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Found 64 results

  1. Why I Extra Life:Why I Do What I Do

    Article written by Ryan Juel, a third-year participant who raises funds for Gillette Children's Speciality Healthcare. My brother David was in a nasty car crash in April of 2008. After swerving to avoid a deer, he hit a tree, whacked his head on the steering wheel and suffered traumatic brain injury. After 4 weeks in a medically induced coma, he had to re-learn everything. He had to learn to walk, talk, eat, get dressed, everything. Things we take for granted, like opening a jug of milk or holding a hand of cards were difficult if not impossible for him after his injury. He also spent two or three months at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare at he recovered. It was tough, but he persevered. David managed to graduate high school with a 4.0 GPA. I owe a significant debt to Hennepin County Medical Center and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. They literally saved his life. And this is why I do what I do. This year I raised $1100 from my Extra Life stream. 7 3/4 hours of Dance Dance Revolution. It's a great workout, can you tell? View full article
  2. Why I Do What I Do

    Article written by Ryan Juel, a third-year participant who raises funds for Gillette Children's Speciality Healthcare. My brother David was in a nasty car crash in April of 2008. After swerving to avoid a deer, he hit a tree, whacked his head on the steering wheel and suffered traumatic brain injury. After 4 weeks in a medically induced coma, he had to re-learn everything. He had to learn to walk, talk, eat, get dressed, everything. Things we take for granted, like opening a jug of milk or holding a hand of cards were difficult if not impossible for him after his injury. He also spent two or three months at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare at he recovered. It was tough, but he persevered. David managed to graduate high school with a 4.0 GPA. I owe a significant debt to Hennepin County Medical Center and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. They literally saved his life. And this is why I do what I do. This year I raised $1100 from my Extra Life stream. 7 3/4 hours of Dance Dance Revolution. It's a great workout, can you tell?
  3. For My Son, Phoenix

    Article written by Michael Wiltfong, a fourth-year participant who plays for St. Louis Children's Hospital. I started Extra Life four years ago after the birth of my son, Phoenix Joeseph. Early into the pregnancy we found out he was going to be born with a defect called gastroscesis. Basically, he has a hole in his abdomen and his intestines were developing outside his body. I was fresh out of the military and had recently laid off when the due date drew near. We drove an hour into the city to see a specialist every week to make sure he was safe and growing. The day he was born, the greatest day of my life, I saw my baby boy get taken to surgery seconds after coming into the world. After a successful surgery he was in the NICU and his mother and I didn’t want to leave his side, unfortunately we would have to after her 3-day recovery period. Luckily a nurse was kind enough to tell a member of the hospital staff our situation and they helped us get a room at the Ronald McDonald House and a small care package of essentials for Phoenix. I never forgot the generosity of these people so I promised to repay that kindness. So four years and almost $2,000 dollars later I keep to that promise, I do it to give hope to not only the children but to the parents as well, so they know people out there hear their call and answer it proudly.
  4. Why I Extra Life:For My Son, Phoenix

    Article written by Michael Wiltfong, a fourth-year participant who plays for St. Louis Children's Hospital. I started Extra Life four years ago after the birth of my son, Phoenix Joeseph. Early into the pregnancy we found out he was going to be born with a defect called gastroscesis. Basically, he has a hole in his abdomen and his intestines were developing outside his body. I was fresh out of the military and had recently laid off when the due date drew near. We drove an hour into the city to see a specialist every week to make sure he was safe and growing. The day he was born, the greatest day of my life, I saw my baby boy get taken to surgery seconds after coming into the world. After a successful surgery he was in the NICU and his mother and I didn’t want to leave his side, unfortunately we would have to after her 3-day recovery period. Luckily a nurse was kind enough to tell a member of the hospital staff our situation and they helped us get a room at the Ronald McDonald House and a small care package of essentials for Phoenix. I never forgot the generosity of these people so I promised to repay that kindness. So four years and almost $2,000 dollars later I keep to that promise, I do it to give hope to not only the children but to the parents as well, so they know people out there hear their call and answer it proudly. View full article
  5. I Extra Life For Jacob

    Article written by Nicole Ryan, a first-year participant who plays for Boston Children's Hospital. Extra Life speaks to my heart on several levels. The main reason I signed up this year is because of my son, Jacob. The little boy he is now is such a different child to who he was in early 2016. I do not know that we could have gotten him safely along without the loving care of Boston Children's Hospital. Jacob is a 7-year-old boy in second grade who loves his service poodle, trains, bridges, tunnels and his iPad. He is funny, loving, curious, open-hearted, caring, sweet, sassy, challenging. He also happens to be autistic. Early 2016 was a strange time for our family because our formerly cheerful and sweet boy had suddenly turned anything but. Outbursts were a daily thing in our home, some of them violent, some of them deeply scary. The pain he must have felt is beyond what I can imagine, and left him banging his head and lashing out as those he very truly loved. This was not how he wanted to be, or how anyone would ever want to be, but as his mom I had no idea who to call or what to do. A day came where he had such violent episodes that I called 911. There was no way his father and I could safely transport him on our own to an emergency room. We needed help. I did not even think twice when I climbed into the ambulance with him. I asked for Boston Children's Hospital. I knew they could help, and they did. Mental health issues and mental illness, especially in children, is something that is danced around and shied away from. It is a topic that needs to be discussed. When we got to BCH, we were received with respect and care. They wanted to see my son safely looked after, too. The team at BCH carefully discussed options with us, ruled out physical illnesses, involved every appropriate service that could help him and guide with compassion and clarity. My son, just 5 years old, needed psychiatric hospitalization. They stood by and found a bed for him in an appropriate unit elsewhere and made sure that as his parents, we understood what this would mean and what to expect. They prepared us for the worst while working for the best. Jacob spent two weeks in a pediatric psychiatric unit specializing in working with children with cognitive disorders like autism. He was diagnosed with a co-morbid condition called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). Treatment began and continued when he came home. It was like seeing my son anew all over again when he came home. His smile returned. His loving nature shone like a star. He found his words again and has had ever so much to tell us since. He found the bond with his service poodle Blossom and realized how unbreakable it is. He is happy, gregarious, challenging and most of all content in his own skin. Where we would be today if BCH's ER staff had not cared; had not been so thorough and patient with us, I have no idea. There aren't enough words to express the gratitude I have for the help we received. I'm looking forward to fundraising over the next year to help hospitals like this continue to help families like mine and kids like Jacob.
