Monday, May 25, 2015

"Why I Extra Life" and Catching Up on Previous Year Participation Results

I was going through the blog on my phone this morning, and I realized I never recapped last year's Extra Life experience.  I started thinking to myself now is as good a time as any to do that, but I wanted to add some additional context to the recap.  I am going to do my best to set the stage for this year while explaining how we got to this point over the years.

This year's Extra Life details

In the beginning ...

Our first year of Extra Life was in 2012.  It is kind of funny to think of that as a significant amount of time ago, but to put it in perspective I had two kids in 2012, and I currently have four kids.  A lot can change in a few years!

Our Extra Life experience started when my wife Amy challenged me to do something more meaningful with my favorite hobby, gaming, rather than simply engaging in that pastime alone.  She wanted me to make a difference, which I understood.  After considering what that should mean, I decided to jump on the internet and search for something, anything that stuck out to me with regards to gaming for good.  I found Child's Play and Extra Life.
Another wonderful gaming focused charity
For people who do not know about Child's Play, it is a charity that has been around for about a decade.  Child's Play aims to bring toys, books, and games to children in hospitals and domestic violence shelters.  The focus of this post is more about our personal investment in Extra Life, but we absolutely support Child's Play as well and encourage people to visit their website to learn more about them.

As for Extra Life, I started reading about how the charity began, about Victoria Enmon, about how many kids enter Children's Miracle Network hospitals today, and about how people like Jeromy "Doc" Adams just wanted to make a difference.  There it was, people making a difference by playing games and raising money as a community for kids in need to receive the treatment and care they need at these hospitals.  The pitch resonated with me, and I was in.

The story so far ...

People might read this and say great, you like the charity, but what have you done about it since then?  Here is where our progress report comes in.  In the first year I convinced a couple of my cousins to join the cause.  We had never done legitimate timed marathons but did not think tackling 24 hours straight would be hard.  As any video or board gamer can attest, we were not strangers to pulling all nighters with friends, and that gave us a false over confidence with what our limits were.  As a result our organization was distracted.  I focused on trivial problems like what games we should play and how to communicate while playing as opposed to getting our sponsorship pages updated with a consistent message and preparing for a healthy, shareable marathon.  In the end we had three different pages, all supporting the same hospital, and, due to my lack of experience with YouTube and Twitch publishing, not many videos or pictures from the original event.  The good news is we managed to raise $590 for the kids in Children's Medical Center that year, which was not half bad at all.  To the kids who made use of that money, the difference we made counted, and that is what mattered the most.

The second year we took time to digest lessons learned from year one.  In 2013 we supported two hospitals, Children's Medical and Our Lady of the Lake, across the two states where all our donors resided, Texas and Louisiana.  Our team all met in one location and played the marathon in person for the first time as well to provide direct support to one another.  Our pages were clean and customized with event details and personal notes.  Aside from me failing to archive our Twitch footage from the event (whoops), things went pretty smoothly.  In fact we took a step forward in donations, raising $658 for Children's and $208 for Our Lady of the Lake.  Rather than split our donations and raise less for both hospitals, we ended up growing with the event year to year.  Our team was overwhelmed with the response.

Finally, last year we got more engaged.  I joined the local Street Team and began meeting with fellow participants and official hospital representatives in late 2013 and took a more in depth role in 2014.  We helped with recruitment ideas, and we socialized the charity more proactively with our network of family, friends, and the businesses we support.  Our numbers stayed flat for the most part.  We raised $590 for Children's (coincidentally matching the first year total) and $270 for Our Lady of the Lake, but we gained new participants for the hospitals and a much more tightly knit relationship with them.

I want to sincerely thank each and every donor again at this point because without you we never raise over $1,800 for Children's Medical or almost $500 for Our Lady of the Lake.  It just does not happen without the support and commitment from our sponsors.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  To give you some insight into the charity as a whole, Doc Adams tweeted this month that Extra Life is on pace to possibly (possibly being a keyword, so temper that unbridled emotion and save it for meeting the goal!) raise more this year than in the past seven years combined.  Combined.  Wow.

Still to come ...

This year we are actively committing more time and more energy than ever before on the charity.  As Extra Life has grown so has our family, and we are fortunate as a group to be a part of the local Guild community.  Our entire family attended the kickoff event, and I was extremely blessed to be asked to contribute as part of the leadership team.  Joshua and I attend monthly meetings with a splendid group of people who are all every bit as passionate as we are about helping kids who need help more than anything in the world.  Our team itself has expanded as well, as my nephew is participating for the first time ever and supporting Texas Children's, which again coincidentally is the hospital the charity started with, the one that cared for Victoria Enmon.  The more invested we get in making a difference, the more closely tied to this charity we find ourselves.

In the end ...

Alright, I got carried away with the subheadings.  This year promises to be a huge event, and we have a lot of work to do to push our recruitment and fundraising totals past the limits.  I hope this post served its purpose of explaining why we Extra Life, and I hope it encourages everyone who reads to follow our progress throughout the rest of this year.

To sign up for Extra Life yourself, or to learn more please visit:
To support our hospital, Children's Medical Center, visit my donor page and select the "Support Me" button to get started with your secure, tax deductible donation.

Thanks for reading!
- Scott

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