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Found 11 results

  1. Joe Joe is 13 years old. He loves to swim and surf. He's been competing in track and field. His family keeps him active in school and the community by involving him in extracurricular activities and services at their local church. He never gets mad or upset, and he tries to lift up everyone around him. Joe Joe also lives with Down syndrome, a condition his doctors discovered shortly after his birth along with a rare form of cancer affecting his bone marrow. Joe Joe's mom, Kris, loves her son. "He wears us out!" she laughs, "He is an 8-to-8 kid; he is on the go all day." Joe Joe is a miracle kid in every sense of the word. He was born with a rare form of cancer called transient myeloproliferative disorder. This condition can affect fetal blood-forming organs like the liver and bone marrow. This can have wide-ranging effects from permanent organ damage to death. With the help of his skilled team of doctors, Joe Joe was able to recover from the condition and become the happy, healthy kid he is today. While Joe Joe has Down syndrome, Kris believes firmly in the advice she received from the pediatrician who helped her right after Joe Joe was born. "If you want a disabled, sick child, treat him like a disabled, sick child. You want a healthy, active child in society? Then that's how you treat him." Those few sentences have shaped how Kris and her family have raised Joe Joe, letting him live in the world without sheltering him from the challenges he has to overcome. Down syndrome arises in individuals due to a quirk that can occur in chromosome 21, often caused by an extra copy of the chromosome being present in their DNA. This extra genetic material can result in a divergence in brain development, facial structure, as well as certain developmental delays. Though they might face certain difficulties, individuals who have Down syndrome live lives very similar to those who don't have it. Those with Down syndrome have personalities, interests, and talents, with the ability to learn the same skills as people born without Down syndrome. You can watch Kris and Joe Joe on the reality series produced by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals called Real Moms. The twelve episode series follows the lives of several moms out in the world as they raise kids who deal with life-altering medical complications. The series premiered earlier this year and you can watch the entire run on YouTube for free. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. Joe Joe is 13 years old. He loves to swim and surf. He's been competing in track and field. His family keeps him active in school and the community by involving him in extracurricular activities and services at their local church. He never gets mad or upset, and he tries to lift up everyone around him. Joe Joe also lives with Down syndrome, a condition his doctors discovered shortly after his birth along with a rare form of cancer affecting his bone marrow. Joe Joe's mom, Kris, loves her son. "He wears us out!" she laughs, "He is an 8-to-8 kid; he is on the go all day." Joe Joe is a miracle kid in every sense of the word. He was born with a rare form of cancer called transient myeloproliferative disorder. This condition can affect fetal blood-forming organs like the liver and bone marrow. This can have wide-ranging effects from permanent organ damage to death. With the help of his skilled team of doctors, Joe Joe was able to recover from the condition and become the happy, healthy kid he is today. While Joe Joe has Down syndrome, Kris believes firmly in the advice she received from the pediatrician who helped her right after Joe Joe was born. "If you want a disabled, sick child, treat him like a disabled, sick child. You want a healthy, active child in society? Then that's how you treat him." Those few sentences have shaped how Kris and her family have raised Joe Joe, letting him live in the world without sheltering him from the challenges he has to overcome. Down syndrome arises in individuals due to a quirk that can occur in chromosome 21, often caused by an extra copy of the chromosome being present in their DNA. This extra genetic material can result in a divergence in brain development, facial structure, as well as certain developmental delays. Though they might face certain difficulties, individuals who have Down syndrome live lives very similar to those who don't have it. Those with Down syndrome have personalities, interests, and talents, with the ability to learn the same skills as people born without Down syndrome. You can watch Kris and Joe Joe on the reality series produced by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals called Real Moms. The twelve episode series follows the lives of several moms out in the world as they raise kids who deal with life-altering medical complications. The series premiered earlier this year and you can watch the entire run on YouTube for free. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. At PAX West this year, I had the chance to meet Kennedy, a Miracle Child from Seattle Children's Hospital. She was at the event with her father, volunteering her time and energy to share her firsthand experiences in one of the many hospitals supported by Extra Lifers across North America. This was something she had done several times over the years after managing to beat the leukemia she was diagnosed with at age 7. The former football player has had to undergo extensive surgeries to repair the damage to her body, but she maintains and spreads a bright, hopeful energy. One of the amazing things about Kennedy has been her long involvement in Extra Life. Not only has she volunteered at events like PAX West, but she is a member of the Seattle Extra Life Guild. That position has set her up to work with organizations like Wizards of the Coast to both spread the word about the work Extra Life does in hospitals as well as raise money. Back in 2017, she appeared on the official Dungeons & Dragons Game Day stream to play the tabletop game live and help the team bring in as many donations as possible. Kennedy was generous enough to step away from the Extra Life booth at PAX West for a few minutes to tell her story. --- Jack Gardner: So where does this all start? Kennedy: I was about seven. I was playing football at the time. Later in the year, I started having problems with my body. I’d have less and less energy by the minute. I wouldn’t feel that great, and I passed out a couple of times. It wasn’t going… well. We went to the doctor’s one day, they got a blood sample, and we went home. About one or two in the morning, we got a phone call saying I had leukemia. We rushed to Children’s Hospital in Seattle. [They] had everything ready, I got both my