  6. Article written by Nicole Ryan, a first-year participant who plays for Boston Children's Hospital. Extra Life speaks to my heart on several levels. The main reason I signed up this year is because of my son, Jacob. The little boy he is now is such a different child to who he was in early 2016. I do not know that we could have gotten him safely along without the loving care of Boston Children's Hospital. Jacob is a 7-year-old boy in second grade who loves his service poodle, trains, bridges, tunnels and his iPad. He is funny, loving, curious, open-hearted, caring, sweet, sassy, challenging. He also happens to be autistic. Early 2016 was a strange time for our family because our formerly cheerful and sweet boy had suddenly turned anything but. Outbursts were a daily thing in our home, some of them violent, some of them deeply scary. The pain he must have felt is beyond what I can imagine, and left him banging his head and lashing out as those he very truly loved. This was not how he wanted to be, or how anyone would ever want to be, but as his mom I had no idea who to call or what to do. A day came where he had such violent episodes that I called 911. There was no way his father and I could safely transport him on our own to an emergency room. We needed help. I did not even think twice when I climbed into the ambulance with him. I asked for Boston Children's Hospital. I knew they could help, and they did. Mental health issues and mental illness, especially in children, is something that is danced around and shied away from. It is a topic that needs to be discussed. When we got to BCH, we were received with respect and care. They wanted to see my son safely looked after, too. The team at BCH carefully discussed options with us, ruled out physical illnesses, involved every appropriate service that could help him and guide with compassion and clarity. My son, just 5 years old, needed psychiatric hospitalization. They stood by and found a bed for him in an appropriate unit elsewhere and made sure that as his parents, we understood what this would mean and what to expect. They prepared us for the worst while working for the best. Jacob spent two weeks in a pediatric psychiatric unit specializing in working with children with cognitive disorders like autism. He was diagnosed with a co-morbid condition called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). Treatment began and continued when he came home. It was like seeing my son anew all over again when he came home. His smile returned. His loving nature shone like a star. He found his words again and has had ever so much to tell us since. He found the bond with his service poodle Blossom and realized how unbreakable it is. He is happy, gregarious, challenging and most of all content in his own skin. Where we would be today if BCH's ER staff had not cared; had not been so thorough and patient with us, I have no idea. There aren't enough words to express the gratitude I have for the help we received. I'm looking forward to fundraising over the next year to help hospitals like this continue to help families like mine and kids like Jacob. View full article
  7. Article written by Ben Gerber, a sixth-year participant who plays for Boston Children's Hospital. I first learned about Extra Life six years ago from an online post from a fellow gamer. It means an awful lot to support the patients at Boston Children’s Hospital. My daughter was one - my daughter will be one again early next year. My youngest daughter was born with a right unilateral cleft lip. Her first surgery happened at age 2 and two weeks ago, she had her fifth surgery at age 8. Her surgeon is the best in the world and to him this is a walk in the park, but for us it’s a biggie, and for her, it was a stupendously huge deal. The surgery was two and a half hours, and we were able to take her home that night. She was very tired and after four hours had passed, she had her first tentative sips of apple juice. “Dad?” she asked. “Yeah hon,” I anxiously replied, expecting a request for some pain medicine, or another ice pack. “Can we play a game?” While she was confined to the couch by doctor's orders, we wrangled up a breakfast tray and my copy of Love Letter and something pretty amazing happened. For the fifteen minutes we played this simple little sixteen card game, she forgot she was just hours out of surgery. There was laughter as she got the first three points before I scored even one, and she concentrated on the game and the enjoyment it offered to the point where her mind was off of her face and what had been done to it. Over the next several days, I would see this again and again. Despite being tired we would keep on playing games. The next day it was more simple games. We tackled Zombie Dice, more Love Letter and my squirrel game prototype. While sleeping was an issue for her, and she would spend some time zoned out into a movie, her best avenue of escape was gaming. I think she started to realize this as well. Towards the end of any pain medicine cycle, she’d make a point of asking to play a game. There’s something very amazing about the mind’s ability to focus on a task that’s enjoyable and literally exclude the stuff that’s not. How often have you played a game and managed to push off that unpleasant task looming at work? A night’s gaming for me is an escape just as total as a wonderful movie or an enthralling book. On her second full day of recovery, she put her hands on her hips and insisted on something a little stronger than a ten-minute game. She was also at the point in her recovery where swelling was going down and noticing the pain was taking a front seat. No one likes to watch their kid suffer through a painful experience, and that kid wasn't too keen on it either. So we distracted each other with Castle Panic and Forbidden Desert. We upped the difficulty on Forbidden Desert for the first time and managed to construct our air ship and get out of that parched landscape just before we ran out of water! Next, we defended our castle as it was besieged by wave after wave of nasty monsters and giant boulders. We managed to pull off another victory, even the at the end we had to sacrifice the Wizard’s tower to do so. That was several hours mixed in with some smaller games as well that passed so quickly for her. It was great to see - greater to be a part of it. It also did amazing things for my peace of mind as well, distracting me just as thoroughly as it distracted her. After that, her body was exhausted and her mind tired from a good mental workout. She did something she hasn't done in years – she took a nap. A lengthy one at that. Consider what happened here – pain medicine would take the edge off but wouldn't make her forget the experience. TV was distracting but that distraction faded fast. Games though, well there was something else entirely going on here. We’d strategize together. She’d laugh over her wins and has begun to take her defeats with grace and good sportsmanship. We’d discuss what happened afterwards and allow the game to make a story that she’d bring up throughout the day. Using her mind to focus on something so completely, she forgot – sometimes literally, entirely forgot what she was going through. Every day since that day has been better for her and today is the day that things start returning to normal. I’m back at work, she’s back at school and life is going on. No more pain medicine is needed in her case, and when she smiles, she can do so without it turning into a grimace. She did make me promise though that tonight we’d play another game. Who am I to say no?
