WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – A statewide fundraiser started by a 7-year-old is now entering its 12th year in Connecticut. It had restaurants, businesses and schools take casual Friday to the next level for an important cause.

Thousands of students across the state walked through their school hallways in pajamas on Friday. The goal was to raise awareness and funds for children fighting cancer at Connecticut Children’s.

Every Connecticut school participated with Hall High School being a top contributor.

Wednesday’s Warrior: PJ Day for the Kids supports children battling cancer

From her school’s hallways to a hospital bed, Hannah Forstell participated in PJ Day and showed the purpose of it all.

“I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma,” Forstell said. “It’s a type of pediatric bone cancer. I’ve had it five times, this is my fifth time.”

In three years, the 16-year-old has been through the unimaginable. She’s had twelve surgeries, over 200 days in-patient with most of her PJ days spent at the hospital. She says seeing the sleepwear support helps her.

“It’s amazing because it’s just the support that keeps you going with your journey and it’s so nice of everyone to do so,” Forstell said.

The event was started by Nick Wesoloski when he was just 7-years-old after his infant sister was diagnosed with cancer. His sister is now a healthy 15-year-old.

“Kids at the hospital were still fighting for the lights and I wanted to be able to do something to help them, so that’s why I started PJ Day for kids,” Wesoloski said.

“He wanted his classmates to wear their pajamas to school because his sister had to wear hers all the time and she has no choice,” said Tara Wesoloski, Nick’s mother. “So, he said for one day, we could wear our pajamas like the kids at the hospital and bring a dollar.”

Those dollars went from $500 collected one year to now over $2 million raised for Connecticut Children’s. Organizers say this year is the biggest yet, with a goal of raising $750,000.

There were 500 schools and 200 businesses that participated this year. Students said they day connects with the community.

“I just saw a [dinosaur] onesie, a lot of great stuff, a lot of teachers are wearing their PJs, just a lot of good energy in the building today and I’m glad everyone came together,” said Dawson Biondi, Hall High School student.

This is the 8th year West Hartford Public Schools have participated. Hall’s goal was to raise $25,000, but students say they surpassed that.