack could meet Rex Burkhead before his surgery. As a result, the University extended an invitation to Jack and his family to make the 4 hour drive to the Stadium. During this September 2011 visit, Rex spent several hours with Jack and his family—giving them a tour, having lunch together, and just hanging out. This one experience evolved into a remarkable friendship between a 6-year old boy and a major college football player. During the 2011 campaign, Rex wore a wristband that said: “Team Jack-Pray.” Rex’s support landed him the Rare Disease Champion Award presented by Uplifting Athletes. Rex’s benevolence has helped place pediatric brain cancer on the national agenda. 

Jack's Mom and Dad are determined to help find an effective cure for pediatric brain cancer. As a result they partnered with CureSearch for Children's Cancer, a national non-profit foundation which funds children's cancer research. In 2012 and winter of 2013, the family was raising money for the "Team Jack Legacy Fund," a designated CureSearch research fund they created.  The family has now taken another step, and with the help of friends and colleagues, they have formed the "Team Jack Foundation." All money raised through the Team Jack Foundation will support pediatric brain cancer research.

Jack is currently on treatment after his tumor started growing again in 2018. His brain tumor has a genetic mutation that can be treated with targeted drugs through a clinical trial. Jack travels to Boston every three months for medications and monitoring, which includes an MRI, ECHO, EKG, x-rays, lab work and an eye exam. These tests monitor the drugs’ effectiveness as well as for side effects. He is tolerating this treatment well and it has kept his brain tumor stable, which means not growing. We are very thankful for stable MRIs, as this is the dream for any brain tumor parent.

Jack continues to deal with epilepsy. He is on two anti-seizure medications, but he still has infrequent complex partial seizures. His providers continue to try to balance seizure control with functionality. These medications also have side effects. Jack takes 22 pills each day and is not able to do all the things his peers can (like drive a car), but he does not complain. He is thankful for all the things he can do.

In the fall of 2019, after consultation with his physicians, Jack was able to join his junior high football team the West Holt Huskies. Wearing the same number (75) as his father and four other Hoffman’s before him, his first snaps as center were emotional and monumental on his path to live a like a regular teenager.