Team Jack: Uplifting Athletes
Uplifting Athletes is a national nonprofit organization of university student-athletes who rally around a rare disease to bring awareness and raise funds to support research. It was begun by Scott Shirley, who was stirred by conversation with his college roommate while at Penn State to do something for people with rare diseases. Shirley saw the misfortune that came from unawareness of these diseases, as those bearing them did not receive the funding and support that better-known diseases have garnered.
After being diagnosed with the rare disease pediatric brain cancer, six-year-old Jack Hoffman reached out to Rex Burkhead, running back for the University of Nebraska football team, for an autograph. Not only was he surprised to actually receive the autograph, but Rex took the action a step further and met with Jack in person. Developing that relationship, Rex became a role model in Jack’s life, and influenced his team to choose pediatric brain cancer as their rare disease to support through Uplifting Athletes.
In a University of Nebraska football game, Jack was given the opportunity to run a touchdown for the team, in full uniform. Video footage went viral, earning more than 8 million views. By selling “Team Jack” T-shirts, the team raised $275,000 for research on pediatric brain cancer.
Viral video footage of 6-year-old Jack Hoffman running a touchdown.