Medina — It started as a backyard Thanksgiving football game among a couple of buddies.
Almost 30 years later, hundreds come back for the annual Meadows Turkey Bowl in Medina.
Each year, more and more of them are raising money to help out families up against a cancer diagnosis.
29 years. Thanksgiving morning. Crack of dawn.
They get up and they show up, because the families they play for get up and fight every single day.
It is classic, grass roots #TheGoodStuff and growing.
From the first time the chemo went into her veins, 31-year-old Brittany Parker stayed positive. She has been proud to tell anyone who asks about the power of prayer.
30-year-old Chad Toocheck is a cancer fighter as well.
"I had a chance at playing professional football for the NFL, was diagnosed with cancer, got hurt a bunch of times, my mom died two weeks after my last round of chemo. It was like a perfect storm of bad stuff," says Toocheck.
And his take on it all?
"God has done so much with my life."
Toocheck the athlete. Parker the single mom with stage 3 breast cancer.
The tie that binds? This year's 29th annual Meadows Turkey Bowl.
50 players who THIS year alone brought in $318,000.
The money raised from the game and campaign will help out 6 families in all this year, including Brittany's, who are up against a cancer diagnosis.
They have come a long way in just the last 14 years since Mike Meadows and Tom Judson made it a fundraiser.
“We passed the hat around and raised $800 the first year. Now we've hit $2 million raised," says Meadows.
“It is truly miraculous what they are able to do in this organization and what they have done for me and all these other families. I want to pay it forward next year. I can't wait to be a part of it and give back," says Parker.
Ask 11-year-old Ellie Judson how many years she has been to the Meadows Turkey Bowl.
"All 11 years," she’ll tell you with a smile and adds, “It just makes me feel happy and thankful for everybody".
It’s generations of good stuff and growing.
Think about it: 29 years of Turkey Bowl...Chad Toocheck is 30 years old.
Tom Judson smiles and remembers many of today’s players as kids.
“I coached Chad. I coached a lot of these guys," says Judson.
It’s homegrown restored faith.
"There is so much bad going on in the world right now, this gives us a little hope," says Judson.
Toocheck adds, “This is all the good stuff. Everything about the day is all the good stuff."
Brittany’s hard earned advice: “Be thankful for your health. Be thankful for your family and be thankful for everything you have because it can change in a moment."
Meadows calls it a “blend of testosterone meets charity. It’s all about helping others. It’s really to give back.”
Toochech, still out of breath on the sideline, says if we could see into his heart, it would be pure, “LOVE! Unconditional love. All the way around. With all the families we have and all the people who want to help the families, so much love goes into all of this."