Jack Hoffman, the Nebraska boy who captured national attention after running a ceremonial 69-yard touchdown during a University of Nebraska spring football game earlier this month, visited the White House today.
The 7-year-old, who is battling pediatric brain cancer, met with President Obama for about 15 minutes in the Oval Office.
The White House invited the Hoffman family after a video of Jack’s touchdown became an online sensation, drawing nearly 8 million views on You Tube. One of those viewers was President Obama, who talked with Jack about his long touchdown run and his fight with cancer.
In an interview with ABC News, Jack said the visit to the White House was the highlight of a weekend tour of Washington. The president signed a Nebraska football for him.
“It was almost like being the president,” Jack said of his walk through the West Wing and his time in the Oval Office. Jack lives with his family in Atkinson, Neb., a small town about four hours from Omaha. He’s been featured on ESPN, and his picture is now on a football trading card.
His charity, Team Jack, is trying to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. Andy Hoffman accompanied his son on the trip to the White House. He feared the Boston Marathon bombing would cause the trip to be canceled.
“It was really a dream come true for all of us,” Andy Hoffman told ABC News. “The president helped us today to put pediatric brain cancer on the national agenda. The awareness that he brings to the disease with that kind of a visit means the world to us and our family.”
The Hoffmans were accompanied at the White House by Rex Burkhead, a former Nebraska running back and a sixth-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals, who has led the Team Jack cause.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Burkhead said. “It was just awesome to see President Obama and his interest in Jack.”
The idea for the meeting was conceived during a White House dinner earlier this month with Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., who mentioned Jack’s story to the president. The White House followed up with an invitation to the Hoffmans. Jack, who suffered epileptic seizures, has endured two surgeries. An MRI showed a tumor growth near the stem of his brain, so he has been receiving six-hour chemotherapy treatments every week.
A few hours after meeting the president, Jack was grinning as he recounted his visit. “He asked me how I’m doing, and that kind of stuff,” Jack said.
Jack also went searching for the president’s dog. He said, “We didn’t see Bo, but we got pictures of him.”