*Written by Cade Bengert, Social Media and Web Development for Extra Life Edmonton.
For decades, video games have served as a distraction for people; a way to escape hardship, stress, or their regular life and travel to new, fantastical lands from the comfort of your own home. This is especially true for kids facing scary situations that they may not fully understand.
There is a group of gamers in Edmonton, Alberta looking to push expand that even further, and use video games to help sick kids at their local children’s hospital.
Extra Life Edmontonis a collection of Alberta gamers dedicated to supporting sick kids and their families. This group fundraises throughout the year, culminating in their massive Game Day event: a 24 hour gaming marathon complete with tournaments, panels, prizes, and guests from the children’s hospital. This event has been in-person in the past, but the team has pivoted to an incredible online production in recent years, which has allowed them to reach even more participants and special guests.
Over the past 10 years, Extra Life Edmonton has grown from a handful of members to over 800 participants, and raised over $2 million for the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation!
The Stollery Children’s Hospital treats over 315,000 patients a year from all over Western Canada, and hosts the only pediatric emergency in northern Alberta. It is the referral centre for all complex pediatric heart surgeries and transplants, a major organ transplantation centre, home to Canada’s largest regional program for neonatal intensive and intermediate care, and provides some of the most advanced treatments for child-health issues in the country. Through donor support, the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation continues to give the sickest kids the best chance to live a long and healthy life.
"Along with fundraising, the Extra Life Edmonton organizing guild's mission is to create a safe space for gamers of all ages to come together to do what they love, playing games to heal kids. The guild spends their free time creating ways to engage and support the fundraising team at large and to recruit more numbers to support the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation,” says Extra Life Edmonton President, Lisa Hawthorne, “The commitment and support from the Edmonton community and the guild members are the reason why I am so incredibly proud to be a gamer and part of this initiative for more than 10 years."
While numbers are still being tallied for 2021, Extra Life Edmonton is trending towards a record breaking year with 2021 during a time when hospitals like the Stollery need support more than ever.
If you would like to learn more, join the team, or donate, please visit Extra Life Edmonton: