Eric Stonestreet and Dak Prescott have lost loved ones to cancer and are promoting the Ready. Raise. Rise. campaign

dak prescott & eric stonestreetCredit: Mathew McCabe
Credit: Mathew McCabe

Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott are “teaming” up — for a very good reason.

The unlikely pair have joined forces to promote Ready. Raise. Rise, their educational consumer campaign sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb that challenges the country to learn more and raise funds to support cancer research.

Both Stonestreet and Prescott have lost loved ones to cancer, and they hope their interactive challenge — which encourages users to “raise a flag” online for someone who has been impacted — will help increase awareness and funds for Immuno-Oncology research.

dak prescott & eric stonestreetCredit: Mathew McCabe
Credit: Mathew McCabe

The star quarterback lost his mother, Peggy Prescott, not long after she was diagnosed with colon cancer in the summer of 2012.

“My mom was my hero and No. 1 supporter and fan,” Prescott, 23, tells PEOPLE. “It was tough just watching what cancer did to her and knowing that all I could do was support her, love her and be there to try to pick her up when she was down.”

His mother, who raised Prescott and his siblings on her own, taught him from an early age to fight adversity — an important lesson he later used during her cancer battle.

“I leaned on my mom at that time growing up,” he explains. “And then it was my turn to do it for her and give back to her everything that she taught me.”

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When Prescott makes a big play in a game or nabs a win, he points to the sky.

“I’m pointing to my mom,” he says. “Everything I do is about honoring her on and off the field.”

dak prescott & eric stonestreetCredit: Mathew McCabe
Credit: Mathew McCabe

Stonestreet’s mother, Jamey Anne, also battled the disease — she is a survivor of both uterine and kidney cancer.

“I had just moved to Los Angeles and was trying to start a career, and I knew that my parents weren’t wanting me to move back home and elevate the situation,” Stonestreet, 45, tells PEOPLE. “So my role just became to call her every day, check in with her and be the kid that she knew and loved, which was making jokes and having fun and keeping her spirits up.”

Jamey’s health is “great” now, and she goes in for six-month checkups, according to Stonestreet.

“I actually lost both of my grandpas and an uncle to a very aggressive form of leukemia, though,” he says. “And my best friend’s wife is just finishing up her year-and-a-half-long struggle with breast cancer.

“Cancer affects so many people — Dak and I are not unique in that way,” he adds. “Which is why we really encourage everyone to check out Ready. Raise. Rise.”