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Join us at our 12th annual Gamers for Giving fundraiser, March 28th & 29th! Visit www.GamersforGiving.org for info!

Update: Gamers for Giving 2020

Last week, in consideration of recent events, we announced Gamers for Giving 2020 would shift to an online-only format. The full post and details regarding refunds for attendees can be read here.

While this year’s event won’t include our regular LAN party, there’s no stopping our ability to unite as a community and stream!

This year’s event will take place over the course of March 28th & 29th as an online streaming marathon. We’ll be hosting our own broadcast from a studio in Los Angeles, sharing updates on our programs, chatting with special guests, and checking-in with streamers around the internet.

The amazing news is that you can help! We’re hoping to raise more than $700,000 in support of providing entertainment to hospitalized children. Every donation counts towards reaching the goal!

Here’s how to get involved:

  • Step 1Create an account on the fundraising platform, Tiltify.
  • Step 2: Once your account is created, make your own fundraiser in support of the Gamers for Giving 2020 campaign! Be sure to customize the settings for your fundraiser. You can embed a stream player, and even set incentives to encourage donations.
  • Step 3: If you’re hosting a stream broadcast on a website like Twitch, Mixer, or YouTube, use our asset kit to decorate your broadcast! You’ll find overlays, photos, and donation graphics in the folder provided.
  • Step 4: Publish & promote your fundraiser! Share the word on social media, and be sure to link your donors / viewers to your unique fundraising page. All donations will contribute towards the $700,000 total, and you’ll be able to see how much you raise along the way!

Not a streamer? You can still create a campaign, encourage friends to donate, or make a contribution yourself on our website! You can also use platforms like Facebook to rally friends and raise money for Gamers Outreach programs. Or consider selling things on eBay to help the cause! We hope you’ll join us on March 28th & 29th during this year’s online marathon. We’ll see you on the internet!

Love Your Melon

Love Your Melon partners with Gamers Outreach

We’re thrilled to share Gamers Outreach is teaming up with Love Your Melon to build 28 GO Karts for pediatric cancer treatment centers across the country!

GO Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts) are portable video game kiosks built for hospitals. Each unit is equipped with a gaming console, monitor, controllers, and assortment of games. Thanks to GO Karts, healthcare workers can easily manage and provide games to kids who have limited activity options. Currently deployed across more than 200 facilities, we estimate our collective fleet can support between 1.5 – 2 million play sessions for children annually.

As our supporters know, being in a hospital can be a scary and isolating experience for kids and their families. Our purpose is to help foster a sense of joy and normalcy during treatment. Through the incredible medium of video games, kids can have access to activities and their friends while receiving care.

Love Your Melon was founded in an entrepreneurship class at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota by two friends, Zachary and Brian, who wanted to start a business with a meaningful and positive social impact. On a mission to improve the lives of children battling cancer since October 22nd, 2012, Love Your Melon began with the simple idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. After achieving the original goal of giving 45,000 hats — one for every child battling cancer in America — Love Your Melon set a new goal of giving one million dollars to pediatric cancer research and providing immediate support to children and their families. To date, the company has given over $7.1 million dollars to the fight against pediatric cancer and over 190,000 hats to children battling cancer.

The team from Love Your Melon is supporting Gamers Outreach with a $100,000 contribution, which will fund the delivery of the 28 GO Karts, and enable us to provide ongoing service so kids can have fun playing the games they love.

In appreciation of their gift, we’ll be recognizing Love Your Melon as a sponsor of Gamers for Giving 2020 on March 28th & 29th.

Be on the lookout in the coming months on our social channels as we roll out these GO Karts! We’re proud to be a part of their effort to help kids heal.

Thanks, Love Your Melon!

ASUS & Gamers Outreach

Epic news to share, Gamers Outreach community! We’re excited to announce we’re teaming with ASUS as our official monitor sponsor in 2020! To kick off the partnership, ASUS has made a significant hardware contribution, supporting displays for 250 GO Karts!

GO Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts) are portable video game kiosks built for hospitals. Each unit is equipped with a gaming console, monitor, controllers, and assortment of games. Thanks to GO Karts, healthcare workers can easily manage and provide games to kids who have limited activity options. Currently deployed across more than 200 facilities, we estimate our collective fleet can support between 1.5 – 2 million play sessions for children annually.

“Gamers Outreach and the difference they make for children in hospitals is a truly incredible cause that we’re proud to be a part of,” said Gary Key, Sr. Director of Marketing at ASUS North America. “It is an honor to help serve hospitals, families and children during long-term stays by supporting the delivery of more GO Karts and the positive experiences they provide.”

“This support from ASUS is a massive win for kids and families,” said Zach Wigal, Founder of Gamers Outreach. “We strive to provide gamers in hospitals with the same quality gaming experiences they know at home. Having access to equipment from ASUS will help us deliver premium content, restoring a sense of normalcy and fun in the lives of patients undergoing treatment.”

