Extra Life 2014 is scheduled to take place on Saturday October 25th, which is approaching very quickly indeed! For those of you who may not know, Extra Life is a charity event that is held every year by the gaming community to benefit the many hospitals in the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). During Extra Life, gamers from all around the world spend 24 consecutive hours playing games (video games, board games, card games, phone games, ect.) in order to raise money and awareness for sick children being taken care of by the CMN hospital in their area. Over the previous six years, Extra Life has raised millions of dollars for the CMN, the success of the charity grows by leaps and bounds every year.
This year is my fifth year participating in the event. I first learned of Extra Life listening to the podcasts produced by one of the greatest communities of it’s time, SarcasticGamer.com. I unfortunately found out about the charity too late to participate that first year, but I made sure to make up for it every year since. Over the course of the last 5 years, I’ve personally raised more than $2,600 for the charity.
Being a gamer, one really doesn’t need much motivation to participate in a charity like this. Having a legitimate excuse to give our families, and in my case, even my employer to be able to dedicate 24 uninterrupted hours doing one of the things that I enjoy most. Not only that, but to be able to do it in the name of a very worthy cause, is a wonderful thing! As if that alone wasn’t good enough reason to participate in Extra Life, I have two even more beautiful excuses to dedicate my time and efforts to support the fine folks at the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital, my local CMN hospital.
Eleven years ago last month, my first child was born unto this world. A very apparently healthy 9 pound baby girl, ten fingers, ten toes with a healthy set of lungs for crying. I spent the evening doing all of the normal new daddy activities, walking around the hospital showing off my new addition, holding her closely and gazing at her lovingly, taking pictures and making phone calls to all the family that couldn’t be there. I was just ever so happy to be a new daddy. Everything seemed wonderful for our newly growing family.
Things took a dramatic change the next morning when we got word from the nurses that our daughter would have to be airlifted to the UNM Children’s Hospital in Albuquerque, about 200 miles away from our home town of Roswell, New Mexico. Evidently she was having an issue with her blood. Her mother’s body recognized the platelets in my daughter’s body as not being compatible with her own. This incompatibility caused her mother’s blood cells to create antibodies that began to attack and kill the platelets in my daughter’s body. This is of course a bad thing because if my daughter were to receive a cut or something, her body would be unable to form a blood clot to stop the bleeding. So they put her on a helicopter and off she went, not even a day old.
She spent a week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital, surrounded by many other sick infants. Most of the infants were there because they were premature and tiny in stark contrast to my daughter’s rather plump 9 pound self. She just didn’t seem like she should be there. Her older brother, my stepson, had the same issue at birth and spent 5 weeks in the NICU and had to receive multiple transfusions to boost his platelet count before his body was able to maintain a safe level of platelets on its own. Even though we were prepared for this same “worst case scenario,” thanks to the wonderful staff of the UNM Children’s Hospital, and of course a very strong and determined baby girl, my “Pretty Girl” Ashlee was able to come home without a single transfusion.
The entire scenario was played out again four years later when my youngest daughter Wendy joined us. Despite our hopes that we wouldn’t have to deal with this again, the nurses once again came in the next morning and told us that she would have to be airlifted to UNM Children’s Hospital. This time was no less stressful and worrying. She too spent another week under the close care of the staff in UNM’s NICU, and she was able to come home with us without a single blood transfusion necessary. I don’t know if it was because of the medical advances and professionalism of the staff of this CMN hospital, but this time seemed much smoother and easier. I’d like to think that it was also strong genes that helped, but that’s just for my ego.
If anybody wants to know why I so adamantly support Extra Life every year and am so excited to start raising money for my local CMN hospital, it’s because I owe them so much more than I can raise for them in 20 years of fundraising. Even though we didn’t have to deal with something as horrible and life changing as cancer, which they undoubtedly help countless families with each year. I still owe them my life for ensuring the lives of two of the most precious people to me.
As of the time that this article was written, I have raised $153 mostly by donating my meager tips from my job making coffee. Last year was an amazing year for me. I was able to raise more than $1,300 for UNM Children’s Hospital. I knew that this year would be a challenge, my wife and I have moved to a new city to continue our educational careers. This means that we are miles away from our base of support and source of much of the money I’ve been able to raise over the last five years. The new surroundings combined with a much more demanding school and work schedule have made if very hard for me to raise the money that I wanted to. I just don’t think that my $5 dollars a week tips alone is going to get me to this goal. Here’s where I ask you to go to the following address:
and donate anything that you can afford, no matter how small to help me reach my goal. Every single dime goes straight to the UNM Children’s Hospital to help them heal sick children. Any donations you make are 100% tax deductible. You never know when you too might need their help, and take it from a father with experience, it’s good to know that there are people out there willing to help you when you need it most. Thank you in advance.
Troy “NMReign” Starrett