When the New York Giants take the field on Thursday night, the focus for head coach Tom Coughlin will be greater than football.
In recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Coughlin’s charity, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, will be encouraging fans to support families in their community who are dealing with pediatric cancer.
“When a child has cancer, it really affects the entire family,” Coughlin tells PEOPLE. “Everyone in the family needs support – emotional, financial, logistical. It’s something that people don’t always think of, and there are so many families who need help.”
At the game, Coughlin will host 8 families of pediatric cancer patients. Before the kickoff, one patient from Hackensack University Medical Center will join the captains of the Giants and Washington Redskins for the opening coin toss ceremony.
But Coughlin is adamant that helping families affected by childhood cancer isn’t solely about sending patients to sports games and One Direction concerts – although that’s a part of his charity’s outreach. Coughlin says it’s about giving practical support to these families as they maneuver their daily struggles.
“There are families who need help every single day. Meals, driving the other kids to school, or just moral support. No one should have to fight this disease alone.”
For the campaign, Coughlin encourages people to use the hashtag #BETHERE on social media profiles as they help the families.
Among the celebrities who have pledged their support: Barbara Bush, who wrote a touching blog post about how childhood cancer affected her family.
Next up: the Foundation’s Champions for Childrens Gala, where celebrities and sports stars will gather to raise funds for the families.
“We hope our efforts will increase awareness,” says Keli Coughlin, Executive Director of the foundation. “We thank the Giants’ coaches and organization for their support of the families who are dealing with the unthinkable.”
Learn more about the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation in the video above.