IVs in with antibiotics and everything. It’s a bit fuzzy, I don’t remember exactly a lot of it. JG: Was that scary? K: Yes, I was very concerned. Because I was 7, I didn’t know exactly what was going on. I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. Later on, I got my port in, but I was not the best at, like, blood, needles, stuff like that. JG: Trust me, I’m the same way. K: It’s not my thing. I was definitely not nice to my nurses. Screaming and crying was one of the things that has happened… all the time. JG: I’m pretty good at crying, too. K: It’s one of my specialties. We had problems with my port- JG: And what is a port? K: The port is like this little metal thing in your chest which then you access with a big needle with a little thing inside so it’s easier to get blood transfusions - I had those a lot. We had trouble with that because [the port] was moving all over the place so we had to get it removed and put in a second time. Later, I started complaining about my joints in my hips and my shoulders. We got that tested, and it turns out -I don’t exactly know what it’s called- part of the chemo made the circulation to my joints cut off, so the joints died. It hurt a lot when I walked. I had to use a wheelchair. I started first with hiking canes, then a walker, and then a wheelchair. About… two years later it was my three year mark. We saw this surgeon. His name was Chappie. He was willing to replace my hips because no one else would do that to a 10-year-old. He argued with the board all the time because they didn’t want him to do surgery on a 10-year-old. He moved, so that didn’t happen. A year later, I’m finally done with treatment. My last day, I have a bunch of photos, I had a big sign that said "Last Day of Chemo!" A couple months later, my parents were looking at different surgeons that would do it, replace my hips and such. One popped up, this doctor, he and his other surgeon were willing to do both of my hip surgeries. Just last year, I got both of them done. JG: How old are you now? K: I’m 12, almost 13. I’m going to get my shoulders replaced – we don’t know when, but it’s going to happen soon. JG: Do your joints still hurt? K: My hips don’t hurt – nothing else hurts aside from my shoulders. I can only lift them so far up, and I can’t do a lot of tasks with them. We’re working to do my shoulders. I had leukemia for four years. It was kind of a rough time. I missed so much school. I didn’t even know how I was going to pass, but I had these amazing teachers who came to my house and tutored me. Even though [leukemia] had this bad impact, it gave me this good view on how everyone should live – never second guess yourself and just always do something. JG: How did you get involved with Extra Life? K: We are really close with the hospital and everyone in the hospital. It was one of my doctors who said, "Extra Life is a gaming 24-hour thing that you can do. They want to recruit kids and their families to help them out." Me and my dad and my sister applied, so my dad emailed one of the guys and said, “Hey, my daughter had leukemia, and we’re looking at this gaming thing that you have going on. It seems really fun and we would like to help you out with that kind of stuff.” We got recruited – this is my third year coming to PAX and volunteering – so three years ago, they were like, “Hey, we are doing PAX this year, if you want to do it, Extra Life is working there and you can come along." You get a free pass and get some breaks, but you also get to help out children at the children’s hospitals. JG: Do you play a lot of games? K: Yes. I really like video games. Especially multiplayer since my sister likes to play, too. I don’t really have a favorite…. JG: I know for me, it is hard to choose just one favorite, but do you have a top three of your go-to games? K: Yes! I am a really old person, and I like Minecraft. That was the first game I ever played in my life. JG: [Laughs] Oh, gosh, you just made me feel ancient! K: It the first one I ever played. It’s a classic – I’d say it’s my favorite. My second one would be… like… little, free games on Xbox. They’re kinda short? I can’t think of a specific one. JG: It’s hard to think sometimes when you get put on the spot. K: Then probably… it’s not a genre, but I like the games where you can see the work people put into the games. Good graphic designs- even a character model where you can tell how much work went into it. I already like the game. Even one scene can change my whole perspective on a game. I really like people who do really good work and design on a game, really good coding. JG: What’s a scene that’d be an example? K: My sister plays this game called Undertale. She was playing it one day and I saw the opening scene. I really loved it. It was really well done – I felt it was really great. All the character models, her favorite was the little skeleton dude. JG: The skeleton knight and a cape or the skeleton in the hoodie? K: I think it was the skeleton knight? Yeah, the guy with the cape! I think that’s some really good design, so I think that’s really good work. JG: You’re here with Extra Life – what’s it like volunteering here and basically being a spokesperson? K: It’s really fun. You get to recruit other people into helping children and children’s hospitals. Plus, you get to have fun while doing it. You sign up and play games for 24 hours. You can play whatever you want, card games, video games. Hanging out with everybody who has been involved with Extra Life, it’s fun having conversations about video games because… I don’t have many friends who are interested in video games. So, it’s fun to talk about different kinds of games coming out or what they are doing later at PAX or what they are going to do on their lunch break. It’s fun to hang out with people who have the same interests as you. JG: Are there any hard parts that you weren’t really expecting? K: I didn’t know I had to talk to people! I thought you just stood there and gave people stuff. JG: [Laughs] That would be nice. Has everyone been good when you talked with them? K: Yeah, most people. Last year, because I was 11… not a lot of people who would listen to me because I was a child. That was pretty frustrating, but… either way, it’s pretty good. [...] It’s cool to have people interviewing me now. It’s kind of weird! [Laughs] JG: Did you play a lot of games when you were going through your treatments and recovery? K: Yes, I would bring my Xbox and leave it connected to the TV in there. I played a lot of different games on my Xbox. JG: Did you like games before that? K: Yeah, I liked games before that. I never used to have any video games or a console or anything, so I’d go over to my friend’s house and then we’d go play. I think that’s why I like playing games with other people because that’s how I started liking video games. JG: Was Minecraft the thing you played the most in the hospital? K: Yes. Oh! I also played a lot of Overcooked. My younger sister got Overcooked for her birthday. We played a LOT of Overcooked. A lot of Minecraft. A lot of free games. There was also a game room where you can grab video games or different kinds of board games that you can grab and bring up to your room. JG: What’s been your takeaway from events like PAX? K: I think it’s a really good opportunity for people who want to help support children or just anything? But you can do it in a fun and good way. You are actually interested in doing it instead of just feeling like you have to because you feel bad. JG: Does it make you feel hopeful that so many people are coming by the booth and showing interest? K: Yeah! And really just how cool people will stop by and be like, “how do we get this?” you explain how you do it and they are like, “well, I want to give back, too!” Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  4. At PAX West this year, I had the chance to meet Kennedy, a Miracle Child from Seattle Children's Hospital. She was at the event with her father, volunteering her time and energy to share her firsthand experiences in one of the many hospitals supported by Extra Lifers across North America. This was something she had done several times over the years after managing to beat the leukemia she was diagnosed with at age 7. The former football player has had to undergo extensive surgeries to repair the damage to her body, but she maintains and spreads a bright, hopeful energy. One of the amazing things about Kennedy has been her long involvement in Extra Life. Not only has she volunteered at events like PAX West, but she is a member of the Seattle Extra Life Guild. That position has set her up to work with organizations like Wizards of the Coast to both spread the word about the work Extra Life does in hospitals as well as raise money. Back in 2017, she appeared on the official Dungeons & Dragons Game Day stream to play the tabletop game live and help the team bring in as many donations as possible. Kennedy was generous enough to step away from the Extra Life booth at PAX West for a few minutes to tell her story. --- Jack Gardner: So where does this all start? Kennedy: I was about seven. I was playing football at the time. Later in the year, I started having problems with my body. I’d have less and less energy by the minute. I wouldn’t feel that great, and I passed out a couple of times. It wasn’t going… well. We went to the doctor’s one day, they got a blood sample, and we went home. About one or two in the morning, we got a phone call saying I had leukemia. We rushed to Children’s Hospital in Seattle. [They] had everything ready, I got both my IVs in with antibiotics and everything. It’s a bit fuzzy, I don’t remember exactly a lot of it. JG: Was that scary? K: Yes, I was very concerned. Because I was 7, I didn’t know exactly what was going on. I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. Later on, I got my port in, but I was not the best at, like, blood, needles, stuff like that. JG: Trust me, I’m the same way. K: It’s not my thing. I was definitely not nice to my nurses. Screaming and crying was one of the things that has happened… all the time. JG: I’m pretty good at crying, too. K: It’s one of my specialties. We had problems with my port- JG: And what is a port? K: The port is like this little metal thing in your chest which then you access with a big needle with a little thing inside so it’s easier to get blood transfusions - I had those a lot. We had trouble with that because [the port] was moving all over the place so we had to get it removed and put in a second time. Later, I started complaining about my joints in my hips and my shoulders. We got that tested, and it turns out -I don’t exactly know what it’s called- part of the chemo made the circulation to my joints cut off, so the joints died. It hurt a lot when I walked. I had to use a wheelchair. I started first with hiking canes, then a walker, and then a wheelchair. About… two years later it was my three year mark. We saw this surgeon. His name was Chappie. He was willing to replace my hips because no one else would do that to a 10-year-old. He argued with the board all the time because they didn’t want him to do surgery on a 10-year-old. He moved, so that didn’t happen. A year later, I’m finally done with treatment. My last day, I have a bunch of photos, I had a big sign that said "Last Day of Chemo!" A couple months later, my parents were looking at different surgeons that would do it, replace my hips and such. One popped up, this doctor, he and his other surgeon were willing to do both of my hip surgeries. Just last year, I got both of them done. JG: How old are you now? K: I’m 12, almost 13. I’m going to get my shoulders replaced – we don’t know when, but it’s going to happen soon. JG: Do your joints still hurt? K: My hips don’t hurt – nothing else hurts aside from my shoulders. I can only lift them so far up, and I can’t do a lot of tasks with them. We’re working to do my shoulders. I had leukemia for four years. It was kind of a rough time. I missed so much school. I didn’t even know how I was going to pass, but I had these amazing teachers who came to my house and tutored me. Even though [leukemia] had this bad impact, it gave me this good view on how everyone should live – never second guess yourself and just always do something. JG: How did you get involved with Extra Life? K: We are really close with the hospital and everyone in the hospital. It was one of my doctors who said, "Extra Life is a gaming 24-hour thing that you can do. They want to recruit kids and their families to help them out." Me and my dad and my sister applied, so my dad emailed one of the guys and said, “Hey, my daughter had leukemia, and we’re looking at this gaming thing that you have going on. It seems really fun and we would like to help you out with that kind of stuff.” We got recruited – this is my third year coming to PAX and volunteering – so three years ago, they were like, “Hey, we are doing PAX this year, if you want to do it, Extra Life is working there and you can come along." You get a free pass and get some breaks, but you also get to help out children at the children’s hospitals. JG: Do you play a lot of games? K: Yes. I really like video games. Especially multiplayer since my sister likes to play, too. I don’t really have a favorite…. JG: I know for me, it is hard to choose just one favorite, but do you have a top three of your go-to games? K: Yes! I am a really old person, and I like Minecraft. That was the first game I ever played in my life. JG: [Laughs] Oh, gosh, you just made me feel ancient! K: It the first