When people ask me why I Extra Life, I struggle to find the words to explain it. My first involvement with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital began in 2010 when I was sent by iHeartMedia, my employer for the last 19 years, to help execute the Children’s Miracle Network Radiothon. While I had been involved in Radiothons before, this was the first time we did one from a hospital. It was an experience that opened my eyes in ways I never expected.
For three days, children and families came to the hospital playroom where we had our radio station setup. I heard so many accounts of how the hospital has touched lives and made a difference in our community. By the third day, I was feeling both awed and humbled. I couldn’t stop thinking about the thousands of kids we were helping.
I had a whole new perspective about the children’s hospital and the people who work there. I have never met a more selfless, loving, and passionate group of people in my life. They change the lives of families facing odds most of us couldn’t imagine. They do amazing things as if they were routine. When families are on the verge of losing hope, they make miracles happen. I was amazed then, and I’ve loved being a part of Radiothon ever since.
During iHeartMedia’s planning session for the 2014 Radiothon, I first heard about Extra Life, a 24 hour gaming event to benefit kids at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, locally Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. I was really pumped up! In my spare time, one of my favorite things to do is to game. When I found out that I could play games and help kids too, I jumped into my fund-raising efforts with both feet (or should I say hands).
That year, I ended up being the top Extra Life fundraiser in our area and in early 2015, the hospital asked me to represent them at Extra Life United, the national CMN Hospitals gaming event in Disney World. I was ecstatic! I went, and spent several days with gamers from all over the U.S. and Canada raising even more money for our local CMN Hospitals. I had the time of my life and was floating on air long after the trip was over.
In the last year, I have had some exciting things happen in my personal life. In January, I popped the question to the love of my life, Katie. She made me one happy gamer when she said yes. Our wedding plans soon began in earnest, and we selected February 20th, 2016 for the big day. While the wedding itself will be closer to home, we picked Disney World for our honeymoon because that is where we went on our first date, and is also where I proposed. It’s our special place, and we love it. I must admit, I wasn’t really thinking about Extra Life when we put our plans in place.
For the wedding, Katie had a fantastic idea. We’ve both already been so fortunate in life. We don’t need more “things”. She suggested that we ask our wedding guests to consider making a donation to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital through Extra Life in lieu of wedding gifts. It’s just another example of why I love her so much. I agreed immediately. For both of us, it just felt like the right thing to do.
The next thing you know, the date for Extra Life United 2016 was released, and you guessed it, it was right in the middle of our honeymoon trip. The hospital asked me if I would represent them again this year. I thought for sure I would have to skip it this year. Could I really ask Katie if she wanted to spend a portion of our honeymoon playing video games? After a couple of days, I finally broached the subject. I believe the conversation lasted all of 30 seconds.
Her response was, “Can I play too?”
So this February, right after Katie and I get married, we will spend a few days of our honeymoon helping kids in our children’s hospital by playing video games and raising money. It might sound like a crazy or unique way to spend a honeymoon, but it’s our way of celebrating so many of the good things in our life. When people ask me why I Extra Life, I guess it’s because I love to join with people helping people, and making a difference in the world. I love gaming, and the idea of sharing all of this with my wife to be only makes it that much sweeter.