JENISON, Mich. -- A West Michigan sports team paid it forward this weekend and it was all for a good cause.
Grand Valley State's hockey team hosted a game Saturday night to raise money for and honor those who have been affected by cancer.
Many people came out to support the GVSU D3 hockey team, who partnered with the Purple Community of the Van Andel Institute, a program that funds the fight against major diseases like cancer and Parkinson's.
All the proceeds from the game went to cancer research.
Senior Alex Bjork was the force behind the cause, after starting the fundraiser game three years ago.
He says it's a cause everyone can get behind because of how cancer has affected so many people on a personal level. "My grandpa actually passed away right before we started the event, about a year before we started the event. so I think everybody has a personal tie to it," Bjork said.
Over the past three years, the game has grown tremendously. Bjork said, "Year one we kind of just threw it together, it was like $1,500. Last year we got $3,000 and this year we're already above $5,000 before the start of the game."
When they started doing the event, they mostly did their fundraising through t-shirt sales. The next year, they stepped it up and add more gear for fans to buy. This year was different because each player was able to go on and create a donation page on the cause they were going to play for.
Also new this year, the players sported special purple jerseys. Each one picked a person they were playing for, whether it was someone who had lost their battle with cancer, were still fighting or had conquered the disease.
All the money raised goes directly to the fight against cancer, which fueled these young men in one of their final games of the season. and the Van Andel Institute is thankful for the donations given.
Purple Community Intern Katherine West says, "It's builds connections and we get to see where the money is going and who's it helping and forming that connection, and seeing what their what purple is and what their passion is. and why they want to fight against these diseases. so it's really cool to see all that passion right here in West Michigan."
Bjork is a senior at GVSU, so he will be graduating in May. He tells FOX 17 that he knows his teammates will continue doing this game even after he graduates and he's excited to see what they do with it.
At last check, they raised $5000 dollars from the game and that number is still rising.
We'll be sure to update you with the final donation numbers.
To donate to the Purple Community, you can head to their website.