Andy Hoffman ran the Boston Marathon in 2014.
The lawyer from Atkinson was entered as a charity runner, a participant who didn’t necessarily make the time trial for the famed race but was running for a cause.
That spring day, the father of three dedicated each mile to a child with brain cancer. Name after name after name for 25 miles.
And then he ran the last mile for one last cancer patient, his young son Jack.
Andy died March 1. He was 42. Seven months earlier, in a heartache hard to fathom, the father of three and the co-founder of the Team Jack Foundation had been diagnosed with brain cancer, too.
“Andy was our fearless leader who loved his family with all his heart,” the foundation announced on Twitter that Monday. “Andy, we love you & we promise to honor your legacy by fighting harder than ever for kids.”
There’s an easy way we can honor that legacy, too.
The annual Husker Football Road Race. It’s coming up on Sunday. Father’s Day. A 1-mile fun run for $25 or a 5K race for $30. A free T-shirt. A chance to spy your favorite Husker football player.
Andy’s widow, Bri Hoffman, will be there — like always — with their kids, Jack and Ava and Reese.
“We’ve been to every road race,” Bri says. “I can remember thinking there would probably be five players there, but it was the whole team and it was amazing.”
Every year, Andy stood before the runners and talked about the work of the foundation. A Nebraska family talked too, sharing the story of their child and cancer.
This is the race’s ninth year.
The Lincoln Track Club works with the Husker Life Skills Department to coordinate the race. The Home Agency, a Nebraska-based insurance company, sponsors it so that every dollar goes straight to pediatric brain cancer research at UNMC’s Buffett Cancer Center — nearly $150,000 and counting.
The Hoffman bond with the Big Red is long and deep.
Jack was 5 when he had a life-threatening seizure that led to his cancer diagnosis in 2011.
Jack, like his father, was a Husker fan. And running back Rex Burkhead — No. 22 — was his favorite Husker.
“Andy reached out to the Life Skills Department before Jack’s second surgery and asked for a picture with Rex,” Bri remembered.
Come to Lincoln, the athletic department told them.
“We met Rex and had a tour and ever since we’ve been connected.”
The connection took on a life they couldn’t have imagined when the parents watched their son squirt past defenders during the Husker Spring Game in 2013 and run 69 yards for a touchdown that tugged at the heart of a nation.
The Team Jack Foundation was in the spotlight, too, and much-needed money for research and education came pouring in.
Jack is 15 now. He’s in remission, scheduled for an MRI on Friday.
He’ll run the 1-mile fun run. So will Reese, 10. Ava, 13, will run with her and then onto the 5K with Mom.
Andy was always athletic, but he took up running with a passion after Jack’s diagnosis, Bri says.
He put in miles on the Cowboy Trail after work and the occasional longer training run on the highway outside Atkinson.
He ran a half-dozen full marathons and he and Bri put in 26.2 miles together in the Twin Cities Marathon a few years back, the husband slowing down to match his wife’s pace and encourage her along the way.
They are looking forward to coming to Lincoln on Father’s Day, Bri said.
They will wear shirts with a message.
Maybe the “Twice the Fight” shirts named for the ESPN show that featured the father and son in December.
Or the shirts Bri’s niece designed that say, “If God opens a door, run through it,” a line from the book Andy wrote about the family’s journey.
Or a Team Jack shirt, the foundation that has raised more than $8 million on its way to making Andy’s mission come true.
“Anything that supports the foundation is something Andy would want us to do,” Bri said. “He was so motivated and so passionate about this cause. He would be excited about us going.”
And his widow would be excited to see you there, too, joining the fight.
Furthering a father’s legacy.
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Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @TheRealCLK