BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Yesterday marked 2022’s Extra Life Day — in which gamers of all kinds come together to support medical care for children.
On November 5, every year, players of all sorts of games, live streamers, businesses, and major game companies all take part in Extra Life fundraisers — where they’ll be raising money to donate to the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) of hospitals. The recurring annual event is one that helps to promote the gaming community as a whole, as well as direct them towards a common noble cause.
The origins of Extra Life come from a tale of friendship between Victoria Enmon, a young leukemia patient at a CMN Hospital, and Jeremy, a radio DJ who ran a video game website. The two bonded over their mutual love of games, and when the DJ put out a request for his community to send in games for the girl, thousands of them arrived. As Victoria was unable to play them all, these were distributed throughout the children’s hospital.
Sadly, Tori would pass away after the generous donations. The legacy of her request and friendship with Jeremy, though, lives on in the form of Extra Life’s full fundraising operations — where gamers do their best to donate time, money, and skill to benefit other children and families in need.
As the event grows over the years, so too does the number of those participating in it. With the constantly growing industry of streaming, as well as a return to in-person gaming, the number of participants in yearly Extra Life events only seems to be growing. And even without counting the hosts of said fundraisers, the number of those made aware of and donating to the cause also grow year by year thanks to their favorite creators (and sometimes articles like this one). All of the funds raised during these events go directly to the nearest CMN Hospital in one’s community and are put towards supporting whatever department needs assistance the most.
It’s important to note that the term ‘gamer’ here doesn’t necessarily only refer to people who play on their screens or tabletops. As Extra Life’s community manager Adam Schifani states, everyone’s interested in some sort of game, and all of it can be used to promote the cause.
“Even if you don’t think you’re a gamer,” says Schifani, “you are. If you play games on your phone, you can do Extra Life. If you play yard games, like cornhole or basketball or something like that, you can do Extra Life. You can do anything. As long as you’re having fun and doing good, and raising money for children’s hospitals, you can do Extra Life.”
Of course, there’s always something in it for the donors, too. In addition to the usual good feeling that comes with a job well done, some companies will help promote the cause by offering exclusive items promotions to people willing to donate. Companies like Wizards of the Coast are notorious for their recent special Extra Life edition sets of Magic: The Gathering cards, all sales of which go to the organization.
Companies themselves aren’t the only ones who can play into this. Local game stores and groups will also typically charge admission fees for events, hold raffles, or offer discounts to help promote the cause, with earnings also being sent towards the CMN’s ultimate goal. This even applies to streamers taking part, who will often engage in hijinks like eating spicy food, taking requests for games, or partnering with other members of the community and businesses.
The idea doesn’t just apply to companies or big-name streamers. Local game stores, individuals, and small groups can have their own ways of contributing to Extra Life. Comic Realms in Bismarck, although unfortunately needing to postpone their fundraising event to December, aims to do so using a day of cooperative board games (which our digital reporter, a frequent board game player, hopes to attend) and raise money to donate to the CMN’s Fargo hospital.
” I know the children’s hospital is super grateful for what we do,” said Comic Realms assistant manager Emily Pogatschnik, “and we’re always trying to look to see what we can do to make it bigger and better, and to help the families of children who are unfortunately sick.”
With or without the incentives, though, one can’t deny that the fundraiser itself has been a huge success. Much like the original campaign, it was based on, it brought in much more than the organization originally anticipated. The campaign quickly received widespread support, and in the fifteen years since it’s been running, Extra Life has raised a tremendous amount of money that can make all the difference for children and families in need of support. Schifani would know best — his own family has been a recipient of care provided with help from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
” I started fundraising in 2018 when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes,” explains Schifani, “and now, there are multiple layers to it. And now, I get to make an impact with gaming across the country, in my community, and for my son.”
And with another great day of fundraising wrapped up yesterday, as well as more supplementary fundraising, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the organization in the future.. as well as all the lives that are touched by it.
To learn how to create your own gaming guild to participate in next year’s event, find a list of participating companies, or locate participating groups near you, visit Extra Life’s website.