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Press Start for Extra Life Game Day 2020

Wait, playing video games for charity? Is that even a thing?

Not only is it a thing, but it’s an exciting fundraising effort Accusoft has embraced through our “Champion a Charity” program. Throughout the year, we encourage employees to sponsor a charity of their choosing and solicit donations from their coworkers. We then match a portion of those donations as part of our effort to give back to our community.

For the fourth straight year, Accusoft employees took part in Extra Life’s annual Game Day fundraiser to contribute funds to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.

What Is Extra Life?

Established in 2008, Extra Life is a charity program that works with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to raise funds for local children’s hospitals by playing games. Gamers sign up to contribute and receive donations as they take part in a gaming marathon with friends and coworkers. Although the Extra Life events can be held year round, each year the organization designates a worldwide Game Day to bring thousands of participants together for an exciting and healing experience.

Since its inception, Extra Life has raised over $70 million to support sick and injured children receiving care throughout Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The network consists of 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments across the US and Canada. These hospitals treat every child who comes through their doors, regardless of the family’s ability to pay, so they rely on charitable donations to continue to deliver the best care possible.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing that they help people not have to worry about how they’re going to pay to keep their children in the kind of treatment that they need,” said Accusoft marketing manager Ariana Tsouris. “No one should have to worry about their kid being sick or worried about not being able to take care of their kid because they can’t pay for their treatment.” 

Extra Life game events encompass all sorts of games, from the simplest card and board games to the very latest video game releases. Many participants stream their games on Twitch or hold large events at their workplace to raise awareness and encourage matching contributions.

The Accusoft Extra Life Team

Accusoft has participated in Extra Life Game Day since 2017, raising over $14,000 in the process. For 2020, we assembled a team of 13 eager gamers with the hope of pushing our total over $18,000. As part of Accusoft’s commitment to giving back to the community, we match team member donations and make additional donations on behalf of the top scorers in each game.

“It’s fun, but also it’s a really good way to give to the community and people who are in need,” software engineer Colby Butler said. “Sometimes it’s hard to do that, but this is kind of a no-brainer, easy way to have some fun and do some good in the community.”

Some team members were taking part in Extra Life for the first time. UI/UX strategist Rob Barry donated last year, but this time he decided to insert a coin to participate himself: “I have close friends who have gone through some difficult medical struggles with their children, so I try to budget throughout the year to give to causes like Extra Life. Becoming a father for the first time gave me a whole new perspective on how the program can help, though, so this year I decided to sign up to help the team exceed its goals.”

There were some familiar faces on this year’s team as well. “This was my sixth year participating in Extra Life’s Game Day,” said product manager Mark Hansen. “For me, it was a great opportunity to take something I love, video gaming, and put it together with a great charity.” But Extra Life is about more than just fun and games for Mark. “The cause is really important to me because my niece has unfortunately spent a great deal of time in All Children’s Hospital, more than any child should have to. This is a great opportunity to give back to those hospitals.”

Extra Life 2020: Remote Edition

In the past, we’ve held our Game Day event at the Accusoft offices, but that wasn’t possible this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Luckily, as a software development company, we had a few cheat codes handy to get around that particular obstacle.

Our resident Extra Life organizer, senior software engineer Michael Irigoyen, set out to solve the problem by creating the Accusoft Game Center, a virtual arcade that the entire team could access remotely.

“It was a big undertaking,” Michael said. “We not only had to get the games running and be able to support multiple players, but also integrate a community scoreboard so everybody could see who was in the lead for each game. The whole idea was to keep people interested and bring attention to the charity so they would want to donate.”

Fortunately, Michael had some assistance along the way. “Jamison Prianos helped to reverse engineer the arcade games and Kyla Kolb did a lot of bug hunting to make sure everything looked and ran great for the big day.”

Final Results

When it was all said and done, the Accusoft Extra Life team didn’t just set a new high score. We shattered our previous donation record! The team raised a total of $14,550, an astounding 70% increase from 2019’s total. Even more impressive, 62 Accusoft employees made donations, a 17% increase from last year. 

“Each year I’m blown away by the generosity of my teammates,” said Ariana, a three-year participant on the Accusoft Extra Life team. “Even with all the uncertainty in 2020, we raised an incredible amount of money for an equally incredible cause and it’s fantastic.”

Michael couldn’t be happier with the results: “We were absolutely floored by the support and generosity of our team. Just knowing that we can make that kind of impact is really empowering because these kids don’t deserve to be facing the things that they are.”

Looking Ahead

This year’s successful Game Day event has pushed Accusoft’s overall Extra Life donation total to nearly $30,000 since 2017. While the team is looking forward to next year’s fundraiser, there are still plenty of opportunities to continue raising funds before then.

“The Accusoft Game Center isn’t going anywhere,” Michael said. “Some of us may continue to fundraise throughout the rest of the year, so our total contributions might still go up!”

It’s a sentiment that truly embodies the spirit of Accusoft’s Champion a Charity program. Community outreach remains a key element of our mission to make the world in which we live and work a better place. 

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