one I ever played. It’s a classic – I’d say it’s my favorite. My second one would be… like… little, free games on Xbox. They’re kinda short? I can’t think of a specific one. JG: It’s hard to think sometimes when you get put on the spot. K: Then probably… it’s not a genre, but I like the games where you can see the work people put into the games. Good graphic designs- even a character model where you can tell how much work went into it. I already like the game. Even one scene can change my whole perspective on a game. I really like people who do really good work and design on a game, really good coding. JG: What’s a scene that’d be an example? K: My sister plays this game called Undertale. She was playing it one day and I saw the opening scene. I really loved it. It was really well done – I felt it was really great. All the character models, her favorite was the little skeleton dude. JG: The skeleton knight and a cape or the skeleton in the hoodie? K: I think it was the skeleton knight? Yeah, the guy with the cape! I think that’s some really good design, so I think that’s really good work. JG: You’re here with Extra Life – what’s it like volunteering here and basically being a spokesperson? K: It’s really fun. You get to recruit other people into helping children and children’s hospitals. Plus, you get to have fun while doing it. You sign up and play games for 24 hours. You can play whatever you want, card games, video games. Hanging out with everybody who has been involved with Extra Life, it’s fun having conversations about video games because… I don’t have many friends who are interested in video games. So, it’s fun to talk about different kinds of games coming out or what they are doing later at PAX or what they are going to do on their lunch break. It’s fun to hang out with people who have the same interests as you. JG: Are there any hard parts that you weren’t really expecting? K: I didn’t know I had to talk to people! I thought you just stood there and gave people stuff. JG: [Laughs] That would be nice. Has everyone been good when you talked with them? K: Yeah, most people. Last year, because I was 11… not a lot of people who would listen to me because I was a child. That was pretty frustrating, but… either way, it’s pretty good. [...] It’s cool to have people interviewing me now. It’s kind of weird! [Laughs] JG: Did you play a lot of games when you were going through your treatments and recovery? K: Yes, I would bring my Xbox and leave it connected to the TV in there. I played a lot of different games on my Xbox. JG: Did you like games before that? K: Yeah, I liked games before that. I never used to have any video games or a console or anything, so I’d go over to my friend’s house and then we’d go play. I think that’s why I like playing games with other people because that’s how I started liking video games. JG: Was Minecraft the thing you played the most in the hospital? K: Yes. Oh! I also played a lot of Overcooked. My younger sister got Overcooked for her birthday. We played a LOT of Overcooked. A lot of Minecraft. A lot of free games. There was also a game room where you can grab video games or different kinds of board games that you can grab and bring up to your room. JG: What’s been your takeaway from events like PAX? K: I think it’s a really good opportunity for people who want to help support children or just anything? But you can do it in a fun and good way. You are actually interested in doing it instead of just feeling like you have to because you feel bad. JG: Does it make you feel hopeful that so many people are coming by the booth and showing interest? K: Yeah! And really just how cool people will stop by and be like, “how do we get this?” you explain how you do it and they are like, “well, I want to give back, too!” Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  5. As the school season comes to a close, millions of kids across the United States prepare for a summer of relaxation following their graduation. Those children look forward to playing with their friends outside, having time to brush up on their Fortnite skills, and going off to various camps and retreats. Graduation season stands out as a wonderful time in their lives. However, as one group of kids move up in grade or don caps and gowns, another group prepares for a very different kind of graduation that ends with the ringing of a bell. Kids who enter Children's Miracle Network Hospitals for cancer treatment face a long and difficult battle toward the day they can leave and live their lives cancer-free. When the doctors caring for these children believe they have sufficiently recovered, they are led to a bell to ring in the end of their difficult journey and the beginning of a cancer-less life. The bell ringing tradition dates back to 1996 when it was begun by United States Navy Rear Admiral Irve Le Moyne. Le Moyne installed a brass bell in the center where he was receiving treatment for the cancer that eventually overtook him a year later. The bells that began appearing in cancer wards after his passing included an inscription with a short poem by the late Le Moyne: Ringing Out Ring this bell Three times well It’s toll to clearly say, My treatment’s done This course is run And I am on my way! These moments, kids ringing bells to announce their recovery, straddle the line between being heartwarming and heart-wrenching. No child should have to go through cancer treatment. However, we should celebrate when kids recover from battles with serious illnesses. Here are just a few of the kids graduating from their treatments and partaking in the ringing of the bell with all of the joy in their hearts on display. Benjamin Burke Benjamin was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after his seventh birthday. While battling his cancer, he spent time raising money to help others like himself. He and his family started a “lemonaid” stand and have raised over $100,000 to help other kids struggling to recover from cancer at the Ann & Rover H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. After three and a half years of treatment, Benjamin finally got to ring the bell at the end of April. He’s continuing to fight for other kids by becoming a national ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Grace Griffin St. Louis Children’s Hospital helped Grace through her treatment for a cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. It’s one of the most common forms of cancer in children, but that didn’t make Grace’s fight against it any easier. Traci Griffin, Grace’s mom, talked about her daughter’s journey saying, “The treatments for Grace are sometimes very brutal, sometimes very painful. She’s often not feeling well, like most kids on chemo, but she’s been extremely, extremely strong and brave throughout