Extra Life United: Change Kids’ Health, Change the Future
It’s no secret that ModSquad loves participating in the Extra Life gaming marathon, raising funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In fact, we have a long history with Extra Life. Since 2014, we’ve joined thousands of gamers from around the world who live stream their game play as they raise donations from viewers, friends, family, and other participants. But it’s not just about gaming — it’s also about the relationship we have with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Our many years of support ultimately grew into ModSquad providing content, engagement, and social media moderation services for the organization.
Last month, ModSquad joined gamers in Orlando, Florida at Extra Life United, to start raising funds early. ELU is part of Children’s Miracle Network Hospital week, and we were able to hear directly from the hospitals that our fundraising efforts support.
ModSquad Founder and CEO Amy Pritchard headed to Orlando for her regular visit to the annual meet. “Like Extra Life game day in November, Extra Life United is an essential event for ModSquad. This is a very important cause for us, as it so closely aligns with our mission and passions. It combines a love of gaming with a focus on kids’ digital safety, which we work toward as we moderate CMN Hospitals’ live online events to keep the streams safe,” she said. “It’s amazing to see how much this event has grown, and we were so appreciative of the warm reception ModSquad received as a partner for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Extra Life.”
Volunteering with Tori’s Angels
Extra Life was founded as a way to honor young Victoria “Tori” Enmon, who lost her battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2008. In Tori’s memory, volunteers come together from all over to ensure the event goes off without a hitch. One of “Tori’s Angels,” as the volunteers are known, is Ryan Pritchard. We spoke with Ryan to get an inside view of the people who help make it happen.
“Every Tori’s Angel I’ve met is probably an actual angel in disguise!” says Ryan. “They keep the event from speeding off the rails and I’m proud to have been considered one of them. I’ve been a donation-raising participant at Extra Life for about five years now. I’ve met fascinating participants who have inspired me to do more for my community. I’ve had the pleasure of racing against a passionate 3-D design major and even Marriott’s Senior Director of Marketing (Golf Division). An honorable bout of Mario Kart can be a great icebreaker!”
Ryan continues, “Extra Life brings people from all over together, and I’ll never forget the stories and kindness of all the friends I’ve made. I’m so excited to contribute to the cause, and I’m going to start more conversations about this community. By next year I hope to enlist a small army’s worth of people into the vibrant world of Extra Life.”
ModSquad Internal Communications & Community Manager Ashley M. found the event to be moving right from the first general session: “This year’s theme for CMN Hospitals and Extra Life is ‘Change Kids’ Health, Change the Future.’ It’s a great tagline, but what hit me the most was hearing from CMN Hospitals CEO Teri Nestel. In her speech, she mentioned that children are only 20 percent of our population, but they are 100 percent of the future. And that simply hit hard. It really drives home how important CMN Hospitals are to our communities.”
“The most amazing fact I heard during that session was that only four percent of funding from the National Cancer Institute is earmarked for pediatric research,” Ashley notes. “You don’t realize how important our fundraising is until you see just how little funds these hospitals get from sources outside of donors.”
ModSquad Digital Strategist & Community Manager Brian F.’s favorite breakout was hearing about the needs of children’s hospitals. “I won’t lie, that session was intense,” he recalls. “You don’t think about all the special equipment needed for children. From accessibility to properly sized material to funds for research and programs, the needs are immense, vast, and important.”
Fun, Games, and Awards
Of course, there was fun to be had along with the breakout sessions. Extra Life United kicked off with tabletop games and then opened up the console game tournament. Ashley finished top 16 in the Skip-Bo tournament. “I was super surprised, as I’m not a true gamer. But I’m definitely happy to be bringing in some funds for UC Davis, the hospital I was playing for!”
Amidst all of the game play, perhaps the week’s biggest accomplishment was achieved by a program director at UC Davis who is near and dear to our hearts. A special congratulations goes to Assistant Director of Development Michelle Thompson for winning the Extra Life Victoria Enmon Award. This award honors a CMN Hospital director who goes above and beyond to take Extra Life to the next level in their community.
“Attending these sessions really drove home why we do what we do with Extra Life,” says Brian. “It definitely gave us the motivation to kick it up another notch for ModSquad’s next Extra Life game day!”
ModSquad Extra Life 2022
Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has generated more than $100 million USD for sick and injured kids. Each year, ModSquad has raised more funds than the previous year for Extra Life. Last year, we brought in more than $84,000, ranking 7th out of over 4,000 fundraising teams at the end of game day; this year, we’re hoping to raise at least $100,000 for Extra Life.
If you’d like to participate but aren’t a gamer, don’t worry. It’s easy to fundraise, says Ashley. “Have a bake sale, ask for donations from friends and family, create and sell jewelry, maybe host a barbecue. Just do what you’re passionate about. Extra Life at ModSquad has something for everyone. Personally, I’m in talks with my community to hold a benefit barrel race for the local CMN Hospitals affiliate. I’m a horse girl, so any way I can incorporate horses into Extra Life, I’m all for it!”
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