"As busy as I am with the Falcons, a brand new stadium and a startup Atlanta United soccer franchise, there's always room to give back," Cannon told 11Alive's Jennifer Leslie.
"We were buddies at West Point," Cannon explained. "He was on assignment in Afghanistan. There was a suicide bomb, and he became one of the most senior officers killed in action over there."
Cannon said it was a devastating blow.
"John was gone, and he had five kids," Cannon said. "Our mission as his classmates was to focus on his family and take care of his kids."
They did it, but didn't stop and instead expanded their mission by creating the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund.
In just two years, they've raised almost $8 million and awarded more than 300 college scholarships to children of fallen soldiers.
"By taking care of their kids, we feel like we're honoring their sacrifice," Cannon said.
The nonprofit organization has identified more than 5,000 children who will need help with college beyond what VA benefits cover.
In Georgia and across the country, the mission continues.
"The need is so great," Cannon added.
(© 2017 WXIA)