  8. Article written by Ben Gerber, a sixth-year participant who plays for Boston Children's Hospital. I first learned about Extra Life six years ago from an online post from a fellow gamer. It means an awful lot to support the patients at Boston Children’s Hospital. My daughter was one - my daughter will be one again early next year. My youngest daughter was born with a right unilateral cleft lip. Her first surgery happened at age 2 and two weeks ago, she had her fifth surgery at age 8. Her surgeon is the best in the world and to him this is a walk in the park, but for us it’s a biggie, and for her, it was a stupendously huge deal. The surgery was two and a half hours, and we were able to take her home that night. She was very tired and after four hours had passed, she had her first tentative sips of apple juice. “Dad?” she asked. “Yeah hon,” I anxiously replied, expecting a request for some pain medicine, or another ice pack. “Can we play a game?” While she was confined to the couch by doctor's orders, we wrangled up a breakfast tray and my copy of Love Letter and something pretty amazing happened. For the fifteen minutes we played this simple little sixteen card game, she forgot she was just hours out of surgery. There was laughter as she got the first three points before I scored even one, and she concentrated on the game and the enjoyment it offered to the point where her mind was off of her face and what had been done to it. Over the next several days, I would see this again and again. Despite being tired we would keep on playing games. The next day it was more simple games. We tackled Zombie Dice, more Love Letter and my squirrel game prototype. While sleeping was an issue for her, and she would spend some time zoned out into a movie, her best avenue of escape was gaming. I think she started to realize this as well. Towards the end of any pain medicine cycle, she’d make a point of asking to play a game. There’s something very amazing about the mind’s ability to focus on a task that’s enjoyable and literally exclude the stuff that’s not. How often have you played a game and managed to push off that unpleasant task looming at work? A night’s gaming for me is an escape just as total as a wonderful movie or an enthralling book. On her second full day of recovery, she put her hands on her hips and insisted on something a little stronger than a ten-minute game. She was also at the point in her recovery where swelling was going down and noticing the pain was taking a front seat. No one likes to watch their kid suffer through a painful experience, and that kid wasn't too keen on it either. So we distracted each other with Castle Panic and Forbidden Desert. We upped the difficulty on Forbidden Desert for the first time and managed to construct our air ship and get out of that parched landscape just before we ran out of water! Next, we defended our castle as it was besieged by wave after wave of nasty monsters and giant boulders. We managed to pull off another victory, even the at the end we had to sacrifice the Wizard’s tower to do so. That was several hours mixed in with some smaller games as well that passed so quickly for her. It was great to see - greater to be a part of it. It also did amazing things for my peace of mind as well, distracting me just as thoroughly as it distracted her. After that, her body was exhausted and her mind tired from a good mental workout. She did something she hasn't done in years – she took a nap. A lengthy one at that. Consider what happened here – pain medicine would take the edge off but wouldn't make her forget the experience. TV was distracting but that distraction faded fast. Games though, well there was something else entirely going on here. We’d strategize together. She’d laugh over her wins and has begun to take her defeats with grace and good sportsmanship. We’d discuss what happened afterwards and allow the game to make a story that she’d bring up throughout the day. Using her mind to focus on something so completely, she forgot – sometimes literally, entirely forgot what she was going through. Every day since that day has been better for her and today is the day that things start returning to normal. I’m back at work, she’s back at school and life is going on. No more pain medicine is needed in her case, and when she smiles, she can do so without it turning into a grimace. She did make me promise though that tonight we’d play another game. Who am I to say no? View full article
  9. Article written by Jack Strider, a third-year participant who plays for Ann and Robert Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. About two years ago, I was in Boston studying mechanical engineering at a small tech school. I hated everything I was doing with my life. Boston was an angry city that I didn't vibe with, my major was difficult and it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. Not to mention the oppressive amount of work it came with, and on top of all of that my college was horrible at dealing with mental health issues. I ended up slipping into a pretty deep depression. Unfortunately, it didn't get magically better once I started going to counseling like everyone hopes. I would spend days in bed, barely eating anything and completely drained of energy. The only thing that could get me to smile, even though that was the last thing I wanted to do, were YouTubers and Twitch streamers. Once I finally started to get footing on my depression, I realized what a massive help watching the content creators were to me. In the same way they helped me, I want to help others. I was already doing YouTube videos at the time, but I didn't like how I had no way of instantly communicating with my audience. It felt very one-sided. I started my Twitch channel with the goal of creating a positive community based on supporting those in a dark place or suffering from mental health issues. I know there are so many people in the world going through exactly what I did or worse and I want to do everything in my power to help them. If that means being live and a goofball just to put a smile on their face, then so be it. I hope that by spreading my story I can not only spread awareness for these issues, but also let them know they aren't alone, that they have a home in my community with people who understand what they are going through. I want them to know that people are here to listen. I knew I couldn't stop there, I had seen people streaming for charity as well and knew that was perfect for my stream as well. I can help people in my community while raising money for children in need. My first year with Extra Life I was able to raise over $1,000 and was so incredibly proud of my community. My goal is to raise another $1k in 2018 and every year from that point on. View full article
  10. I Extra Life to Help Others

