NORFOLK — An 8-year-old boy with a genetic disorder has signed a letter of intent with the University of Nebraska football team to grant his Make-A-Wish foundation request to be a Cornhusker for a day.
Jack Johnson, a second-grader, signed a letter of intent Tuesday and became an honorary member of the team during a school assembly at Norfolk Catholic High School.
"When you say once-in-a-lifetime experience, that is, in the truest form, what's happening to Jack right now," said his mother Michelle Johnson.
Jack was diagnosed at two weeks old with Menkes disease, which affects distribution of copper in the body and the development of bones and muscles. His father, Eric Johnson, said Jack also has hypotension and loose connective tissue. Although development is often delayed in those who have the disease, Eric Johnson said Jack is cognitively on track with other 8 year olds.
When Jack was 6 years old, he was told by his parents that no wish was too big. After his parents looked into Make-A-Wish, Jack initially hoped to meet Peyton Manning, but changed his mind and made being a Husker his top wish.
He'll get to be an honorary member of the team Saturday and get to take the field with players before watching the home game against Maryland from a skybox.
He will also get to tour the stadium, eat lunch with members of the team and participate in warm-up drills.
Husker Jordan Westerkamp, Jack's favorite player, said it's important for team members to give to kids like Jack.
"It just adds to what I play for," Westerkamp said. "Not only is it because I love the game of football, but it's for kids like Jack. I want to be a role model."
Jack's mother said his younger brother Myles also has Menkes disease, and the family plans to request a wish for Myles within the next few years.