Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Team Jack Gala raises $460,000 for pediatric brain cancer research



       Mark Schwaninger

 Mar 30, 2019

Because of inclement weather, Dick Vitale was unable to land in Lincoln on the day of the
Team Jack Gala. Dr. Tom Osborne took the audible and ran with it! His message of "tell the
truth, keep your promises, develop a culture where everyone, regardless of stature, feels that
you care about them" was met with deep appreciation and a standing ovation. The Foundation
was grateful to coach Osborne for spending his 82nd birthday at the gala and stepping up
when they needed him.

Despite heavy snowfall on Feb. 23, the Team Jack Foundation held its sixth annual gala at Lincoln’s Embassy Suites and raised approximately $460,000 for pediatric brain cancer research, making the 2019 event the largest to date.
Guests from across the state, and even nation, attended the annual event in Downtown Lincoln. Super Bowl champion and Team Jack board member Rex Burkhead welcomed the crowd, followed by the invocation by Ron Brown, director of player development for Nebraska football.
Rick Allen, a Grand Island native and NBC NASCAR announcer, handled the event’s emcee duties for the second consecutive year and added his auctioneering skills to call the live auction. Joining him during the auction was former Husker and current Buffalo Bill Jeremiah Sirles.
To give those in attendance an update on the research investments made by the Foundation, Brianna Hoffman, Team Jack co-founder and scientific advisory committee member, detailed the Team Jack projects. To date, the Foundation has committed $8 million to eight projects, both nationally and regionally. For more details on Team Jack’s research investments, visit
Dr. Jonathan Schwartz, pediatric neuro-oncologist from UNMC/Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, followed up Hoffman's update with specifics on the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program in Omaha. The Team Jack Foundation has committed $6.5 million to this program to help make Omaha a center of excellence for families affected by pediatric brain cancer.
The Team Jack Foundation announced Mark and Karen Carson and Fat Brain Toys as the 2018 Teammate of the Year Award recipient. In addition to Fat Brain Toys being the Gala Presenting Sponsor for the fourth straight year, it also presented a $22,209 check to Team Jack from its annual “Round Up for Team Jack” campaign, which gives online shoppers an opportunity to round up one dollar for Team Jack at the time of checkout.
Each year, a highlight of the gala is to feature a child that has been affected by brain cancer. This year, presented by The Home Agency, the Spotlight story featured Nathan Waggoner, who passed away in 2010 at age 17 from DIPG, the deadliest form of pediatric brain cancer. The Home Agency and the Jim and Sharri Baldonado Family presented the Waggoner family a check in the amount of $50,000 to Team Jack in Nathan’s memory.
Following this emotional and impactful moment, the Foundation announced a new research project commitment of $150,000 to Dr. Richard Phillips at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City for DIPG research. The project focuses on a new drug delivery method that would lead to new treatments for kids with DIPG and potentially other types of tumors as well. A video of Dr. Phillips shared the project summary with the guests.
The Team Jack Husker Alumni chapters (composed of former Huskers) generously donated $31,000 to the Team Jack Foundation this year. Presenting the check on behalf of the alumni chapters were Jeremiah Sirles (Buffalo Bills), Spencer Long (Buffalo Bills), Brent Qvale (New York Jets), Zach Sterup (Miami Dolphins), Rex Burkhead (New England Patriots), Brett Maher (Dallas Cowboys) and other former Huskers. These former Huskers continue to embrace the local families affected by the disease and use their platform to help raise significant awareness for pediatric brain cancer.
For more details on The Team Jack Foundation, see You can also follow The Team Jack Foundation on and on Twitter: @TeamJack

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