this whole process.” Despite the hardships, Grace fought hard and even continued attending school. Her chances of remaining cancer free are, in the words of her doctor, “very, very high.” Dylan Pogodzinski At 4 years old, Dylan was diagnosed with an extremely rare type of cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma. It’s one of the scariest kinds of cancer out there, with tumors capable of doubling in size every 48 hours. Luckily, the Pogodzinski family were able to take Dylan to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The doctors were able to make a correct diagnosis and immediately start Dylan on an intensive regimen of chemotherapy for the next five months. While he still receives monthly checkups, he was officially declared cancer-free in February and is now back attending kindergarten, happy and healthy. Peyton Richardson After Texas Children’s Hospital diagnosed Peyton with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2015, she began a long and difficult journey. It took her over two years of treatment for Peyton to get her chance to ring the bell. “You all were my best friends throughout all of this. I just love you all so much and I’m so thankful for you guys,” she said before ringing the bell while onlookers gathered to support her had tears in their eyes. “I think it will take a little bit to sink in that I’m done, I’m finished. I’m glad, I’m happy I’m done.” To help more kids reach their graduations from treatment and ring their bells, please sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals across the US and Canada!
  6. As the school season comes to a close, millions of kids across the United States prepare for a summer of relaxation following their graduation. Those children look forward to playing with their friends outside, having time to brush up on their Fortnite skills, and going off to various camps and retreats. Graduation season stands out as a wonderful time in their lives. However, as one group of kids move up in grade or don caps and gowns, another group prepares for a very different kind of graduation that ends with the ringing of a bell. Kids who enter Children's Miracle Network Hospitals for cancer treatment face a long and difficult battle toward the day they can leave and live their lives cancer-free. When the doctors caring for these children believe they have sufficiently recovered, they are led to a bell to ring in the end of their difficult journey and the beginning of a cancer-less life. The bell ringing tradition dates back to 1996 when it was begun by United States Navy Rear Admiral Irve Le Moyne. Le Moyne installed a brass bell in the center where he was receiving treatment for the cancer that eventually overtook him a year later. The bells that began appearing in cancer wards after his passing included an inscription with a short poem by the late Le Moyne: Ringing Out Ring this bell Three times well It’s toll to clearly say, My treatment’s done This course is run And I am on my way! These moments, kids ringing bells to announce their recovery, straddle the line between being heartwarming and heart-wrenching. No child should have to go through cancer treatment. However, we should celebrate when kids recover from battles with serious illnesses. Here are just a few of the kids graduating from their treatments and partaking in the ringing of the bell with all of the joy in their hearts on display. Benjamin Burke Benjamin was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after his seventh birthday. While battling his cancer, he spent time raising money to help others like himself. He and his family started a “lemonaid” stand and have raised over $100,000 to help other kids struggling to recover from cancer at the Ann & Rover H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. After three and a half years of treatment, Benjamin finally got to ring the bell at the end of April. He’s continuing to fight for other kids by becoming a national ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Grace Griffin St. Louis Children’s Hospital helped Grace through her treatment for a cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. It’s one of the most common forms of cancer in children, but that didn’t make Grace’s fight against it any easier. Traci Griffin, Grace’s mom, talked about her daughter’s journey saying, “The treatments for Grace are sometimes very brutal, sometimes very painful. She’s often not feeling well, like most kids on chemo, but she’s been extremely, extremely strong and brave throughout this whole process.” Despite the hardships, Grace fought hard and even continued attending school. Her chances of remaining cancer free are, in the words of her doctor, “very, very high.” Dylan Pogodzinski At 4 years old, Dylan was diagnosed with an extremely rare type of cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma. It’s one of the scariest kinds of cancer out there, with tumors capable of doubling in size every 48 hours. Luckily, the Pogodzinski family were able to take Dylan to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The doctors were able to make a correct diagnosis and immediately start Dylan on an intensive regimen of chemotherapy for the next five months. While he still receives monthly checkups, he was officially declared cancer-free in February and is now back attending kindergarten, happy and healthy. Peyton Richardson After Texas Children’s Hospital diagnosed Peyton with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2015, she began a long and difficult journey. It took her over two years of treatment for Peyton to get her chance to ring the bell. “You all were my best friends throughout all of this. I just love you all so much and I’m so thankful for you guys,” she said before ringing the bell while onlookers gathered to support her had tears in their eyes. “I think it will take a little bit to sink in that I’m done, I’m finished. I’m glad, I’m happy I’m done.” To help more kids reach their graduations from treatment and ring their bells, please sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals across the US and Canada! View full article
