- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead has won a national award for his work with a young fan battling brain cancer.
Burkhead was named the 2012 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion on Wednesday. He was one of four finalists and won an online voting contest that received more than 76,000 votes (and the rabid Big Red fan base surely didn't hurt his cause).
Last fall, Burkhead struck up a friendship with Jack Hoffman, a 6-year-old from Atkinson, Neb., who had been diagnosed with a rare pediatric brain tumor. Jack's dream was to meet his hero, Burkhead.
Burkhead and his teammates started wearing wristbands last season to honor Jack, and Burkhead kept in touch through phone calls and personal visits.
"Rex is a shining example of a college football player who realizes the position he's in to make a difference," Uplifting Athletes founder and executive director Scott Shirley said in announcing the honor. "The friendship he's forged with Jack Hoffman has inspired Jack and his family with hope. Rex has also brought much-needed attention to a rare disease cause."
Congrats to Burkhead on this honor.
20hMax Olson and Jake Trotter