It’s almost Game Day for Extra Life. On Nov. 7, streamers across North America will take part in charity streams for a program that has worked to raise millions for children’s hospitals.
Extra Life raises money for children’s hospitals across North America. The program began in 2008 after Victoria Enmon lost her battle with leukemia. A group called the Sarcastic Gamer community sent Victoria games and gifts during her battle. In 2008, the Sarcastic Gamer community took part in a 24-hour video game stream to raise money for the hospital that treated Victoria. More than a decade later, what started as a small collection of gamers has grown into a full-blown movement.
“It’s really a grassroots movement of gamers that want to give back and really help out the kids in their communities that are treated at these hospitals,” Program Director Ashley Farkas said.
Nov. 7 may be Game Day, but gamers can fundraise throughout the year and gamers have responded strongly.
Since its inception, Extra Life has raised more than $70 million. The program raised $15 million in 2019.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m blown away every year by this community and just the passion that these gamers have,” Farkas said. “This is the community signing up to fundraise, while also donating to each other and rolling that off one another.”
Gamers can choose to fundraise for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in their geographic region or any hospital across North America. It’s not too late to join Game Day and start your own fundraising campaign. More information can be found here.
And while gaming is an activity that people enjoy, it’s the stories of the families that are affected by these donations that are truly what keep people going, Farkas said.
“That is something that will always ground you,” Farkas said. “You will watch (people’s stories) and see how folks who come into these hospitals are directly impacted and how your fundraising can help more people have a happy and healthy lifestyle with their kids.”
In a normal year, the Extra Life team would come together and do their own livestream. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, that won’t be happening for them, but they plan to support others streams throughout Game Day.
“Game Day isn’t really about us,” Farkas said. “It’s about the community and all the awesome stuff that everyone else is doing.”
As gamers get ready for Extra Life’s big day, Farkas said everyone at Extra Life knows that at its core, this is about more than playing a game. It’s about changing lives.
“It’s changing the future because when we help out these kids who are treated at these hospitals, they are the future,” Farkas said. “We are here to help make sure that their future is bright. That’s why I game.”