In celebration of this contribution, we’re excited to welcome ASUS as a returning sponsor of our annual Gamers for Giving fundraiser, taking place on March 28th & 29th at the EMU Convocation Center. During the course of the weekend, we’re aiming to raise $700,000 to provide entertainment devices to hospitalized children and their families.

Interested in getting involved yourself? Gamers for Giving 2020 fundraising has already begun, and you can set up your own campaign in support of the cause through the Tiltify platform.

Whether you’ll be attending Gamers for Giving in March, fundraising online, or volunteering throughout the year, we hope you’ll help others level up, and join us in thanking ASUS for their support!

+1 Advisory Board

Let’s kick 2020 into high gear, Gamers Outreach supporters! Today we’re thrilled to welcome video game industry veteran Miguel Gil to our Advisory Board!

This (growing) advisory board was created to support directors and staff within Gamers Outreach. Each member helps lead development efforts which expand the impact of Gamers Outreach programs. Their involvement provides our team with valuable third-party perspective on internal discussions, and their passion for our cause helps rally community action.

As a reminder, our intent is to cultivate this advisory board to be comprised of professionals from a wide range of disciplines (both within and outside the gaming industry). A few key qualities guide our consideration of candidates. Board members must be/have…

  • Senior-level professionals with experience working in gaming, medical, or corporate environments.
  • Record of securing grants, sponsorship, or external resources for programs, corporate initiatives, or services.
  • Demonstrated excellence in forming relationships that advanced a particular program, company, or cause.
  • Exemplary leadership skills. Dev Team members must be able to foster a team environment and work collaboratively when necessary.
  • Dev Team members are effective communicators, able to identify areas for improvement, and help advance the organization’s mission.

Miguel is the founder of the United States Esports Association (USEA), a non-profit organization with its core mission to foster the growth of recreational and amateur esports in the US. Prior to leading the USEA, Miguel spent 13+ years at Microsoft XBOX where he was mostly involved with the XBOX Hardware team in a variety of roles with focus on portfolio management, strategic planning, business development and financial analysis. He has a passion for the consumer electronics industry and has been serving as a board member of the CTA Accessories Division since 2012. Miguel earned a BS in Engineering from University Fermin Toro and later received his MBA from Stetson University. His personal passions include family, tennis, golf, F1 racing and trying to become better at racing games.

On joining Gamers Outreach, Miguel had this to say…

“I’m extremely proud and honored of having the opportunity to be part of the Gamers Outreach family. I’ve always had an immense respect and admiration for Zach and the Gamers Outreach mission. I had the opportunity to meet Zach at a PAX West conference few years ago (Thanks Astro Gaming for the introduction ) and as soon as I learned about their mission I was hooked. As a previous member of Team XBOX Hardware team, I always took it upon myself to help donate as much XBOX hardware as we could to Gamers Outreach knowing that it was going to reach and bring happiness to so many kids and families during one of the most difficult times in their lives. As an active member of the Gamers Outreach Advisory Board, I want to do my best to help the team working towards achieving the organizations mission.

As a father, I truly believe that no child deserves to spend long periods of time at a hospital, it simply breaks my heart. Knowing that my contributions to the Gamers Outreach team will help bring a spark of happiness to those kids and families really lights my heart. I want to be an active part of the mission Gamers Outreach team and want to continue to grow the impact of such as great organization. Go Team Gamers Outreach!”

So, claps in chat – please join us in welcoming Miguel! We’re excited to continue helping others level up with him on-board!

Gamers for Giving 2020: Registration Opens Jan 17!

Exciting news, Gamers Outreach community! Gamers for Giving 2020 tickets will be available for purchase on Friday, January 17th @ 12 PM eastern!

For those not familiar: Gamers for Giving is a LAN party + streaming marathon that generates resources for Gamers Outreach programs. Through ticket sales, sponsorship, and online donations, last year’s event raised over $637,000 in support of providing entertainment devices to children’s hospitals!

Scheduled for March 28th & 29th, this year’s event will once again take place at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center. We’ve built a new ticketing system to better handle the demand we saw during last year’s registration process.

You’ll be able to visit our registration page when it’s live here.

Additionally, we’ve modified the Gamers for Giving floorplan, allowing us to create space for more seating. Our streamers will now occupy the area of the venue which previously held the broadcast stage.

