Spirit of Giving

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Gaming our hearts out for the IWK.

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, IWK patient


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.

Playing games in the IWK hospital room.

Playing games in his hospital room.

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. 

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Playing games. Healing kids.

Nova Gamer for Left to RIght: Jon, Mark, Dan,  with Dave in the front centre.  Absent from photo: Austin

Nova Gamer from left to rIght: Jon, Mark, Dan, with Dave in the front centre. Absent from photo: Austin

Mark Devitt, co-founder of NovaGamer in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is fundraising for the IWK Foundation by participating in this year’s Children’s Miracle Network event. Extra Life.

My passion is gaming and I’m lucky enough that I am able to work in the industry too. At NovaGamer, my colleagues and I all share the same love for gaming and the gaming industry.  While we are committed to being active members of society, As gamers one of our challenges has been trying to find a way that we could make a significant contribute to our local community through our work. This was a task made very easy for us when we learned about Children’s Miracle Network’s Extra Life event.

Extra Life is a fantastic event that happens on November 2nd, 2013 to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network. Money raised from this event in the Maritimes goes towards the IWK Health Centre– our local children’s hospital. Essentially this event gives gamers, like me, a chance to get out into our community with family and friends to raise money for a fantastic cause. Believe it or not we do this by pledging to play games for 24 hours straight. We not only help support our local pediatric hospital but we are able to do so by participating in something we love. It’s a way to bring gamers together to make a positive change for others.

NovaGamer_500So why has NovaGamer chosen to fundraise for the IWK?  It is simple – because the support, services, and training provided by the IWK are crucial for our community!  Every parent to be, or sick child, that relies on the IWK needs to know that the very best resources are available when needed.  Extra Life is the perfect opportunity for those of us in the gaming industry to raise money and awareness for our local hospital. We want to make sure that the IWK continues to grow and offer services for families in need in the years to come.

Support Nova Gamer as they fundraise for the IWK Health Centre Foundation. To learn more about Extra-Life and other participants supporting the IWK Health Centre Foundation visit www.extra-life.org

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Feel Good Friday

It’s Friday, and time to share another IWK patient story that we received at the IWK Health Centre Foundation. Today’s letter is from Matthew Rogers, a Software Architect with HB Studios and is raising money for the IWK through Extra-life, a national Children’s Miracle Network fundraiser.

Jackson receiving treatment at the IWK Health Centre.

Last year my wife and I brought our 10 day old son, Jackson, into the Bridgewater hospital with a heart rate of 260bpm.  As soon as we got there Jackson was admitted and Dr. Riding immediately got on the phone with cardiology at the IWK.  It was determined that Jackson needed to be air lifted to the IWK because his body had started to shut down on him.  Dr. Riding and his team stabilized Jackson and prepared him for the helicopter ride into Halifax.

Once at the IWK, Dr. Chen and his team worked for days getting Jackson’s heart under control.  Jackson had two nurses assigned to him who did not leave his side.  Even better, my wife and I were able to stay at the IWK to be with our son.  Jackson is now a happy 11 month old.

You don’t realize how special children’s hospitals are until your life is touched by one.

A very happy Jackson.

Thank you Matt for taking the time to share your story with us. If you have an IWK story that you’d like to share, please email us at foundationmail@iwk.nshelath.ca.

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Second chances at Extra-Life!

George Pink from Little Bras D’Or, Nova Scotia, is a  registered participant in Extra-Life, a unique national fundraising initiative from Children’s Miracle Network. 

George Pink

Did you ever want to be that hero you played as in a video game or in that movie? Well like most that almost seems surreal, but after stumbling across Extra-Life’s fundraising event I can now feel like a hero!

It was a typical rainy day for me two weeks ago when I happened to be browsing my xbox and noticed this page. It was called Extra-Life. I checked it out to find out it was a fundraiser that you partake in a gaming marathon to raise money for various children’s hospitals over the globe. I immediately was interested as not only could I enjoy myself playing games, but I could spread some awareness to my fellow community to support this lovely cause and maybe even join in!

It brings me great satisfaction to become a part of something as great as this. I was immediately spreading the word to friends and family to join and I had a few friends who were thrilled to help out. I think that’s when I realized what was happening, it was the beginning of bringing together people to help a great cause and it truly feels amazing!

I chose the IWK Health Centre Foundation as the beneficiary of my fundraising because I’m a Nova Scotia resident with friends and family who have been admitted to this lovely hospital in the past.  It is the least I could do for such a reputable and amazing centre for treatment.

Take a look at the fundraiser and help join in, one level at a time!

Support George as he fundraises for the IWK Health Centre Foundation. To learn more about Extra-Life and other participants supporting the IWK Health Centre Foundation visit www.extra-life.org