Continuing a tradition of fundraising in support of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the CHC Computer Club hosted its first annual Extra Life 24-Hour Video Gaming Marathon on campus in October, raising more than $900 for the hospital.
Extra Life, founded by a small video game club in 2008 to raise money for Texas Children’s Hospital, has become a national way for gamers and donors alike to give back to the hospitals that have given so much to them and their loved ones. In just six years, Extra Life has raised $14 million in support of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which includes CHOP, the direct beneficiary of the Computer Club’s fundraising efforts.
Club president Chris Alford ’15, first heard about the Extra Life organization while at a convention in Oaks, Pa. Initially planning to do the marathon with just a few friends, Alford realized that Extra Life was something he wanted to bring back to the club as well.
“Extra Life is a charity organization whose whole premise is to play video games not only for fun but to help out children,” Alford said. “So I started to think, ‘How can we get CHC involved with this?’”
After getting agreement from his fellow board and club members, Alford’s first step was setting up the donation page so that those who wanted to support the gamers could.
“Extra Life raises money based on donations,” said Dustin Wasserman ’16 club vice president. “We set up a team page and shared the link so people could donate. Each individual member’s donations went to the team page and we added it up together to figure out what we raised.”
That amount was $930, nearly double what the club’s initial goal had been.
Having raised a substantial amount of money for a great cause, the club then prepared for the 24-hour marathon, which included a live stream of the entire event among the all-night gaming madness.
“It was hectic,” Alford said, referring to the pre-marathon preparations. “We had to make sure our technology was right and that our programs and games ran smoothly with the stream. We wanted people to be able to watch us playing the games on one screen and the actual game footage on another.”
In all, 26 members from both the Computer Club and the Video Game Club, who co-sponsored the event, showed up for the marathon, bringing with them a variety of gaming systems and games, which ranged from classics such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Marvel vs. Capcom to more interactive and team games including Mario Party and Dance Central for the Xbox Kinect.
“The intent was to give people variety to help them stay up the whole night,” Alford said.
Although he himself didn’t last the entire 24 hours, several team members did, with one bringing a sleeping bag, which according to Alford, was “definitely coming prepared.”
In addition to Extra Life, which Alford plans to bring back just in time for National Video Game Day, the Computer Club also will host its annual “Consoles for Kids” video game tournament this year in the spring semester.
Consoles for Kids, a brainchild of the club’s previous board members, is a competition where teams of four-to-five players each play multiple rounds of video games, with the winner having the most points at the end of the tournament. The number of teams is not limited and registration is open to anyone in the College. Just like Extra Life, the money raised (in this case the entry fee) goes directly to the children at CHOP.
“We had a raffle, charged a per-person entry fee and waived that fee for people who donated video games,” Wasserman said. “Overall, we raised about $200.”
Instead of just giving the cash to the hospital, the Computer Club decided to go the extra mile by actually picking out the games themselves for the kids.
“We wanted to make sure that the kids were getting what they were supposed to be getting,” Wasserman said. “Plus, it is fun shopping for video games and picking out what we think the kids will like.”
In addition to the service opportunities that include all of the great work the club is doing for CHOP, the Computer Club also holds general open forums to discuss technology at every meeting, screenings of tech-based movies with discussions and is planning to sponsor instructional workshops and interactive classes regarding the best uses practices for educational tools such as Smartboards and Power Point.
The club is not, as the misconception has sometimes been, just talking about computers.
“From its inception, the club provided multiple roles of service, education and entertainment,” said Professor Lisa Olivieri, SSJ, the club’s advisor, adding that the club tends to “take on the interests of its members, as the students are really the ones who make it what it is.”
“It is a place where all students can come together in a fun, social setting to share a common love of technologies,” said Alford. “Together, we’re finding a way to use technology in a positive way and to integrate it into our lives not only for our benefit, but for others as well.”
Marilee Gallagher ’14
Students interested in joining the club may contact Chris Alford at AlfordC@chc.edu.