Playing Games To Donate An “Extra Life” For Kids In Children’s Hospitals

Our family has seen more than its fare share of kids in hospitals. Our youngest son, Ben, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor typically originating from the adrenal glands (as was his case), when he was three months old. For the next year or so, we made monthly visits to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and a total of three surgeries. The chemotherapy left him vulnerable to infection, which he contracted about every other month, requiring him to say in the hospital for a week or two. When that happened, my wife would stay with our infant son in the hospital during the day, and I would take over the night shift. Fortunately, our son is now cancer-free, thanks to the wonderful medical staff at CHLA.

However, our story does not end there. Each of our sons, both Ben and Tim, contracted Crohn’s Disease, a painful inflammatory bowel disease, when they went through puberty. Both of them had surgeries and now have to go into the hospital regularly for infusion treatment. We’ve gotten to know the rigors of hospital life very well.

So you would not be surprised how one booth caught my attention as I was walking through the hallways of the Los Angeles Convention Center at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It was for a charity called Extra Life, a community of gamers which who help sick and injured children at their chosen Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

Extra Life began in 2008 as a way of honoring a young lady named Victoria Enmon. Tori’s battle against acute lymphoblastic leukemia inspired Sarcastic Gamer, an independent video gaming blog and community site, to send in video games and bought gifts to keep Tori’s spirits up despite numerous hospital stays and three bouts with the deadly disease.

Tragically, Tori lost her battle with cancer in January 2008. Later that year, Sarcastic Gamer held a 24-hour video game marathon to raise money for the hospital that treated and fought beside Tori. In 2008 and 2009 Extra Life raised a combined $302,000, 100 percent of which went directly to help kids like Tori at their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital (Texas Children’s Hospital).

While thousands of gamers, more than 100 websites and more than 12,000 donors were happy to support Extra Life, many expressed their desire to raise money to help kids closer to home. Now charitable gamers cans simply sign up, commit to play games for 24 hours (the next event is from November 7, 2015 – November 8, 2015, but you can do it any day of your choosing), and ask your family and friends to support your efforts.

Once you complete registration, you’ll get an online fundraising page that you can customize by choosing which hospital you want to support, setting a fundraising goal and sharing your personal reason for why you’re participating in Extra Life. You’re able to unlock digital content and rewards by asking your family and friends to donate towards your efforts.

The money that you raise through Extra Life will go directly to your chosen Children’s Miracle Network Hospital as ‘unrestricted funds’. This means that the hospital decides where and how to spend the money to ensure the dollars you raise make the biggest impact in the lives of the kids they treat. For example, the money you raise will go to fund research and training, purchase life-saving equipment and pay for uncompensated care.

If you are interested in participating in this worthy cause, you can find out more at the Extra Life website.



About David Mullich

I am a video game producer who has worked at Activision, Disney, Cyberdreams, EduWare, The 3DO Company and the Spin Master toy company. I am currently a game design and production consultant, a game design instructor at ArtCenter College of Design, and co-creator of the Boy Scouts of America Game Design Merit Badge. At the 2014 Gamification World Congress in Barcelona, I was rated the 14th ranking "Gamification Guru" in social media.

Posted on June 29, 2015, in Games and Society. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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