In exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, Tim McGraw explains his family's experiences with cancer while advocating for further research

By Justin Curto
July 01, 2019 08:00 AM
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Tim McGraw is continuing to advocate for cancer research since releasing his song “Live Like You Were Dying” in 2004.

The country singer, 52, is a Stand Up To Cancer ambassador and is starring in a new campaign to encourage fans to “rewrite the skies” in honor of their loved ones, PEOPLE can share exclusively.

The organization is partnering with American Airlines, who is providing the opportunity to add a family member or friend’s name to one of its planes in honor of those who are cancer survivors, currently battling the disease or have died from cancer.

Anyone who makes a donation of $25 or more to Stand Up To Cancer during the month of July can add the name of a person to the American Airlines Airbus A321, which will begin flying in the fall, according to a press release. 100 percent of donations will support Stand Up to Cancer’s collaborative cancer research programs.

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“Every family in America has a cancer story, my own family included. Too many of us have lost our parents, children, spouses and friends to this terrible disease,” McGraw says in a statement. “I’ve been so touched by the stories of the American Airlines team members I’ve met over the past month and I’m honored to lend my voice to this campaign to help create a world where all cancer patients can become long-term survivors and have more time with the people they love.”

In exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from the campaign shoot, McGraw explains his family’s experiences with cancer. His mother and several aunts have faced cancer; his father, baseball pitcher Tug McGraw, died from the disease in 2004.

“That’s a big reason why I’m here,” he says in the clip. “It’s been a part of my family and I want to do everything I can to help find a cure and find a way for people to become long-term survivors.”

The performer is currently writing a book on his own health and lifestyle after cowriting Songs of America with Pulitzer-winning biographer Jon Meacham. He’s worked with Stand Up To Cancer since 2012, when he performed “Live Like You Were Dying” at a telethon for the organization.

To make a donation to SU2C and add a name to the special plane, visit aa.com/standup between July 1 and July 31. Donors can visit aa.com/standup again in late September to see the location of their submitted names on the plane before it begins flying in September.