HINCKLEY, Ohio — The Meadows Turkey Bowl has raised more than $3.6 million since their Thanksgiving football game became a fundraiser 16 years ago.
"We raised $533,000," said Mike Meadows, who started the Thanksgiving game in his backyard 33 years ago.
The holiday morning in Hinckley is about giving back and having fun.
"One hundred percent of the proceeds are going to the needy," Meadows proclaimed into a megaphone early Thursday morning.
This year's football fundraiser was more significant for the Meadows family, as each player wore the name "Gianna Rae" on their back. Just after Mother's Day this year, Meadows' son Pete and his wife lost their child eight months into pregnancy.
"We're playing in her honor," Pete told 3News.
Around eight years ago, the Meadows Turkey Bowl chose to raise funds for families battling cancer. The significance of raising funds for those battling the disease became larger when Pete was diagnosed with brain cancer just over two years ago.
More than 30% of the proceeds from the Meadows Turkey Bowl this year will go to the Gianna Rae Meadows Fund, which goes towards research for a cure to the cancer Pete battled. The players battled throughout the morning to win their round-robin style tournament, this after the players raised funds outside the lines to be able to step between them.
"These guys buy in," Pete said, referencing the culture associated with the holiday tournament. "Each player we ask to raise two grand."
The Meadows told 3News that some players will have raised nearly $10,000 before the first whistle. Pete became emotional Thursday morning as he spoke to the crowd gathered in Hinckley.
"I know she's with us here today," he said of his late daughter.
Pete became emotional Thursday morning as he spoke to the crowd gathered in Hinckley, saying "I know she's with us here today."