By Steven Chan
Today, you can fundraise at home, playing video games on your couch while being watched by thousands of viewers from all over the world.
This is the fundraising method employed by Extra Life, a philanthropic movement that supports Childrens’ Miracle Network hospitals. Participants can register on the Extra Life website to be sponsored to play their favorite games in a 24 hour marathon, with all proceedings going to the hospitals.
Extra Life started in honor of Victoria Enmon, a young girl that had acute lymphoblastic leukemia and was admitted to a children’s hospital in Texas. While in the hospital, she met Jeromy “Doc” Adams, the host of radiothons that supported childrens’ hospitals around the world, and they became quick friends. Unfortunately, Victoria lost her battle with leukemia in 2008; she relapsed with the cancer twice.
Victoria, who lived through video games during her extended stays at the hospital, inspired Doc and the Enmon family to start Extra Life. Wanting to bring together the gaming community for a great cause, he and the family started with a gamer fest of roughly 1200 in attendance.
Almost 7 years later, Extra Life has exploded into the public eye. Since 2008, the movement has raised over 8 million dollars for childrens’ hospitals everywhere. It has encountered remarkable success in the past year alone; they raised 4 million dollars in 2013 due to a marked increase in popularity after several popular game enthusiasts endorsed the event.
The cause has spread to hundreds of campuses around the world—including NJIT.
Juan-Carlos “JC” Alberto, a student at NJIT, and two of his friends from different colleges, created a chapter of this fundraiser to support the movement.
“It is so much fun, we play together, I might convince one of my friends to play league again. We joke around, we cook, we play together, and then we get tired.” JC tells of his experiences with his group from last year.
This is the second year that JC and his group have completed this event. Their team, led by St. Peters College student Nick Mederos, raised $60 to go towards the Childrens’ Miracle Network.
The group set up their chapter in Nick’s apartment, where JC, Nick, and NJIT student Daniel DeMuro set up their various consoles and computers to play. Starting at 3PM Saturday and ending at 3PM the next day, the trio streamed everything that happened. Super Smash Brothers. League of Legends. Assassins Creed: Black Flag. Titan Fall. Portal 2. Bioshock. They did not stop playing for the full 24 hours.
Ultimately, they again raised $60 to go towards the hospitals. While this may not seem like a huge sum, this amount was raised by three people as one group among thousands.
JC commented on why he believes that this form of fundraising has become so popular. “I think that this is really successful because this event is easy for people. Other events have hard work, but this is convenient and fun for everyone. And it’s for a great cause.”
More information on Extra Life and Chidlrens’ Miracle Network hospitals can be found on www.extra-life.org