Gaming marathon to benefit CHOP patients

Gamers will soon participate in a 24-hour marathon event.

AlbertHongA 24-hour video game marathon to raise money for children’s hospitals? Sign me up.

This is the attitude that a lot of local gamers have taken for this year’s Extra Life, a nationwide event where people sign up and seek donations from friends, family and the community. Then, come Oct. 25, individuals or teams dedicate a full day to playing all kinds of games including card games and board games.

Extra Life was started in 2008 by the Sarcastic Gamer Community to honor the passing of Victoria Enmon, a girl who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 11. After her death, the community started a 24-hour gaming marathon to raise money for the local hospital that treated Enmon.

With last year’s event seeing 38,000 people raising a total of $3.8 million benefiting Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, I was curious as to what kind of gamers were dedicating time for our own local Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this year.

Robin Valentino is the director of CMN for CHOP and is responsible for raising funds and awareness for 18 local counties. Valentino explained how CMN allows gamers to make that important local impact.

“[CMN] started with the sole intention and purpose that funds raised locally should stay locally,” Valentino said. “This essentially became a program that any hospital can really take on and develop, however they see fit.”

In the case of CHOP, local gamers’ donations will benefit the hospital’s uncompensated patient care, which helps cover uninsured costs.

Andrew Meduri, host of The Level Up Show, started this live, weekly video game discussion show with his wife and friends late last year on Twitch, a site dedicated to game-centric video streams. The crew will be live-streaming for Extra Life and its weekly passion for talking about games has translated to the support it has received from around the world.

“It’s only going to get even tighter because we’re talking more than ever now,” Meduri said. “That’s why I think Extra Life is going to do so well moving forward cause the community’s only getting stronger.”

As passionate as this community can be, it undoubtedly shows an uglier side as well, in terms of hate and “toxicity.”

Local YouTuber, Event Status, posts various videos of himself speaking his mind on controversial issues, many of them within the gaming world, which receive a fair share of support and criticism. Event Status does not give out his real name due to previously received threats online.

With his participation in Extra Life by live streaming since June, it’s definitely a nice change of pace.

“While we’re always seeing the negative things that the media says about us, they never highlight the positive things,” Event Status said. “So I felt this was a good opportunity to show them what we can do, that video games do have the power to help change people’s lives.”

Many people, like Event Status, had initially never heard of Extra Life, but it’s thanks to this year’s newly implemented Extra Life Guilds that have informed people of the charity at various events.

Steve Mathis, president of the Philadelphia Guild, used his production skills to help spread the word through a video depicting how “Everyone can be a superhero for sick kids,” he said.

It’s now the official promo video for this year’s Extra Life, after winning a contest held on Facebook.

David Whelan, member of the GameEnthus podcast, has been involved with Extra Life for five years and will continue this year. With newfound motivation from his new nephew, he sees gaming as any other form of charity just wanting to give back.

“People who are [runners] really enjoy doing marathons,” Whelan said. “A charity event doesn’t have to be something that’s a terrible time; it can be something that you really enjoy.”

A benefit of Extra Life is that as long as you’re able to raise money, Oct. 25 is not a strict date for you to get your gaming in.

Rob Martin, a writer for the geek culture website Caffeine Crew, is getting together with some friends to play for Extra Life this Saturday, due to a responsibility on Oct. 25. With his wife creating the site, he said he’s glad to have the opportunity to write about video games and reach out this way.

“It was really fun to be able to use that as a platform to help get the information out there and help do our part for something we care so much about,” Martin said. “It’s really just an amazing time.”

Albert Hong can be reached at

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