Extra Life Gaming Marathon: Play Games. Heal Kids.

extralifeIt’s October again. Besides pumpkins, costumes, and candy, at our house, that means the Extra Life Gaming Marathon. It’s become a family tradition at la casa Bryant to combine our love of gaming with our desire to offer what little help we can to families dealing with cancer.

Extra Life began in 2008 in the Sarcastic Gamer Community, as a response to a young woman’s battle with cancer. In the first two years, $302,000 were raised and donated to the the Texas Children’s Hospital.

saraastic gamer logo

Extra Life has continued to expand each year, with gamers across the country contributing and roping in their friends and families to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across the country. The scope of the event keeps widening, in geography, participation, and ways the funds are used to help families.

My husband was part of that first group of gamers, joining in to celebrate his father’s fight. The next year the girls and I joined him, in memory of Grandpa Fred. Now, this fundraiser is a yearly tradition for us, done in memory of family members we have lost to cancer, and in hopes that soon no one will have these kinds of stories to tell. It’s good family time, and spiritually rewarding as well.

Like many other marathons, Extra Life is set up on a sponsorship model. Gamers pledge to game for twenty-four hours, and ask for charity sponsorship in exchange. Gaming is very broadly defined: videogames, boardgames, roleplaying games, sports, tablet play, card games, improv games. You define it.

We often have a party as part of ours, and track all the games we play and how many hours of gaming in total it is, among all the players. We’ve clocked hours of gaming in the hundreds within a single day this way. Everything from Dweebies to JS Joust, Just Dance! to Pandemic, Nerf weapon wars to Rock Band.

You can join up with others and game at local hobby shop, college campus, or in someone’s home. It doesn’t even have to be the same day as everyone else. A nearby date is do-able. If you want to participate, don’t let the limits of your calendar stop you!

There are two ways you can help: you can join in yourself or sponsor someone else (like our family, for instance).

Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day, and a novelist by night. Her Menopausal Superheroes series is available from Curiosity Quills Press. You can find her on Twitter @mirymom1