Extra Life, a 24-hour gaming event for charity, raised over $5.5 million last week. The organization raises money to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a network that raises funds and awareness for 170 pediatric hospitals across Canada and the U.S. The organization was created in 1983 and has raised more than $5 billion, according to childrensmiraclesnetworkhospitals.org. Local Brock student Kat Powell, executive for Brock Musical Theatre club, took on the challenge.
“The event started fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network in 2008, and since then has raised more than $22 million for hospitals in that network,” said Powell. “That includes the one that I’m raising money for, SickKids in Toronto.”
Powell explained that popular sites like Reddit and GameInformer have been hosting gaming streams each year in order to fundraise and support the cause.
“This year I decided to get a little braver,” said Powell. “Streaming games and interacting with the Twitch community has very much become a way for me to work through my personal struggles with anxiety, and be more comfortable being social while still having the ‘safe’ feeling of my own home.”
In terms of gaming, Powell says that she began early on in her childhood. Although she grew up in a low-income household, her family managed to obtain a Sega Genesis console for the house.
“I used to spend hours playing games like Sonic or Street Fighter,” said Powell. “When I got older, I got more involved in the First-Person Shooters like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas like League of Legends, with my favourite games still being within the casual non-competitive realm such as the Borderlands series.”
Although Powell noted that one of her personal goals with Extra Life this year was to have some fun with friends, she made it clear that the event goes beyond simply gaming.
“My goal is to raise a little money for a foundation that provided a really positive environment and support for my family and I when I was younger,” explained Powell. “I stayed at SickKids for a time being to heal and they seriously go above and beyond to make sure I wasn’t only comfortable and had my mind off of what was a not-so-pleasant situation, but also made sure my mom had support while she was in the city that was hours away from our own hometown. I really wanted to give back to SickKids, even if I only set a smaller, less-intimidating goal for my first year.”
Midway through her stream, she elaborated that thus far there had been some technical difficulties with the stream. Despite the issues early-on, the community still joined her in playing Portal 2, Left 4 Dead 2, BattleBlock Theatre, Overwatch and many more.
“Even with the technical difficulties, the community that joined me for it, whether it was people I knew in real life or people who found me solely through Twitch — I had some from the US, some from Europe — seemed to have a pretty good time,” said Powell. “At the end of the day everyone was pumping up the Extra Life event and we all knew what we were focused on, while still having a ton of fun.”
Powell’s stream is continuing on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 8; catch it at twitch.tv/hyperionsfinest.