11th Annual Team Jack Gala Raises Over $720,000 for Childhood Brain Cancer Research

Mar 6, 2024 | Blog

Jack Hoffman

Jack Hoffman, welcomes the Gala attendees.

Lincoln, Nebr. – The 11th Annual Team Jack Gala presented by Fat Brain Toys, held on February 24, was a huge success raising over $720,000* for childhood brain cancer research. This incredible outcome can be attributed to the collective efforts of many! The event began with former Husker and NFL lineman, Jeremiah Sirles, welcoming the Foundation’s namesake, Jack Hoffman, to the stage. Jack welcomed the crowd and then invited Rex and Danielle Burkhead to give the invocation. Rick Allen, lead race announcer for NASCAR on NBC, took the stage to emcee the event for the sixth year.


Fat Brain Toys

Mark & Karen Carson of Fat Brain Toys with brain cancer fighters, Claire Bennett and Emersyn Arterburn.

The presenting sponsor, Fat Brain Toys’ Co-Founders, Mark & Karen Carson shared a light-hearted video relating outdated treatments to phone books, a Walkman, and VCR and cassette tapes. Their message was that nobody would be satisfied with 30-year-old technology today so we should not settle for the toxic archaic brain cancer treatments that children receive. They presented a $130,000 check to brain cancer heroes, Emersyn Arterburn and Claire Bennett who accepted it on behalf of the Team Jack Foundation. Of this donation, nearly $60,000 came from their Round Up for Team Jack program on their website.


The Foundation was honored to have Dr. Samuel Blackman, the Founder of Day One Biopharmaceuticals, in attendance at the Gala. This year, Day One was the Team Jack Teammate of the Year Award Sponsor. Day One purchased a clinical trial drug, tovorafenib (formerly TAK580 and Day101), that was heavily invested in by Team Jack Foundation starting back in 2015. He shared exciting news that the FDA will make a decision on approval of tovorafenib by the end of April. If approved this would be the first FDA-approved therapy ever developed specifically for childhood brain cancer.


Dr. Blackman

Dr. Samuel Blackman from Day One Biopharmaceuticals

“Were it not for the research at Dana Farber that Team Jack helped support ten years ago, TAK580 would have been discontinued in 2018, and a potential life-saving treatment would have never seen the light of day. Your support of pediatric brain cancer research through the Team Jack Foundation helps fund the discoveries that allow us to improve the odds of drugs entering development. The hundreds of children who have been treated with tovorafenib over the last five years are living proof,” Dr. Blackman said.


Applied Connective

Applied Connective Technologies with their Team Jack Teammate of the Year Award

At the close of his speech, Dr. Blackman presented the Team Jack Teammate of the Year Award to longtime Team Jack partner, Ed Knott of Applied Connective Technologies. This company, with locations in Albion, Lincoln, Columbus, and Norfolk, has supported Team Jack since the very beginning not only with donations, but also in-kind support. They have powered the annual Team Jack Radiothon since 2013.


The Spotlight Story, sponsored by The Home Agency, featured the late Jimmy Moran from Omaha, Nebr. Jimmy passed away in 2022 at age ten from DIPG, a type of brain cancer with a 0% survival rate. The Home Agency, and the Jim and Sharri Baldonado Family, donated $50,000 to Team Jack in memory of Jimmy. Nick Moran, Jimmy’s father, delivered a passionate and purposeful message about perspective and the tremendous need for research.


“Funding should not have to fall on the families, but it does. We have accepted our role in this fight. We will do whatever

Nick and Pam Moran

Nick and Pam Moran, parents of the late Jimmy Moran

we can to make sure no other family has to go through what we went through, and no other kid has to suffer the way that Jimmy did. Do your best to ‘be happy for no reason’,” Nick said.


The Keynote Speaker for the event was former San Francisco 49er and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Bryant Young joined by his wife, Kristin. The Youngs lost their fifteen-year-old son, Colby, to brain cancer in 2016. Bryant’s message was one of strength and hope that one day there will be a world without sick children.


Bryant Young

Pro Football Hall of Famer, Bryant Young, giving the keynote speech

“Together with sponsorships, donations, robust live and silent auctions, the outcome of the event far exceeded our expectations. It proved that fighting childhood brain cancer is a team effort. Every donation, every bid, every moment of support brings us one step closer to better treatments and, one day, a cure. This year’s event was pivotal in advancing our mission to fund impactful childhood brain cancer research, raising over $720,000 in just one evening. Thank you to everyone who was part of this event for your incredible support – together, we are making a difference in this fight,” said Kylie Dockter, Team Jack Foundation Executive Director.


*Includes $12,482.50 inkind value from Certified Piedmontese Beef | 2024 Meal Sponsor