TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - High school football teams across the Hoosier state are suiting-up for more than games under the lights each Friday night. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and players are throwing their support behind the cause.
Terre Haute North and South football teams battle each other on the field each season for bragging rights and the Victory Bell but they are united in the fight against childhood cancer. Kick-off of the third annual Tackle Childhood Cancer Campaign got a soggy start at the much anticipated game.
Parents, Molly and Greg Barrett, launched the campaign in honor of their son Patrick. He died in 2016 at age 19. Patrick had battled cancer for several years.
Molly Barrett says, "He had actually planned to go to medical school and be an oncologist after his first round so we knew that with his scientific mind and his dream to do this that this was really something that he would want to do."
The Barrett family has a close connection to the game. Greg is the head football coach at South Vermillion High School.
They've enlisted teams across Indiana to raise money in support of the P.S. We Love You Fund at Riley Hospital for Children. The fund is for specific tumor testing that can help doctors better treat patients like Patrick.
According to Barrett, precision genomics allows doctors to learn about a patient's specific tumor so they can develop a unique treatment plan.
"Unfortunately, these tests are extremely expensive. They range anywhere from six to thirty-six thousand dollars depending upon what type of test they have to do on the tumors and right now those are not currently covered by insurance."
The goal is to raise $150,000 this season. Teams are selling t-shirts and bracelets. They're also sending buckets into the stands for a Miracle Minute to collect donations from football fans.
Barrett says this money and subsequent research will help kids fighting cancer right now and improve outcomes for future fighters.
"Everyone. The minute someone is diagnosed with a cancer they can have this test and they can get the best possible treatment for them."
Other Indiana teams will host fundraisers at games later this month.
For more information about the P.S. We Love You Fund and how you can help click here.