  7. Staying mentally healthy can be a difficult task. The stresses and struggles of modern life often require people sacrifice their mental health just to keep up with day-to-day living. While often people think of adults confronting mental illness, children are often dismissed as just “going through a phase” when they are facing down an oncoming mental crisis. As many as one in five children under 17 have a diagnosable mental disorder according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thankfully, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Extra Life’s amazing community are helping to build the facilities necessary for treating those kids. One of the biggest mental health projects accomplished by the fundraising of dedicated Extra Lifers definitely goes to Rooster Teeth’s efforts with Dell Children’s Medical Center in central Texas. The Rooster Teeth community rallied around the hospital to raise over $3 million over three years to fund the creation of the Rooster Teeth Healing Garden, a space for kids to play outside while still receiving the care they need. Brandy Hart, a clinical administration officer at Dell Children’s Medical Center explained the importance of the space, saying: “We know that being in a hospital for several days is not ideal. You’re removed from family and friends and often need an outlet. We treat kiddos as young as six and everyone needs physical activity. Research also shows that physical activity helps with dealing with stresses, mental illnesses, so [having access to] that space is amazing. […] It really shows that we can have a holistic approach to mental healthcare and not just what is within the walls of the hospital.” Extra Lifers support far more than just Dell Children’s, however. Hospitals across the United States and Canada are able to better provide for the mental health of kids coming through their doors. Here are just a few of the exciting things going on at a handful of the hospitals Extra Lifers fight for every year. Alberta A new mental health center for children and adolescents has been revealed. The building is set to be built in Calgary to provide walk-in services, community treatment, and a day hospital for the surrounding area. The center has been designed to provide a balance of architecture and natural space all specifically geared toward children. The construction will begin later this fall and the building will begin offering care to children starting in 2019. Colorado Suicide has become a huge problem facing the children of Colorado. In fact, it has become the leading cause of death for children aged 10-14. The state’s children are facing a crisis in mental health, but many who live there can’t get access to care. The Pediatric Mental Health Institute at Children’s Colorado wants to change that. The goal of the program is to add beds, provide education for parents and kids about mental health, reach out to kids in rural communities, and redesign parts of the hospital to better accommodate mental health needs. Ontario Toronto is home to The SickKids Centre for Brain & Mental Health, a facility and program that helps to identify and treat mental health disorders. Many of the difficulties brought on by mental illnesses, especially those in children, can be alleviated by early detection and beginning treatment as soon as possible. The center helps to reach out across the communities of Ontario, bringing specialized care into schools and hospitals across the province. Detecting and providing care for infant strokes, autism, epilepsy, and more are important parts of the center. It also conducts research to help both children and adults, paving the way for a healthier mental future. --- Attitudes regarding mental health, especially when it comes to children, are beginning to shift. People across the world are learning that a sizable number of people, both big and small, need mental health help. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so please join Extra Life in making a difference for the kids and families who seek help at your local children’s hospital.
  8. Staying mentally healthy can be a difficult task. The stresses and struggles of modern life often require people sacrifice their mental health just to keep up with day-to-day living. While often people think of adults confronting mental illness, children are often dismissed as just “going through a phase” when they are facing down an oncoming mental crisis. As many as one in five children under 17 have a diagnosable mental disorder according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thankfully, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Extra Life’s amazing community are helping to build the facilities necessary for treating those kids. One of the biggest mental health projects accomplished by the fundraising of dedicated Extra Lifers definitely goes to Rooster Teeth’s efforts with Dell Children’s Medical Center in central Texas. The Rooster Teeth community rallied around the hospital to raise over $3 million over three years to fund the creation of the Rooster Teeth Healing Garden, a space for kids to play outside while still receiving the care they need. Brandy Hart, a clinical administration officer at Dell Children’s Medical Center explained the importance of the space, saying: “We know that being in a hospital for several days is not ideal. You’re removed from family and friends and often need an outlet. We treat kiddos as young as six and everyone needs physical activity. Research also shows that physical activity helps with dealing with stresses, mental illnesses, so [having access to] that space is amazing. […] It really shows that we can have a holistic approach to mental healthcare and not just what is within the walls of the hospital.” Extra Lifers support far more than just Dell Children’s, however. Hospitals across the United States and Canada are able to better provide for the mental health of kids coming through their doors. Here are just a few of the exciting things going on at a handful of the hospitals Extra Lifers fight for every year. Alberta A new mental health center for children and adolescents has been revealed. The building is set to be built in Calgary to provide walk-in services, community treatment, and a day hospital for the surrounding area. The center has been designed to provide a balance of architecture and natural space all specifically geared toward children. The construction will begin later this fall and the building will begin offering care to children starting in 2019. Colorado Suicide has become a huge problem facing the children of Colorado. In fact, it has become the leading cause of death for children aged 10-14. The state’s children are facing a crisis in mental health, but many who live there can’t get access to care. The Pediatric Mental Health Institute at Children’s Colorado wants to change that. The goal of the program is to add beds, provide education for parents and kids about mental health, reach out to kids in rural communities, and redesign parts of the hospital to better accommodate mental health needs. Ontario Toronto is home to The SickKids Centre for Brain & Mental Health, a facility and program that helps to identify and treat mental health disorders. Many of the difficulties brought on by mental illnesses, especially those in children, can be alleviated by early detection and beginning treatment as soon as possible. The center helps to reach out across the communities of Ontario, bringing specialized care into schools and hospitals across the province. Detecting and providing care for infant strokes, autism, epilepsy, and more are important parts of the center. It also conducts research to help both children and adults, paving the way for a healthier mental future. --- Attitudes regarding mental health, especially when it comes to children, are beginning to shift. People across the world are learning that a sizable number of people, both big and small, need mental health help. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so please join Extra Life in making a difference for the kids and families who seek help at your local children’s hospital. View full article
