TEAM JACK TRIFECTA

Plano Senior alum Rex Burkhead will host the third annual Team Jack Trifecta on Saturday. The event’s first two years raised more than $100,000 toward pediatric brain cancer research.

In just two years time, Plano Senior alum Rex Burkhead has seen his annual three-sport fundraiser, the Team Jack Trifecta, blossom into something special.

The event’s first two installments raised more than $100,000 toward pediatric brain cancer research, with the former Wildcat and current New England Patriots running back, plus the rest of the Team Jack Foundation, continually thinking of ways to grow and improve the fundraiser.

And as the days tick away toward the third annual Team Jack Trifecta, which takes place Saturday in Plano, the early returns have Burkhead anticipating the event’s best turnout yet.

“To have this be our third year and already seeing the donations and sponsorships coming in and all the people signing up, it’s definitely going to be the biggest year so far,” he said.

The cornerstones of the three-sport fundraiser remain unchanged, offering a 5K fun run and walk at 8 a.m. Saturday at Clark Stadium – which doubles as the site for the event’s youth football camp at 10 a.m. – followed by an adult 3-on-3 basketball tournament at 1:30 p.m. from the PSA 2 Center.

This year’s action on the hardwood won’t just be limited to an afternoon of 3-on-3, with Burkhead debuting a 3-point contest, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at PSA 2 and open to all age groups.

Team Jack has also launched an online auction, which can be accessed through teamjackfoundation.org and includes items like Burkhead’s signed Super Bowl LIII Media Day jersey, autographed jerseys from Dallas Mavericks stars Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic and a seven-night vacation to Costa Rica.

It’s an event Burkhead has seen grow exponentially from its inception in 2017 – citing everything from its organization to the number of people involved and, most of all, the support from the Plano community and beyond.

“It’s great. The cool thing about it is that we have people all over the country making donations and reaching out,” Burkhead said. “We have great support not just locally but across the country as well.”

Burkhead noted that donations and sponsorships have tripled the amount raised from last year’s Trifecta, and that sign-ups for the football camp have already improved over last year’s turnout heading into the final week to register.

Burkhead will be front and center as one of the coaches for the mid-morning youth camp, joined by a cast of professional football standouts for a two-hour instructional – including Plano alum and Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom and Dallas Cowboys Maliek Collins and Jameill Showers.

“Our main focus on that is to have a ton of energy and have a lot of fun with it. Ameen Behbahani, a Plano West grad, does a great job setting the tone early on,” Burkhead said. “We really want the kids to have a great experience and definitely get something out of it.

“We have a lot of guys helping out who played in college and the NFL, so we want it to not just be a fun camp but teach the kids things they can take into their games with their own football teams.”

As the fundraiser grows in scope, so do the ways for people to contribute to its cause – be it by participating in one of the Trifecta’s three events or through helping procure sponsorships or auction items. Through it all, Burkhead hopes the event’s message resonates with everyone involved.

“We want them to understand what we’re fighting for,” Burkhead said. “My brother is going to have pictures of kids who are part of Team Jack or who have pediatric brain cancer and post them up along the 5K route, just to give people a glimpse of these kids’ lives and understand that pediatric brain cancer is a rare disease that needs a lot of funding.

“Whatever way we can get that and make them realize it so they help join the cause.”

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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