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TD run by 7-year-old voted top Nebraska story

 

(AP Photo/Lincoln Journal Star, Matt Ryerson, File)

FILE - In this April 6, 2013 file photo, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez (3) guides cancer patient Jack Hoffman, then 6, of Atkinson, Neb., down the field for a touchdown play during a special segment dedicated to Hoffman in the second half of the Red-White spring NCAA college football game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. Jack captured the hearts of football fans when, with the help of the players, he ran for a touchdown during an intra-squad game that ended spring football practice earlier this year. The scoring scamper has been replayed on national TV and viewed nearly 8.4 million times on YouTube and was voted by Nebraska editors as the number one story of 2013. (AP Photo/Lincoln Journal Star, Matt Ryerson, File)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A touchdown run by a 7-year-old boy with cancer has been voted by Associated Press newspaper and broadcaster members as the top Nebraska news story for 2013.

The 69-yard scamper by little Jack Hoffman occurred during the spring intrasquad game. Jack's pluck and the players' aid captured the hearts of Nebraska football fans and people who saw a YouTube video that's received nearly 8.4 million viewings. The video was played over and over on national television and it won an ESPY award as the "Best Moment."

In October Jack's father, Andy Hoffman, said an MRI test showed that the cancer was in remission. The encouraging news was tempered by warnings from the boy's doctors, his dad said: More than half of all kids in Jack's situation have relapses.

Finishing second in the voting was the resignation of Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy after revelations that he made thousands of calls to women other than his wife on a state-issued cellphone. The calls were revealed after the Omaha World-Herald reviewed his phone records.

University of Nebraska Regent Lavon Heidemann was sworn into office as the state's 39th lieutenant governor less than two weeks after Sheehy resigned. The former state senator had to vacate his seat on the university's governing board.

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns' decision to not seek a second term finished third in the voting. He announced Feb. 18 that he would not run for re-election in 2014, saying he wanted a "quieter time" to focus on his family following a busy political career that included stints as governor and President George W. Bush's agriculture secretary. Republican candidates to replace him include Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale, Omaha attorney Bart McLeay, former Nebraska State Treasurer Shane Osborn and Midland University President Ben Sasse.

No Democrat has yet publicly declared his or her candidacy. Jim Jenkins, a central Nebraska cattle rancher, is running as a nonpartisan candidate, but he previously identified as a Democrat.

Fourth place in the AP members' voting was the October blizzard that decimated cattle herds in western Nebraska ranching country.

Finishing fifth was the confirmation of former Nebraska U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel to become secretary of defense in the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama.

The tornado that struck the northeast Nebraska community of Wayne in early October finished sixth in the voting. The twister caused millions of dollars in damage and several dozen jobs at a mattress pad company that has chosen not to reopen its damaged plant. No one died in the storm, and the injuries reported were minor.

Two stories tied for seventh in the AP voting: The decision to build a new Central Nebraska Veterans Home in Kearney got the same number of votes as the arrest of an Indiana doctor in the slayings of four Omaha people tied to a Creighton University medical school program.

The doctor, Anthony Garcia, had been fired from the program more than a decade ago. He is charged with fatally stabbing Thomas Hunter, the 11-year-old son of Creighton University pathologist William Hunter, and the family's housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman, in 2008. Garcia also is charged in the May deaths of Creighton pathologist Roger Brumback and his wife, Mary.

The state's decision to replace the outdated Grand Island home with a new facility in Kearney was greeted with howls from Grand Island. A Grand Island/Hall County group has prepared its own proposal for upgrading the Grand Island home and says it could save 40 percent of the state's proposed cost.

In eighth place on the AP members' list was the Keystone XL pipeline. In January the governor approved a pipeline route through the state. The Obama administration is still considering whether to approve the project.

No. 9 in the balloting was the looming governor's race. Gov. Dave Heineman must step down after next year because of term limits. The race has taken a series of surprising turns. Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy and Falls City businessman Charles Herbster withdrew from the Republican race, following former Speaker Mike Flood, who bowed out last year. State Sen. Annette Dubas dropped out of the Democratic primary. Remaining in the primary contests are six Republican candidates and one Democrat.

The fate of the Nebraska football team finished 10th in the voting. The Huskers finished a disappointing regular season at 8-4, plagued by injuries and miscues. Head coach Bo Pelini kept his job, though, with a vote of confidence from the athletic director.

 

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