LaPorte Community School Corporation held a memorial service Sunday afternoon for Jake West, the football and lacrosse player who passed away last Wednesday.
The service started at 5:30 and was open to the public. People were already filling the stands nearly an hour before it began.
By the time the memorial had started, the stands were full. They are estimating more than 3,300 people filled the stands.
West collapsed at football practice on Wednesday then died in the hospital a short time later due to a condition known as right ventricular cardiomyopathy - about which his family did not know.
Members of his team were on hand to pay respects to their friend.
“The entire community, not even ours, just all of northwestern Indiana has just come together and been there for us and his family and everybody,” said Michael Ash, a senior and the captain of LaPorte’s football team. “I think Jake would be proud."
"He was the most positive guy you could ever meet," adds Ash. "And if you never got to meet him I feel bad for you because if you were to meet one person in LaPorte High School he would be that guy. He was just awesome."
As the service continued many spent time reciting prayers, recalling memories, acknowledging what a great person West was, saying it's all thanks to how he was raised.
"When writing this the only thing I could think about was the bond he had with his mother. It is the strongest bond I have ever seen between a mother and a son. It was like no other. He was always there to kiss her good morning and kiss her good night and he made sure he did it every day. He wouldn't miss it for nothing," explains teammate Drew Kessler.
Jake's sister took a few moments as well, standing strong in front of the crowd remembering her little brother.
"A part of me is gone that I will never get back but I am thankful for the 17 beautiful and influential years I had with my baby brother," says Courtney West.
NewsCenter 16 was told that the West family was at the Merrillville game Friday. Jake's football jersey was presented to his sister, but emotions are very raw at this point as you can well imagine.