  9. I can honestly say that I’ve grown up alongside the video game industry. My best friend down the street had an Atari 2600, so we began there with Centipede, Frogger, and the gang, before my family got a Nintendo (the original Nintendo Entertainment System). Spending countless hours with the likes of Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Q*bert, and friends was the best thing I could do with my day. Then Contra appeared. The limitation of three lives made for a series of insane levels. This was our first exploration into the concept of “I don’t care how ridiculous this is, I will get past this!” Today, I could challenge any gamer from my generation what the code was and be met with that look of, "Really? You have to ask?" Say it with me: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. As the years passed, the procession of systems continued: Sega Genesis, Game Boy, PlayStation, Dreamcast, and Xbox, to name a few. I am proud to say I experienced many of these, playing a variety of games, from the good to the horrible and many in between. The extensive achievement lists of today’s games are a far cry from the simplicity that Pong or Dig-Dug offered. Sometimes a good card game or tabletop RPG can be as exciting as the latest release. While some will scoff at the notion of playing Dungeons & Dragons, I have enjoyed adventuring into the random imagination of several dungeon masters over the years. My first exploration was in high school with a group of buddies, where literally anything could happen. If our dungeon master thought we were getting even slightly too bold, he had no issues with bringing out an epic level creature to wipe our characters completely. Few things are more humbling than having to start from scratch, with additional limitations because of your own behavior. My second party was in college, and had an interesting array of characters, both in game and out. It is awesome to see the varying degrees of how different people will play their characters. The meekest person you know may command a ferocious barbarian in game; or the local quarterback may skulk around as a pocket-picking rogue. Almost a year ago now, I was thinking to myself, “I have played enough games of varying styles, I should find an outlet to share my opinion of games with others. I should be a game reviewer. Surely I have a valid opinion.” Let's be honest; who hasn't had that thought once or twice (a day) when they're in the middle of one campaign or another? Well, I found my outlet in a growing website by the name of BrutalGamer. They were kind enough to let me join, and now I can say that I write news and reviews for video games and comic books. Yay. We have seen everything; from a brotherly duo working in their basement for years to produce an exciting story all the way up to the AAA studio’s annual record-breakers. You never know what style of game will come across your desk next. Shortly after I joined BrutalGamer, one of my new teammates was asking who signed up for the Extra Life marathon in November. I had no clue this marathon was even a thing. So I did what we do best these days; I googled Extra Life. Lo and behold, I found that there are charitable organizations in the gaming community. Child’s Play, AbleGamers Charity, and Extra Life are only a few. Groups of gamers that will continue doing what they love to do while also lending their collective power to help those less fortunate. Extra Life in particular, has a push to host a 24-hour gaming marathon, and the money each participant raises goes to a Children's Miracle Network Hospital of their choosing. I figured something had to be amiss here. There is always a loophole, or some catch. I tell you, there is no loophole, nor any catch. Last year I raised $115 of my $150 goal, and helped support my niece and nephew's hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. I have met other Extra Lifers and gained some additional thoughts on raising money. Did you know you could have your own marathons, any time of year? Beyond that, some belong to Guilds and have regularly scheduled events! These angels raise money year-round! I had a friend dye his black hair a vibrant shade of orange for reaching his Extra Life fundraising goal. Now, to be honest, this can easily sound overwhelming: Guilds, marathons, and fundraisers. If you break it down, it sounds that much more exciting. Guild is a lofty name for a bunch of like-minded gamers in your area that want to get together and play games. How bad can that be? Marathons, well who would dislike the thought of playing their favorite game(s) for hours on end? As for the fundraisers, take a few moments to get on your favorite social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to let your friends and family that you want to raise money for children. That’s right, raising money for children in hospitals. In addition, you want to do it by playing games with friends. That doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? You can choose any game or games you want, and you can decide what date works best for you. What’s not to like about that? Last year was my wife and my first time participating in the 24-hour Extra Life marathon, and we are planning to do so again this coming November. In fact, my wife just asked me last week when the sign-ups began, so we would not miss out. We have learned that several of our friends are board game and card game fans, so we may have to see if we can recruit them to our team this year. If you are like me and you think this seems like a great way to raise money for a good cause while also having a good time, then you should check out Extra Life. They can be found in-person at almost any comic or gaming convention around the country. More than that though, you probably know more people that either participate or fund the group than you realize. When I go to Chicago’s Comic Convention next month, I look forward to stopping by the Extra Life booth and meeting new friends. So what are you waiting for? Check out Extra Life today! I'm Patrick Mackey and I play for Kosair Children's Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky. If you don’t have a team, you are welcome to join or donate to ours! --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today! View full article
