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By Randy York
In football, it's called acceleration. In track, it's called the finishing kick. In boxing, it's called the last round. Whatever you want to call it, this weekend is Nebraska football fans' last chance to do something really uplifting and vote for Rex Burkhead to receive the 2012 Rare Disease Champion Award. Sponsored by a national Uplifting Athletes organization working with college football players to raise rare diseases as a national priority, the winner of the 2012 award will be announced on Wednesday.
Through his relationship with 6-year-old Jack Hoffman, Burkhead has raised dramatic awareness for pediatric brain cancer. The effects are so far-reaching that Little Jack was the star of a Nebraska football post-practice session last December. That day, in turn, prompted a mom and a dad to get an oil change on their family SUV and take their sick little boy and his little sister on a serendipitous road trip to Nebraska's bowl game in Orlando.
How can anything be more uplifting than that? Unless, of course, you consider how a prominent Dallas sports columnist wrote a Rex-Jack piece that filled a Sunday spread on this uplifting story last month, proving that Rex may have left home for Nebraska, but home did not leave the Plano, Texas, legend. Even ESPN.com included a small story on Rex's nomination for the Champion Award, the benefit, of course, of being an All-Big Ten running back.
Publicity and awareness are great and well appreciated, but this Team Jack and Rex Burkhead story has reached places where few disease-related charities and foundations go. Take the peak moment in Nebraska's nationally televised comeback against Ohio State. Check this YouTube video of that magic moment and see how a rare disease can be elevated to heartfelt caring national concern. Unlike so many other online voting initiatives, I like the integrity of this poll, which allows only one vote per email address. That means if you've already done your duty and voted for Rex, the only thing left for you to do is to send this one last blog in a surge to remind others why it's important to support Rex and Jack's cause.
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