    Article written by Jack Strider, a third-year participant who plays for Ann and Robert Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. About two years ago, I was in Boston studying mechanical engineering at a small tech school. I hated everything I was doing with my life. Boston was an angry city that I didn't vibe with, my major was difficult and it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. Not to mention the oppressive amount of work it came with, and on top of all of that my college was horrible at dealing with mental health issues. I ended up slipping into a pretty deep depression. Unfortunately, it didn't get magically better once I started going to counseling like everyone hopes. I would spend days in bed, barely eating anything and completely drained of energy. The only thing that could get me to smile, even though that was the last thing I wanted to do, were YouTubers and Twitch streamers. Once I finally started to get footing on my depression, I realized what a massive help watching the content creators were to me. In the same way they helped me, I want to help others. I was already doing YouTube videos at the time, but I didn't like how I had no way of instantly communicating with my audience. It felt very one-sided. I started my Twitch channel with the goal of creating a positive community based on supporting those in a dark place or suffering from mental health issues. I know there are so many people in the world going through exactly what I did or worse and I want to do everything in my power to help them. If that means being live and a goofball just to put a smile on their face, then so be it. I hope that by spreading my story I can not only spread awareness for these issues, but also let them know they aren't alone, that they have a home in my community with people who understand what they are going through. I want them to know that people are here to listen. I knew I couldn't stop there, I had seen people streaming for charity as well and knew that was perfect for my stream as well. I can help people in my community while raising money for children in need. My first year with Extra Life I was able to raise over $1,000 and was so incredibly proud of my community. My goal is to raise another $1k in 2018 and every year from that point on.
  11. Article written by Laura Andrews, a third-year participants who plays for KU Medical Center in Kansas City. I've been doing Extra Life for three years now. My friend, Lora, was working hard and promoting the KC Guild. I couldn't help but get sucked into it eventually. I love to game and my first daughter was even named Zelda, and my second child Alleria, named from World of Warcraft. At time of my recruitment I was freshly dealing with Alleria's illness. You see, my daughter was born November 9, 2014 with three holes in her heart. They spotted only one before she was born and we were informed it was nothing to worry about because many ventricular septal defects (VSD) close on their own and most go unnoticed. Unfortunately, the biggest hole that was the VSD was not the problem, nor was the tiny atrial septal defect. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) was the problem. That hole is something we are all born with and it closes after birth. Alleria's hole did not. Other than the fact that she wouldn’t sleep, she seemed just like a normal baby for the first couple weeks. It got worse, she started screaming and suffered weight loss. She was failing to thrive. Four weeks after she was born the doctors knew this was a problem. I won't lie for a while I couldn't take pictures. I didn't want to remember how thin she was. Her chest would sink in as she was breathing, she had to be at an incline to sleep, and she cried non-stop. I was devastated and I felt like I had somehow failed a parent. I was going between two hospitals and one began saying that I just must be starving my child. They didn't want to listen to the children's hospital literally across the street. I ditched the normal hospital angry and hurt. The children's hospital told me to stop breast feeding and to start giving her bottles with extra scoops of formula. I was fattening her up so that they could perform the best possible procedure. She was lucky. By the time of the procedure, she was in heart failure, her heart taking up ¾ of her chest cavity. Without that procedure she wouldn't be the curly haired little cutie she is today. She isn't doctor free at this point. The VSD is still slightly open and she has an abnormal aortic valve with mild stenosis, and possible COA. It seems like a lot but it isn't affecting her quality of life at this time and she is running around like a mad woman. I can't imagine what my life would be like without the people and the doctors who supported me during this time. So when I learned of Extra Life I needed to be a part of this. My child might not have been seen at a Children's Miracle Network Hospital but that does not matter. What matters is giving back so that the love and care that my family got will reach those families who need it. I am part of the Kansas City Guild and I play for children just like mine at KU Pediatrics. View full article
  12. Article written by Laura Andrews, a third-year participants who plays for KU Medical Center in Kansas City. I've been doing Extra Life for three years now. My friend, Lora, was working hard and promoting the KC Guild. I couldn't help but get sucked into it eventually. I love to game and my first daughter was even named Zelda, and my second child Alleria, named from World of Warcraft. At time of my recruitment I was freshly dealing with Alleria's illness. You see, my daughter was born November 9, 2014 with three holes in her heart. They spotted only one before she was born and we were informed it was nothing to worry about because many ventricular septal defects (VSD) close on their own and most go unnoticed. Unfortunately, the biggest hole that was the VSD was not the problem, nor was the tiny atrial septal defect. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) was the problem. That hole is something we are all born with and it closes after birth. Alleria's hole did not. Other than the fact that she wouldn’t sleep, she seemed just like a normal baby for the first couple weeks. It got worse, she started screaming and suffered weight loss. She was failing to thrive. Four weeks after she was born the doctors knew this was a problem. I won't lie for a while I couldn't take pictures. I didn't want to remember how thin she was. Her chest would sink in as she was breathing, she had to be at an incline to sleep, and she cried non-stop. I was devastated and I felt like I had somehow failed a parent. I was going between two hospitals and one began saying that I just must be starving my child. They didn't want to listen to the children's hospital literally across the street. I ditched the normal hospital angry and hurt. The children's hospital told me to stop breast feeding and to start giving her bottles with extra scoops of formula. I was fattening her up so that they could perform the best possible procedure. She was lucky. By the time of the procedure, she was in heart failure, her heart taking up ¾ of her chest cavity. Without that procedure she wouldn't be the curly haired little cutie she is today. She isn't doctor free at this point. The VSD is still slightly open and she has an abnormal aortic valve with mild stenosis, and possible COA. It seems like a lot but it isn't affecting her quality of life at this time and she is running around like a mad woman. I can't imagine what my life would be like without the people and the doctors who supported me during this time. So when I learned of Extra Life I needed to be a part of this. My child might not have been seen at a Children's Miracle Network Hospital but that does not matter. What matters is giving back so that the love and care that my family got will reach those families who need it. I am part of the Kansas City Guild and I play for children just like mine at KU Pediatrics.
