"Football is what we do and we all love the game, but to be able to do something bigger than yourself is really cool," the San Fransisco 49er tells PEOPLE of honoring Logan Preston Hale
Christian McCaffrey is giving back in a meaningful way.
The NFL star spoke with PEOPLE about The Logan Project, his latest venture with The Christian McCaffrey Foundation that honors the legacy of his super fan — Logan Preston Hale, who lost his battle with childhood cancer in late 2021 — to keep his dream alive.
McCaffrey, 26, recalled his first encounter with Hale, a then 12-year-old fan who looked up to the athlete during his tenure playing for the North Carolina Panthers — the team he played six seasons with prior to his trade last fall.
"Someone from the NFL reached out to me and asked me to sign a ball for a kid who had cancer, who was currently in the hospital and getting treatment," McCaffrey, now with the San Francisco 49ers, explains to PEOPLE. "And whenever I'm asked, I'm always touched by it, so I was quick to sign the ball."
As the newly-engaged running back learned more about Hale, he discovered that he was "a huge fan" of his and the Panthers as a team. "Then I found out about six months or maybe a year later that he had passed away," McCaffrey sadly remembers.
"It hit me pretty hard because they told me that he got buried in my jersey," he adds. "I think you always understand that as an athlete and somebody who's in the spotlight, you have an impact on people — but I didn't know to that extent."
And just as McCaffrey impacted Hale, the young boy impacted McCaffrey, prompting him to take action. His first thought? "I need to do this and I need to do it quick and let his name live on forever," he recalls.
"Although he is not with us, I hope that his name carries a lot of weight forever."
So McCaffrey contacted his family directly and "ended up helping the mom with the funeral," he says. Then he read Hale's obituary, and it was the spark that ignited The Logan Project.
"In his obituary, he said that he wanted to provide Xboxes for kids all across the world so that they can communicate with and stay in touch with their friends," the 49er continues. And now, McCaffrey strives to bring Hale's dream to life.
How? The Logan Bowl, a live, bracket-style Madden Tournament featuring McCaffrey's fellow NFL players, streaming online to raise funds in support of The Logan Project's efforts. The money raised will provide gaming consoles to children's hospitals to help connect children with friends and their favorite athletes to "restore a sense of normalcy."
Some of the NFL players involved in the Bowl include the New York Giants' Saquon Barkely and the New England Patriots' Juju Smith-Schuster — and to McCaffrey, their participation "means a lot."
"I think football is what we do and obviously, we all love the game... but to be able to do something bigger than yourself is really cool," he says. "It goes to show you how tight-knit the football community is and how tight the NFL is, so to have a lot of these guys who were not only jumping on board, but were so happy to do it says a lot about them."
McCaffrey adds, "I'm just thankful for this game. This game has blessed us with so much."
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Read the original article on People.