Extra Life: More Than a Game

Last week, I attended the Extra Life Toronto Guild Kickoff Meeting at SickKids Hospital. With dozens of gamers in attendance, the staff at Sick Kids and the Extra Life Toronto Guild gave us an inspiring presentation that demonstrated how important our fundraising efforts are. It served as a wonderful reminder that video games and our interactions with them can mean so much more than just the immediate gratification we get from playing them.

As part of the presentation, the SickKids staff showed us one way in which our efforts through Extra Life have made a positive impact on the lives of the children and the staff at the hospital. One of the challenges that occurs is that in order for the staff to get clear CT scan images, children have to lie perfectly still for an extended period of time. This is difficult for the kids, as the CT scan machine is admittedly a big and scary piece of equipment that you have to go inside.

However, with our donations and a lot of imagination, they’ve been able to completely change the context of how the machine is presented.

It’s now a submarine. And there’s a mermaid inside. After going on their undersea adventure, children get to pick out a toy from a treasure chest. The decorations may not seem like much, but this underwater adventure goes a long way towards easing the fears of the children while also allowing the staff to generate clearer images that will help in their treatment.

To-date, Extra Life has helped raise over $2 million dollars for SickKids Toronto, which has helped to fund projects like this one. We were also informed of their goal to completely rebuild the hospital, as it’s old age is impeding the staff’s ability to provide the absolute best for the kids. It’s a massive $1.3 billion dollar project, but every donation counts.

Last year was my first year participating in the Extra Life movement. Along with my family and friends across North America, we were able to use our love of gaming and our bond with each other to support the cause. What I didn’t realize going into it was how moved I would be by participating in this event. Being able to make a positive impact on the world of pediatric care through a medium I love with the people I love filled my heart with joy.

This year, I’m hoping to make a bigger impact. I’ve officially signed up for the Extra Life Toronto Guild. Hoping to volunteer my time to help raise awareness and bring others into the fold. Though we’re a long ways away from the big day, I’m actively thinking about ways of making this year’s effort bigger and better.

We as gamers can use gaming for so much beyond the bounds of entertainment. Gamers like you and me have helped raise millions of dollars for hospitals around the world while positively impacting the lives of countless children and hospital staff. Whether you volunteer for your local guild, or host your own marathon, or help raise awareness of the cause, you can make a difference! At the very least, check out extra-life.org for more information on the movement. Also, if you’re ready to donate, feel free to donate through my page! Any contribution you can make to the cause is greatly appreciated!

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