  13. Article written by Canadian Zangeif, a fourth-year participant who raises money for the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. 2013 was the best and worst year of my life. My wife and I were expecting our first child and every day waiting for him was electric. Our son was born September 2, 2013 after an emergency c-section. The labour was tough on both my boy, Magnus and my wife, Jennifer, but they made it through and the feeling of joy was indescribable. My wife and I had to stay in the hospital due to complications with the c-section, and Magnus was transferred to the NICU because he had to be fed intravenously, due to trouble eating because of an obstruction in his bowels. The doctors started planning for surgery. Those days were tough, we were pretty much living out of the hospital and I spent more than my fair share sleepoing on the floor, going to and from work in the hospital. The surgery went well, and then as recovery was observed it turned out Magnus developed a blood clot which was showering pieces into his lungs so Magnus was then put on a ventilator. His health slowly started to fade because he was unable to fight the infection and he was too young to handle the clot busters. I vividly remember a moment when he opened his eyes for only a moment and it gave us hope. Late on the night of December 7, we got the call that everyone from our family should come right away because Magnus wasn’t doing well. We rushed out of bed and out the door without thinking, refusing to believe the worst. Magnus left us that night. My wife and I went through many phases in our grief as time passed. Eventually we settled on being thankful to everything the children’s hospital did because we did get three months and five days longer with our angel Magnus, thanks to their support. Losing a child is something that isn’t supposed to happen, it changes you. Through our grief I noticed an advertisement for Extra Life and I knew I had to participate to help other families from knowing this pain. We have been participating ever since then and have raised a lot of money through friends and family over the years and it feels good to do this in our sons honour. Thank you for listening to our story and why we do extra life. View full article
  14. I Extra Life in Legacy of My Son

    Article written by Canadian Zangeif, a fourth-year participant who raises money for the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. 2013 was the best and worst year of my life. My wife and I were expecting our first child and every day waiting for him was electric. Our son was born September 2, 2013 after an emergency c-section. The labour was tough on both my boy, Magnus and my wife, Jennifer, but they made it through and the feeling of joy was indescribable. My wife and I had to stay in the hospital due to complications with the c-section, and Magnus was transferred to the NICU because he had to be fed intravenously, due to trouble eating because of an obstruction in his bowels. The doctors started planning for surgery. Those days were tough, we were pretty much living out of the hospital and I spent more than my fair share sleepoing on the floor, going to and from work in the hospital. The surgery went well, and then as recovery was observed it turned out Magnus developed a blood clot which was showering pieces into his lungs so Magnus was then put on a ventilator. His health slowly started to fade because he was unable to fight the infection and he was too young to handle the clot busters. I vividly remember a moment when he opened his eyes for only a moment and it gave us hope. Late on the night of December 7, we got the call that everyone from our family should come right away because Magnus wasn’t doing well. We rushed out of bed and out the door without thinking, refusing to believe the worst. Magnus left us that night. My wife and I went through many phases in our grief as time passed. Eventually we settled on being thankful to everything the children’s hospital did because we did get three months and five days longer with our angel Magnus, thanks to their support. Losing a child is something that isn’t supposed to happen, it changes you. Through our grief I noticed an advertisement for Extra Life and I knew I had to participate to help other families from knowing this pain. We have been participating ever since then and have raised a lot of money through friends and family over the years and it feels good to do this in our sons honour. Thank you for listening to our story and why we do extra life.
  15. Article written by Sid Wing, a fourth-year participant who plays for Children's of Alabama. Some have asked - "Why do you do this 'ExtraLife' thing?" For kids like my Grand-nephew Cyrus. Last year he celebrated his 3rd Birthday, began attending developmental preschool, and took his first steps! None of this would have even been possible with out Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital. Who knows what amazing things will happen for him THIS year! At 28 weeks gestation, we learned that Cyrus had a “constellation of defects” that pointed to a genetic disorder. His mom, my neice, had to have an amnio-reduction procedure at Vanderbilt two weeks later, in order to avoid amniotic fluid-related complications. At the same time, the team took extra fluid in order to determine whether there was a genetic cause for Cyrus’ many defects. Cyrus was born by emergency C-section on October 22, 2013. He had an APGAR score of 2. The NICU had already been alerted about his condition, and we already had a team dedicated to each of his systems. The entire medical staff there were attentive, supportive, and collaborative with us regarding his care and treatment. There was no stone left unturned; because of Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital, Cyrus, for whom the chromosomal anomalies should have been a death sentence, is alive to celebrate his third birthday and reach new milestones. View full article
  16. I Extra Life for Cyrus

    Article written by Sid Wing, a fourth-year participant who plays for Children's of Alabama. Some have asked - "Why do you do this 'ExtraLife' thing?" For kids like my Grand-nephew Cyrus. Last year he celebrated his 3rd Birthday, began attending developmental preschool, and took his first steps! None of this would have even been possible with out Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital. Who knows what amazing things will happen for him THIS year! At 28 weeks gestation, we learned that Cyrus had a “constellation of defects” that pointed to a genetic disorder. His mom, my neice, had to have an amnio-reduction procedure at Vanderbilt two weeks later, in order to avoid amniotic fluid-related complications. At the same time, the team took extra fluid in order to determine whether there was a genetic cause for Cyrus’ many defects. Cyrus was born by emergency C-section on October 22, 2013. He had an APGAR score of 2. The NICU had already been alerted about his condition, and we already had a team dedicated to each of his systems. The entire medical staff there were attentive, supportive, and collaborative with us regarding his care and treatment. There was no stone left unturned; because of Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital, Cyrus, for whom the chromosomal anomalies should have been a death sentence, is alive to celebrate his third birthday and reach new milestones.
