Extra Life is a 24hr gaming marathon where funds raised help sick and injured children at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. As a proud Children’s Miracle Network member hospital, the IWK Health Centre receives all funds raised in the Maritimes. Amanda Matthews shares how Extra Life, and video games, have made a difference in her family’s life.
Last year, when we first found out about the Extra Life fundraiser, we were ecstatic. Not only is it a fun way to raise funds and awareness, but it was also something that was very close to our hearts. We’re a family of Gamers, it’s what we love to do together. Whether it’s Monopoly, Candy Land, World of Warcraft, or Peggle, we love to game together as a family. It’s also how Blake regained the use of his hands and legs so quickly.
Blake had a brain tumor in his posterior fossa, the part of the brain that controls movement, balance and coordination. We were warned that the pressure from the tumor, as well as the surgery to remove it might cause him to have balance and fine motor issues, as well as a number of other issues. Blake was not lucky. After he recovered from surgery, he could not walk very well and spent most of his time in a wheelchair. He was right handed before surgery and after, he could not use his right hand very well. He’s now left handed.
He spent a lot of time in Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy to help regain the use of his legs and hands, as well as his balance. However, being weak from radiation therapy and surgery, the level of therapy needed to regain those skills couldn’t be reached. His therapists did however, realize that he liked to play games, and so, they began using video games as part of his therapy – including Wii bowling and soccer, Nintendo DS and other handheld games. Blake struggled. Boy did he struggle. It was sometimes hard to sit through those therapy sessions and watch him get so angry with himself for not being able to do something that he knew how to do a month before. He tried so hard.
His determination, and the kindness and patience of his therapists paid off. Through the use of handheld games like the Nintendo DS, he regained much of his fine motor skills. You can’t defeat Bowser with one hand. You can’t beat Naiomi at soccer sitting down. Through games and a tough sense of competition, today, he is able to walk without anyone noticing that he has balance issues. He can write his name finally. He can out play almost anyone at Mario Kart.
Games were his safe place. During treatments and hospital stays and all the bad times, he had his games to cheer him up and keep him happy. He had his nurses play with him, Child Life workers play with him, and he had Mom and Dad (who he ALWAYS beat) to play with him, be with him, comfort him.
Extra Life is important. Not just because we love video games, not just because they helped our boy through the toughest fight of his life, but because it helps save lives. In 2013, Extra Life players raised 4 million dollars for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Money that pays for life saving equipment, research and maybe some video games 😉
Join us on Saturday, October 25th. We’ll be gaming our hearts out for the IWK Health Center in Halifax. That’s our miracle hospital.
Sign-up today at www.extra-life.org to take part in this 24hr gaming marathon in support of the IWK.