  10. I can honestly say that I’ve grown up alongside the video game industry. My best friend down the street had an Atari 2600, so we began there with Centipede, Frogger, and the gang, before my family got a Nintendo (the original Nintendo Entertainment System). Spending countless hours with the likes of Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Q*bert, and friends was the best thing I could do with my day. Then Contra appeared. The limitation of three lives made for a series of insane levels. This was our first exploration into the concept of “I don’t care how ridiculous this is, I will get past this!” Today, I could challenge any gamer from my generation what the code was and be met with that look of, "Really? You have to ask?" Say it with me: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. As the years passed, the procession of systems continued: Sega Genesis, Game Boy, PlayStation, Dreamcast, and Xbox, to name a few. I am proud to say I experienced many of these, playing a variety of games, from the good to the horrible and many in between. The extensive achievement lists of today’s games are a far cry from the simplicity that Pong or Dig-Dug offered. Sometimes a good card game or tabletop RPG can be as exciting as the latest release. While some will scoff at the notion of playing Dungeons & Dragons, I have enjoyed adventuring into the random imagination of several dungeon masters over the years. My first exploration was in high school with a group of buddies, where literally anything could happen. If our dungeon master thought we were getting even slightly too bold, he had no issues with bringing out an epic level creature to wipe our characters completely. Few things are more humbling than having to start from scratch, with additional limitations because of your own behavior. My second party was in college, and had an interesting array of characters, both in game and out. It is awesome to see the varying degrees of how different people will play their characters. The meekest person you know may command a ferocious barbarian in game; or the local quarterback may skulk around as a pocket-picking rogue. Almost a year ago now, I was thinking to myself, “I have played enough games of varying styles, I should find an outlet to share my opinion of games with others. I should be a game reviewer. Surely I have a valid opinion.” Let's be honest; who hasn't had that thought once or twice (a day) when they're in the middle of one campaign or another? Well, I found my outlet in a growing website by the name of BrutalGamer. They were kind enough to let me join, and now I can say that I write news and reviews for video games and comic books. Yay. We have seen everything; from a brotherly duo working in their basement for years to produce an exciting story all the way up to the AAA studio’s annual record-breakers. You never know what style of game will come across your desk next. Shortly after I joined BrutalGamer, one of my new teammates was asking who signed up for the Extra Life marathon in November. I had no clue this marathon was even a thing. So I did what we do best these days; I googled Extra Life. Lo and behold, I found that there are charitable organizations in the gaming community. Child’s Play, AbleGamers Charity, and Extra Life are only a few. Groups of gamers that will continue doing what they love to do while also lending their collective power to help those less fortunate. Extra Life in particular, has a push to host a 24-hour gaming marathon, and the money each participant raises goes to a Children's Miracle Network Hospital of their choosing. I figured something had to be amiss here. There is always a loophole, or some catch. I tell you, there is no loophole, nor any catch. Last year I raised $115 of my $150 goal, and helped support my niece and nephew's hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. I have met other Extra Lifers and gained some additional thoughts on raising money. Did you know you could have your own marathons, any time of year? Beyond that, some belong to Guilds and have regularly scheduled events! These angels raise money year-round! I had a friend dye his black hair a vibrant shade of orange for reaching his Extra Life fundraising goal. Now, to be honest, this can easily sound overwhelming: Guilds, marathons, and fundraisers. If you break it down, it sounds that much more exciting. Guild is a lofty name for a bunch of like-minded gamers in your area that want to get together and play games. How bad can that be? Marathons, well who would dislike the thought of playing their favorite game(s) for hours on end? As for the fundraisers, take a few moments to get on your favorite social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) to let your friends and family that you want to raise money for children. That’s right, raising money for children in hospitals. In addition, you want to do it by playing games with friends. That doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? You can choose any game or games you want, and you can decide what date works best for you. What’s not to like about that? Last year was my wife and my first time participating in the 24-hour Extra Life marathon, and we are planning to do so again this coming November. In fact, my wife just asked me last week when the sign-ups began, so we would not miss out. We have learned that several of our friends are board game and card game fans, so we may have to see if we can recruit them to our team this year. If you are like me and you think this seems like a great way to raise money for a good cause while also having a good time, then you should check out Extra Life. They can be found in-person at almost any comic or gaming convention around the country. More than that though, you probably know more people that either participate or fund the group than you realize. When I go to Chicago’s Comic Convention next month, I look forward to stopping by the Extra Life booth and meeting new friends. So what are you waiting for? Check out Extra Life today! I'm Patrick Mackey and I play for Kosair Children's Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky. If you don’t have a team, you are welcome to join or donate to ours! --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today!
  11. Also at VT Comic Con was The 501st Legion (New England Garrison), who were also raising money for our local CMNHospital! We teamed up to raise awareness and also got a couple pictures.
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