  17. Article written by Lora Williams, a fourth-year participant who plays for KU Pediatrics, The University of Kansas Medical Center. I've been doing Extra Life for four years and at the core of why I do it is my mom. My mom is 61 and is the smartest and strongest person I know. She loves to garden, travel, and read. She loves a good mystery and is always wanting to know more about the history of everything. My mom was born in the 50s with a birth defect called clubfoot in both of her feet. That means all the tendons, muscles, and bones weren't where they belonged when she was born. Throughout her childhood, she underwent countless surgeries, wore braces, and missed a ton of school. Surgery then wasn’t what it is now, and although my mom can walk, it’s not without much struggle and pain. When I was a young kid, you could hardly tell my mom had any problems at all. Then in the course of a year or two everything shifted and my mom became quite sick. Sick beyond just her birth defect. Sick to the point she had to quite work and go on full-time disability. For a few years, the doctors thought she had lupus. But if House taught us anything: it’s never lupus. Instead, she was diagnosed with a rare condition called Porphyria cutanea tarda. Porphyria causes sun sensitivity which creates sores on her skin as well as sickles her blood cells. Needless to say, she gets sick and tired when out in the sun for too long. She also developed chronic joint and bone problems and has had both of her hips replaced in the last 10 years. The amount of pain my mother is in during her daily life is an amount I cannot imagine. It’s amazing she even gets out of bed. She takes pain meds that would probably kill some people. Thankfully, her doctors believe her and give her the medicine she needs to make life bearable. And with the help of canes and walkers, she gets around where she wants. From middle school until now I’ve been a primary caregiver for my mother. I helped make dinner, get things around the house, take her to appointments, and more. However, my mother has attended almost every performance of mine and even comes to my shows in adulthood. She’s been the best mother and my only parent for all my life. I’m not sure how much of her daily life now would be improved with better care in hospitals as a kid, but judging from what I know of people my age with clubbed foot, surgery has improved greatly. Lots of things have improved greatly and that’s a lot to do with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. But it’s not just the children in the hospitals that CMN Hospitals impacts: it’s also the families. I’ve had just as much fun meeting the siblings of Miracle kids as I have the “sick” kids themselves. The Miracle kids get a lot of attention, but CMN Hospitals makes sure no one is forgotten. It’s the little things like that that keep me doing Extra Life. They don’t forget about the family dynamic. As a child caregiver, this means a lot to me. I saw both ways you could live your life: through my eyes as a healthy child and through the eyes of a caregiver to someone who has never been healthy. Every year, I meet more and more people CMN Hospitals impacts and I find more and more reasons to keep doing it. Not only does it change lives for those in the hospital, but it changes the lives of those who do Extra Life. It has changed my life. It allows me to give back doing things I enjoy and remind myself of the important things in the world. Like health. And family. And sometimes, fun! Extra Life has also given me a huge community. It feels like home. All thanks to the person my mom has made me today. View full article
  18. Article written by Lora Williams, a fourth-year participant who plays for KU Pediatrics, The University of Kansas Medical Center. I've been doing Extra Life for four years and at the core of why I do it is my mom. My mom is 61 and is the smartest and strongest person I know. She loves to garden, travel, and read. She loves a good mystery and is always wanting to know more about the history of everything. My mom was born in the 50s with a birth defect called clubfoot in both of her feet. That means all the tendons, muscles, and bones weren't where they belonged when she was born. Throughout her childhood, she underwent countless surgeries, wore braces, and missed a ton of school. Surgery then wasn’t what it is now, and although my mom can walk, it’s not without much struggle and pain. When I was a young kid, you could hardly tell my mom had any problems at all. Then in the course of a year or two everything shifted and my mom became quite sick. Sick beyond just her birth defect. Sick to the point she had to quite work and go on full-time disability. For a few years, the doctors thought she had lupus. But if House taught us anything: it’s never lupus. Instead, she was diagnosed with a rare condition called Porphyria cutanea tarda. Porphyria causes sun sensitivity which creates sores on her skin as well as sickles her blood cells. Needless to say, she gets sick and tired when out in the sun for too long. She also developed chronic joint and bone problems and has had both of her hips replaced in the last 10 years. The amount of pain my mother is in during her daily life is an amount I cannot imagine. It’s amazing she even gets out of bed. She takes pain meds that would probably kill some people. Thankfully, her doctors believe her and give her the medicine she needs to make life bearable. And with the help of canes and walkers, she gets around where she wants. From middle school until now I’ve been a primary caregiver for my mother. I helped make dinner, get things around the house, take her to appointments, and more. However, my mother has attended almost every performance of mine and even comes to my shows in adulthood. She’s been the best mother and my only parent for all my life. I’m not sure how much of her daily life now would be improved with better care in hospitals as a kid, but judging from what I know of people my age with clubbed foot, surgery has improved greatly. Lots of things have improved greatly and that’s a lot to do with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. But it’s not just the children in the hospitals that CMN Hospitals impacts: it’s also the families. I’ve had just as much fun meeting the siblings of Miracle kids as I have the “sick” kids themselves. The Miracle kids get a lot of attention, but CMN Hospitals makes sure no one is forgotten. It’s the little things like that that keep me doing Extra Life. They don’t forget about the family dynamic. As a child caregiver, this means a lot to me. I saw both ways you could live your life: through my eyes as a healthy child and through the eyes of a caregiver to someone who has never been healthy. Every year, I meet more and more people CMN Hospitals impacts and I find more and more reasons to keep doing it. Not only does it change lives for those in the hospital, but it changes the lives of those who do Extra Life. It has changed my life. It allows me to give back doing things I enjoy and remind myself of the important things in the world. Like health. And family. And sometimes, fun! Extra Life has also given me a huge community. It feels like home. All thanks to the person my mom has made me today.
