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'He's gonna fight': Andy Hoffman, founder of Team Jack, diagnosed with brain tumor

'He's gonna fight': Andy Hoffman, founder of Team Jack, diagnosed with brain tumor

Jack and Andy Hoffman

Andy Hoffman, right, and his son, Jack, in 2019 after Jack’s first junior high football game.

Bri Hoffman didn't have a lot of time to talk. The doctor was coming soon.

She and her husband, Andy, sat in the waiting room at the Mayo Clinic Tuesday afternoon, side by side in a familiar, frustrating fog.

They thought they were clear of all this.

It was nine years ago when Jack Hoffman, their 7-year-old son battling brain cancer, ran 69 yards down the field for a touchdown in Nebraska’s 2013 spring football game. Jack was hoisted onto the shoulder pads of his heroes, an oversized toy helmet jostling around as tears rolled down cheeks in the bleachers of Memorial Stadium and at homes across the country.

The moment earned an ESPY for Best Moment and launched the Team Jack Foundation, which has brought in more than $8.3 million toward pediatric cancer relief.

Jack is now in remission. His head now sprouts hair, trimmed to a buzz cut. He’s heading into his freshman year next fall at West Holt High School in Atkinson, Nebraska.

But Sunday night flipped the Hoffman’s future again.

Andy went out for his usual jog, but had to stop. Something was wrong. He called his wife, and Bri rushed to get him, then drove straight to the emergency room.

An MRI showed a mark in his head. The diagnosis was the same as his son. A brain tumor. Massive.

“Devastating,” Bri said. “Ironic.”

The family researched hospitals and now find themselves at Mayo Clinic in Sioux Falls.

Andy posted the news on Facebook and Twitter. Support has followed.

“Few people epitomize what it means to be a Husker more than (Andy),” the Huskers' Twitter account shared. “Now it’s our turn to support him. Husker Nation is behind you 100% of the way, Andy."

The Hoffman family has been trying to keep up — with the messages, with the new reality.

One thing is clear, Bri said.

“He’s gonna fight. That’s the main theme he’s expressed to everyone here,” Bri said.

He has some examples. His son, for one. Since Jack’s diagnosis, Andy and the Hoffman family founded Team Jack, a foundation to raise money for pediatric brain cancer. That’s put the family in contact with plenty of patients.

“We’ve seen all these other brain tumor kids fighting,” Bri said. “Andy is going to do it, too.”

Asked if there was anything else to add for the story, Bri said no, but Andy motioned for the phone.

He was quiet. When he found his voice, it was broken.

“I just want to say how wonderful my wife is, and kids are,” Andy said. “Bri is a rock. And I’ll do this for her and my kids.”

He trailed off. Collected himself. His wife has done this with their son, and now a husband.

"That speaks volumes about her," he said. “That’s all I gotta say.”

He hung up.

The doctor was coming soon. The next fight for the Hoffman family called. ​


Every Nebraska football spring game since 2000

Omaha World-Herald: Big Red

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Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email: chris.heady@owh.com.

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