We recently spoke with Jeromy Adams, Extra Life founder and programs director at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals about Extra Life. For those who are not aware of this great program, it allows gamers all over the world to raise money for sick children by playing video games.
How did the idea of raising money by playing video games come about?
I met a young lady named Tori while working for a radio station in Houston. Through the Radiothon program there for Texas Children’s Hospital, Tori and her parents and I became friends. Throughout 3 battles with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Tori fought like a champ. During one of those long long hospitals stays, I asked my readers and fellow gaming community leaders at Sarcastic Gamer to donate a couple of games to Tori to give her something to do while in the hospital. I was totally unprepared for the response, which included systems, games, and money from all over the world. It was then that I first realized how generous gamers are, and it was reinforced to me that gamers aren’t just gamers. They are moms and dads, aunts and uncles, even grandparents.
After Tori passed away, I wanted to do something to honor her and keep her memory alive. Extra Life was born out of a desire to create an event that gamers, like cyclists, runners etc… could do something they enjoyed doing while raising money for a fantastic cause.
What kind of participation do you expect this year?
It is our sincere hope that 50,000 people will step forward this year to play games and heal kids in their local communities That would be mind-blowing! Last year, just over 14k participated, so you can see that would be quite a leap.
How does this fundraiser compare with your other fundraisers?
Like all Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals fundraisers, funds raised at Extra Life all go to the local CMN Hospitals. But many of the similarities stop there. Extra Life is a far more grassroots effort than most programs. It was actually born and got its start outside of CMNH, and only became an official program just over a year and a half ago. This means a huge sense of ownership by the people that participate in it. Extra Life gamers appreciate that you’re not just signing up and sending in a check—they take a personal interest in its success, make suggestions to improve it, many of which get implemented fairly quickly, and look after its growth. Gamers encourage each other, team leaders push their teams, and companies that normally compete with one another put away their differences to do the right thing for local kids. It’s a really unique and powerful model that will be difficult, if not impossible to ever completely duplicate.
What is this year’s goal?
We are very superstitious around here about announcing goals. We want to do better than last year, for sure. So that will always sort of be the goal. But we do have a quantifiable goal for this year outside of dollars raised. We want to see 50,000 people step up to play. You can do the math if you’d like, but the average participant raises just north of 100 dollars.
Statistically, what state has the highest number of participants?
Surprisingly, I believe it is North Dakota. Somehow we got some serious traction up there and about 50 people signed up, which I believe is half of the population of that state.
Do you have a wide range of gamers or are they mainly from a certain
age demographic? Are the participants mostly male? Have you seen an increase in female
On average our players are in their early thirties. Only a slightly larger number of men than women, and the gap seems to close every year. The ladies may even take over one day, which I can personally say I’d be fine with! But we have youth groups from churches that participate, and we’ve got groups of men in their 50′s settling in for day-long Madden binges as well It really runs the gamut.
What do you have planned for the future growth of the company?
Well Extra Life itself is a program and part of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals The organization raises funds for 170 children’s hospitals across North America and it’s on a course to increase the funds that we raise from over a quarter billion dollars last year, to a billion dollars a year within a few short years. To do that we need groups of people, like those that have embraced Extra Life, to continue to be advocates for local sick and injured kids. Whether it’s through a pastime like playing video games, or by telling the stories of how those hospitals have impacted them and their family, it is going to be a group effort to get there. We’ve recently hired the right guy to lead us there in our CEO John Lauck, whose vision for saving the lives of kids and embrace of programs like Extra Life, are just what we and our hospitals need to get there.
How have you gone about letting people know about Extra Life?
We are getting the word out with fine folks like yourself, and we’re also present at a lot of conventions like E3, PAX, Comicons, Gen Con etc. Aside form that, partners like G4TV, Trion Worlds, Playstation Network, Xbox Live, and more help spread the word to their audiences, which has been invaluable. But more than 60% of our participants find out about Extra Life from a friend. From a post on Facebook, or a conversation around the water cooler. We’ll continue to look for new groups and partners to help spread the word about Extra Life, and we hope our players will continue to get their social circles involved. From a fundraising perspective, we prefer people to sign up to play, as ultimately they will have a greater impact on local kids that way.
You can learn more about this great cause and support our team at the page below.