  19. I Extra Life to Help Other Families

    Article written by Jan Alexander Vitturi-Lochra, a fourth-year participant who plays for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago A couple of years ago I was asked to work on a pro bono campaign for Extra Life due to my nerdy love for my PS4. I did not know anything about Extra Life back then but ever since that day I have been a firm supporter, recruiting people, starting a team and pushing for every possible donation possible. Almost two and a half years ago, my first daughter, Annina was born with a port wine stain that covered her entire left cheek and her lower eye lid. To me she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen but doctors right away started consulting and checking her. As a first time parent, every little thing freaks you a bit and my wife and I were just left there wondering and hoping that nothing was serious. Morning came and new doctors informed us of what was happening. Port wine stains are a malformation of the blood vessels, and since her stain was really close to eye, there was the possibility that my daughter might have glaucoma and some more serious issues with her front right temple. For the next year and a half, Annina had laser treatments every two months at Lurie Children’s Hospital to reduce the size of the port wine stain. Three more treatments after that required full anesthesia and we’re now looking toward her last procedure this October. As she gets older, she may require more treatments. It is truly amazing how different of a person you become when you become a parent. Looking back at my situation I smile at how stressed and worried I was and I am fortunate enough to be able to smile because my daughter’s situation was truly nothing compared to what some parents go through. Sitting in the waiting rooms at the Lurie Children's, I have seen kids with all sort of problems and I could see the same feelings I had in their parents eyes but for a lot of them, smiles are not that easy because their situations are real and serious. That is what really connects me to Extra Life. A lot of people still to this day joke that I do this because I want to game but they don’t understand what gaming truly means to kids that face situations that no kid should ever face. The feeling that I get when I realize that my efforts are actually helping families and their children is immense. Over the past three years I raised $7,341 with my donations exceeding my goals each year. This year my goal this year is $2,000. It's ambitious but why not push the limits? My game-a-thon on November 4th will be streamed on all my channels · Twitch · YouTube · Facebook During my full 24 hours, I will take on anyone in PVP battles. If you enjoy beating me then all I ask is that you consider donating to my page. I will also be streaming very regularly throughout the year so don't forget to subscribe to watch and comment as I game for the kids!!! Player Stats Team Name: Spark Foundry Team Goal: $6,000 Team activities: Spark Foundry holds a game-a-thon every year for the entire office. 2017 activities include an Oculus Rift set up in the game room. A lot of team members have PS VR as well. They are looking to expand to a team in the New York office and use multiple webcams to switch viewpoints during the stream.
  20. Article written by Jan Alexander Vitturi-Lochra, a fourth-year participant who plays for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago A couple of years ago I was asked to work on a pro bono campaign for Extra Life due to my nerdy love for my PS4. I did not know anything about Extra Life back then but ever since that day I have been a firm supporter, recruiting people, starting a team and pushing for every possible donation possible. Almost two and a half years ago, my first daughter, Annina was born with a port wine stain that covered her entire left cheek and her lower eye lid. To me she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen but doctors right away started consulting and checking her. As a first time parent, every little thing freaks you a bit and my wife and I were just left there wondering and hoping that nothing was serious. Morning came and new doctors informed us of what was happening. Port wine stains are a malformation of the blood vessels, and since her stain was really close to eye, there was the possibility that my daughter might have glaucoma and some more serious issues with her front right temple. For the next year and a half, Annina had laser treatments every two months at Lurie Children’s Hospital to reduce the size of the port wine stain. Three more treatments after that required full anesthesia and we’re now looking toward her last procedure this October. As she gets older, she may require more treatments. It is truly amazing how different of a person you become when you become a parent. Looking back at my situation I smile at how stressed and worried I was and I am fortunate enough to be able to smile because my daughter’s situation was truly nothing compared to what some parents go through. Sitting in the waiting rooms at the Lurie Children's, I have seen kids with all sort of problems and I could see the same feelings I had in their parents eyes but for a lot of them, smiles are not that easy because their situations are real and serious. That is what really connects me to Extra Life. A lot of people still to this day joke that I do this because I want to game but they don’t understand what gaming truly means to kids that face situations that no kid should ever face. The feeling that I get when I realize that my efforts are actually helping families and their children is immense. Over the past three years I raised $7,341 with my donations exceeding my goals each year. This year my goal this year is $2,000. It's ambitious but why not push the limits? My game-a-thon on November 4th will be streamed on all my channels · Twitch · YouTube · Facebook During my full 24 hours, I will take on anyone in PVP battles. If you enjoy beating me then all I ask is that you consider donating to my page. I will also be streaming very regularly throughout the year so don't forget to subscribe to watch and comment as I game for the kids!!! Player Stats Team Name: Spark Foundry Team Goal: $6,000 Team activities: Spark Foundry holds a game-a-thon every year for the entire office. 2017 activities include an Oculus Rift set up in the game room. A lot of team members have PS VR as well. They are looking to expand to a team in the New York office and use multiple webcams to switch viewpoints during the stream. View full article
