Gamers Outreach was founded after a bunch of high school kids tried organizing a video game tournament, only to be shut down by a police officer who believed video games were “corrupting the mind’s of America’s youth.”
In March of 2007, more than three hundred individuals had registered to participate in a Halo 2 tournament organized by Saline High School student, Zach Wigal. Wigal, along with a loyal group of friends, had rented his high school’s cafeteria to facilitate the event, and spent months organizing one of the area’s first ever competitive video game tournaments.
Three days before the event was scheduled to take place, protest from a local public safety official forced the tournament’s cancellation. According to a voicemail left for the school district’s superintendent, it was the opinion of the public safety officer that video games were “corrupting the minds of America’s youth,” and the teenager’s gaming tournament was a “hazard to the public safety of the community.”
Still determined to host a video game tournament, the group of high school students began organizing a new event to illustrate the positive impact gamers make when they come together to play video games. In 2008, Gamers for Giving was born, a competitive gaming tournament and LAN party that provided gamers with an opportunity to participate in gaming activities, while simultaneously raising money for charity.
In the process of planning the new tournament, Gamers Outreach Foundation (Gamers Outreach for short) was established. While the original purpose of the organization was to facilitate Gamers for Giving, the newly founded 501(c)(3) nonprofit began taking on a life of its own.
As interest in Gamers for Giving grew, so did the scope of Gamers Outreach’s mission. In 2009, Gamers Outreach began working with C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital of Ann Arbor, Michigan to provide video games to hospitalized children. Witnessing the frequent need for bedside activities, as well as the impact games were making in the medical environment, it was quickly realized Gamers Outreach could provide something more specific: accessible recreation for kids during long-term stays.
After spending six months volunteering within the hospital, the first “GO Kart” was created – a portable, medical-grade video game kiosk that provided nurses and child life specialists with a way to transport games and entertainment to children who were unable to leave their rooms within the hospital.
Gamers Outreach has since grown into an organization dedicated to providing therapeutic recreation to children and families in hospitals through interactive entertainment. The organization’s programs serve children in hospitals around the country, and through the organization, gamers or interested donors can directly help young people in hospitals of their choosing.
From a bunch of high school kids with an interest in hosting video game tournaments, to helping thousands of children per year in hospitals, Gamers Outreach has come a long way. The organization’s vision has evolved to ensure children in hospitals everywhere have access to relief and activities during treatment.
Interested in lending a hand? You can help us make a difference in the lives of kids who need a little help in the hospital! Swing over to our Donate page to learn how you can get involved!