CHICAGO (CBS) — When Cubs reliever Jason Motte lost a loved one to cancer, his life took on new meaning.

“My wife’s grandfather was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer two months before our wedding in 2010,” Motte said. “He passed away December 26, 2011.”

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He soon realized he wanted to do more, make a difference.

“The people at West Clinic in Memphis helped us so much, helped her grandfather and we wanted to give back,” Motte said. “They were great people. They helped our family a lot.”

He knew he had the platform to do it.

“It was a simple question of us asking how can we help?” Motte said. “We want to help others going through this same thing.”

Motte would close out and win the 2011 World Series for the Cardinals. Soon after, he and his wife would hold their first event in Memphis.

“We wanted to do it and do it right,” he said. “We did live silent auction items, a band, something simple.”

In 2012, he led the league in saves, but when he blew out his elbow in spring training the next year, he used his off time to increase his charitable efforts. That’s when he came up with the K Cancer T-shirt.

“We have our strike out cancer T-shirts and the company that makes them is a company out of St. Louis,” Motte said. “I asked them to make about 300 so I could pass them out to the team and raise money at our events. Then a bunch of people saw me wearing them and asked how they could get them so we made more and sell them online and give proceeds back to our foundation.”

Motte came up with the K Cancer T-shirt after he blew out his elbow in spring training in 2013. .(Credit: Jason Motte Foundation.) (Credit: Lisa Fielding).

Motte came up with the K Cancer T-shirt after he blew out his elbow in spring training in 2013. .(Credit: Jason Motte Foundation.) (Credit: Lisa Fielding).

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A year later, the T-shirts are prominent in every major-league clubhouse, in every team’s colors.

“In 2013, we just had the red one but then we reached out to different players on every team,” Motte said. “The Cubs’ ones is a royal blue shirt with a red K cancer, the Cardinals’ one is a red shirt and a white K cancer, the Minnesota Twins’ is a navy blue with a red K cancer. Now we have a guy on every time with proceeds going back to charities that they support.”

Since then, The Jason Motte Foundation has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research and for care to those affected by cancer. Motte says he can’t believe how it’s exploded in such a short time.

“I know last year, we raised over a $110,000 for charities on the T-shirts alone,” he said. “We’re getting to the ballparks now and you’re seeing the different shirts. It’s pretty cool. It’s something me and my wife would never thought it would get to anything like that. It’s gotten way bigger than we ever thought it would get.”

The T-shirts are prominent in every major-league clubhouse, in every team's colors. (Credit: Jason Motte Foundation.)

The T-shirts are prominent in every major-league clubhouse, in every team’s colors. (Credit: Jason Motte Foundation.)

Now, he wears several colored bracelets on his wrist, a reminder of the people he’s met and even lost, but also a symbol of the people he’s helped.

“There are three or four of these bracelets I wore, I have over a 100 in my car,” he said. “Different people that I’ve met. That’s what’s it’s all about. If you can put a smile on their face, forget about what they’re going through, that makes all the difference.”

And that’s a legacy he says he now knows will go beyond the mound.

“I always knew there was something bigger,” Motte said. “It gives you new perspective; there are things bigger than baseball.”

Money raised from the foundation goes to cancer research and to provide comfort and care to those affected by cancer of all kinds.

On September 19, the foundation will hold the “Chicago Cornhole Challenge” at Wrigley Field.

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For more information, visit JasonMotteFoundation.org.