3 years ago, I saw a Facebook post by a friend about a 24-hour gaming marathon that benefits sick kids. As a life-long gamer and an inherent fan of challenges, I signed up, picked my local hospital and didn’t think much of it. Game day came and went and I was somehow able to raise $200 by playing World of Warcraft. It was fun and then I went back to my regular life. I got an email in January of the next year (2018) to join my local guilds’ kick-off meeting. Again, I was bored and had nothing to do that day so I went for it, unbeknownst to me, that my life would significantly change.
I met my local guild and in particular a local legend of sorts, Richard Moser. His vigor and excitement for Extra Life was palpable. He had tattoos, both gaming and Extra Life related, which really spoke to me and to the content of his character. We became friends and over the course of 2018 we bonded, especially at volunteer events. So much so, that we ended up becoming President (him) and Vice-President (myself) of the local guild for 2019. We had this information of our new roles just after game day, so when a new outreach opportunity presented itself, we were the leaders in working on it.
Maddox Hyde, a 14-year old, had just been informed that his cancer had reached the breaking point of the aid doctors could provide and there was nothing more that could be done. He had heard about Extra Life days before and wanted to do his own game day so that “he could be remembered as a champion and not just another kid with cancer.” Mr. Moser and myself helped to get things organized so he could do just that. Little did we know the impact he’d have.
His game day went off without a hitch. We, as an Extra Life community poured our all into advertising, much with the hashtag #TeamMaddoxEL. In the singular week preceding his game day, he was at around $5k raised by the day of his game day, $7k by the time his stream started, and by the end of the year he was well over $15k raised! This community of gamers from all over the world came together to help a kid they didn’t know have a wonderful time and set a record for Pittsburgh. On January 23rd, he lost his fight and the world lost a champion. For his efforts he was posthumously awarded the 2019 Youth Fundraiser Award from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.
Now, my game day was in November of 2018 and I had achieved a donation incentive to get an Extra Life tattoo, much as a result of Mr. Moser’s tattoo. I just didn’t know, at the time, what I wanted. After my experience with Maddox, all my thoughts on Extra Life coalesced and I knew just what I wanted. With the help of fellow Extra Lifer, Ashley Farkas, who drew up the design, I got my memorial to Maddox and a tribute to the amazing community and life-long friends I made with Extra Life permanently on my body. Maddox’s Twitch account name was MadGhost0821 and as such my design was a mad ghost holding a sign emblazoned with the letter FTK, our mantra “For The Kids”. When I started three years ago, I was a lone guy who cared about Extra Life only on game day and just the gaming marathon aspect of it. Now, thanks to #TeamMaddoxEL, I fundraise 365 days a year and just can’t see a world where I don’t Extra Life.
Jeff Prebeg is a three year Extra Lifer who is also on the Extra Life official stream team. Hailing from the Steel City (Pittsburgh, PA) Jeff uses his passion for gaming, particular retro-gaming and speedrunning, for good. You can share your Why I Extra Life story by visiting: childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org/guest-post and be sure to sign up for Extra Life to help heal kids in hospitals across North America.