  21. A true advocate, Alyssa speaks openly and frequently about her struggles with mental illness. "Everyone has issues," she says. "At least I know what mine are." Since Alyssa's diagnosis at age 3, when her tantrums lasted for hours and she refused to sleep, she's made incredible strides. Coping techniques, biweekly counseling, a restrictive diet, daily medication and supplements help her handle the ups and downs of life. When Alyssa feels out of control, she goes to Cincinnati Children's mental health treatment facility. Though she doesn't look forward to these visits, she knows the staff there will love and support her until she is able to keep herself and others safe. At school, Alyssa is excelling, especially in math and reading. She loves volunteering as a peer tutor for kids with special needs. Alyssa's teachers say she has a special gift for communicating with these students, demonstrating empathy beyond her year. HOW DONATIONS HELPED ALYSSA: Funds raised through Extra Life help CMN Hospitals fund the most immediate need for local kids. In Cincinnati, Extra Life funds have been able to help the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital general fund, which supports the residential treatment facility that helps youth manage mental illness through healthy decision making, appropriate communication and behaviors. All which help kids like Alyssa, live healthy and productive lives. View full article
  22. A true advocate, Alyssa speaks openly and frequently about her struggles with mental illness. "Everyone has issues," she says. "At least I know what mine are." Since Alyssa's diagnosis at age 3, when her tantrums lasted for hours and she refused to sleep, she's made incredible strides. Coping techniques, biweekly counseling, a restrictive diet, daily medication and supplements help her handle the ups and downs of life. When Alyssa feels out of control, she goes to Cincinnati Children's mental health treatment facility. Though she doesn't look forward to these visits, she knows the staff there will love and support her until she is able to keep herself and others safe. At school, Alyssa is excelling, especially in math and reading. She loves volunteering as a peer tutor for kids with special needs. Alyssa's teachers say she has a special gift for communicating with these students, demonstrating empathy beyond her year. HOW DONATIONS HELPED ALYSSA: Funds raised through Extra Life help CMN Hospitals fund the most immediate need for local kids. In Cincinnati, Extra Life funds have been able to help the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital general fund, which supports the residential treatment facility that helps youth manage mental illness through healthy decision making, appropriate communication and behaviors. All which help kids like Alyssa, live healthy and productive lives.
  23. Article written by Jamie Studzinski, a fifth-year participant who plays for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin About eight years ago, while working at Wal-Mart, I had a chance to visit Phoenix Children's Hospital in Arizona as part of a fundraising campaign for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. I saw how comfortable the children were there, as much as being at home. We were showed how the fundraising donations were used and how it helped the children and families. At that point, I was wondering what more I could do. And then I thought back to my brother, Jeremy, who had cancer at an early stage. He was admitted to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin where he received treatment and was cured of his cancer. All this happened before I was born. And it's thanks to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin that I am able to say that he is still around today. When I heard about Extra Life, it seemed like a no brainer to me. Gaming was a huge part of my life, and my brothers when we were growing up; from video games to board games to card games, we played it all. To do what I love to do and help children and families in need, just seemed like a win-win situation to me. I am part of an Extra Life team. Our team name is Phoenix Down, because we are giving kids a second chance. We are changing lives. And I think that name speaks a ton to what we are doing. Last year we raised over $5K for Children's Hospital and I couldn't be more proud of the team and commitment they made! I've been doing Extra Life for five years now, and I occasionally stream for the Extra Life stream team. Its been the best experience that I can say I ever had in my life. Thank you everyone who does extra life and makes a difference!" Right now my favorite game to play is Overwatch, I have spent countless hours in the game and it really is the back bone of my charity streams.
  24. Article written by Jamie Studzinski, a fifth-year participant who plays for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin About eight years ago, while working at Wal-Mart, I had a chance to visit Phoenix Children's Hospital in Arizona as part of a fundraising campaign for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. I saw how comfortable the children were there, as much as being at home. We were showed how the fundraising donations were used and how it helped the children and families. At that point, I was wondering what more I could do. And then I thought back to my brother, Jeremy, who had cancer at an early stage. He was admitted to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin where he received treatment and was cured of his cancer. All this happened before I was born. And it's thanks to the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin that I am able to say that he is still around today. When I heard about Extra Life, it seemed like a no brainer to me. Gaming was a huge part of my life, and my brothers when we were growing up; from video games to board games to card games, we played it all. To do what I love to do and help children and families in need, just seemed like a win-win situation to me. I am part of an Extra Life team. Our team name is Phoenix Down, because we are giving kids a second chance. We are changing lives. And I think that name speaks a ton to what we are doing. Last year we raised over $5K for Children's Hospital and I couldn't be more proud of the team and commitment they made! I've been doing Extra Life for five years now, and I occasionally stream for the Extra Life stream team. Its been the best experience that I can say I ever had in my life. Thank you everyone who does extra life and makes a difference!" Right now my favorite game to play is Overwatch, I have spent countless hours in the game and it really is the back bone of my charity streams. View full article
  25. Mariann Villafane teaches her students about philanthropy and fundraising through classroom activities. She encourages her students to create several fundraising activities for 10 weeks, ending with one big event, Play for a Cure. As part of the Extra Life program, the students play games throughout the evening and then reveal the final amount raised during the school year. She does this because of her belief to teach students far beyond the text book. “It is my goal at the end of our school year, our students will be engaged with Extra Life and our local hospital,” says Villafane. At the closing of the project, she takes her students to the local CMN Hospital, San Jorge Children’s Foundation to see first-hand the impact of their donations. “As long as I can, I will keep up with this amazing project in my school.” View full article