Our ticket options have simplified a bit this year with Halo being on PC. Here’s a breakdown of the passes that will be available for purchase:

  • General BYOC LAN Seat:
    $45 EARLY BIRD Online (register on or before January 31)
    $55 Online (for registration after January 31)

    Purchase this ticket if you would like to participate in the BYOC LAN. This ticket also grants you entry into all of our headline PC tournaments, including this year’s Halo activities. As an attendee, you’ll bring your PC / console and have a dedicated space to play video games for the entire weekend! Internet access, 2 power outlets, table space, and a simple chair are provided with each ticket. We’ll also be supporting a variety of casual activities for leisure-play. Check out the LAN party section of the website to see a list of supplies you’ll want to bring.

  • VIP LAN Seat & Sky Loft:
    $125 EARLY BIRD Online (register on or before January 31)
    $175 Online (for registration after January 31)

    Purchase this ticket if you would like to participate in the BYOC LAN as a VIP. This ticket includes a number of extra benefits such as…

    • Access to the Gamers Outreach Sky Loft – a hospitality lounge with privileged views of the arena floor, set aside as an area for guests and partners. Premium food items and beverages will be served in a relaxing atmosphere, overlooking the entirety of the Gamers for Giving venue.
    • Extra table space: VIPs receive an extra foot of table space.
    • Extra power outlet: VIPS receive 3 power outlets instead of 2.
    • Early access to the venue: VIPs will be able to set up their rigs before all other Gamers for Giving attendees.
    • Gamers for Giving t-shirt: VIPs receive a Gamers for Giving t-shirt as part of their purchase!

  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Player Pass:
    $25 Online
    $35 At The Door
    Purchase this pass to compete in the Gamers for Giving 2020 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament on Nintendo Switch. This pass grants 1 player with access to the event.

  • Spectator Pass: $0 Online
    There is no fee for spectating at Gamers for Giving, though we’d encourage you to consider making a donation during the event! Register online for a spectator pass if you are a parent accommodating a minor, member of the press, or just someone who wants to come and check out the event!

Be sure to help spread Gamers for Giving hype by tweeting with the hashtag #GFG2020, and check the Gamers for Giving website for the latest news regarding this year’s event! We’re looking forward to seeing you on March 28th & 29th at the EMU Convocation Center!

Annual Summary: 2018 – 2019

In our annual report covering 2018 – 2019, Zach Wigal – founder of Gamers Outreach – reflects on our identity as a video game charity, the growth of our programs, and the importance of providing hospitalized families with access to recreation. This summary covers our 2018 financials, which influenced program activity in both 2018 and 2019. Distinctions are noted where applicable.

As a lifelong video game enthusiast, I get excited sharing stories about my favorite video games to anyone willing to listen. That passion for gaming is amplified in hospitals, where it’s clear video games make a tremendous difference in the lives of people receiving care.

In the midst of hard times, kids deserve a chance to be themselves. As gamers, we’re in a unique position to exercise our knowledge in a way that reinforces healthcare staff and brings relief to children undergoing treatment.

Over the last 12 years, our team has been on a quest to help make hospitals more fun. It’s our belief entertainment brings people together through activity and story. Being in the hospital can be lonely and stressful. Our goal at Gamers Outreach is to restore a sense of normalcy and joy in people’s lives – and we do it through video games!

In the midst of our enthusiasm to be helpful, it’s important to know what we stand for while also being considerate of the healthcare environment.

Our Vision, Mission, & Core Beliefs

Gamers Outreach is a for-purpose organization that provides equipment, technology, and software to help patients cope with treatment inside hospitals. We exist to inspire and heal patients through play. We believe in a world where technology is used to help prioritize the patient experience alongside research and care.

This sense of purpose is guided by five tenets:

  • We are gamers.
    We are video game enthusiasts on a mission to help our fellow gamers in hospitals. We are stewards of an organization that serves as a source of relief for hospital patients, and a conduit for video game enthusiasts to give back through their passion. We have dedicated ourselves to ensuring Gamers Outreach is a trusted charity for gamers and those supported by our work. We are committed to games being used for good. We are a gaming brand that enables interactive experiences in hospitals.
  • We inspire and heal through play.
    We believe access to recreation helps enrich a person’s quality of life. This is especially evident while a person is receiving care in a hospital setting. Our organization provides resources that help make video game content readily available and easy to manage in hospitals.
  • Why do we do it.
    We stand for kids, their families, and hospital staff providing care. Undergoing medical treatment can often be a scary and isolating experience, especially for young people. We believe video games are diverse platform capable of improving the patient experience. Our programs aid the healing process by providing entertainment, relief, socialization, and a sense of normalcy to families and patients spending time inside hospitals.
  • We value community.
    Our organization was founded by a community of gamers determined to make a difference. Our programs are driven by community involvement. We believe the video game community is capable of doing incredible good. We hope to inspire fellow gamers to engage with their local hospitals.
  • We are stewards – helping others level up!
    Our staff and volunteers embody the identity, mission, and community values of Gamers Outreach programs. We are responsible for ensuring our programs add value to the lives of patients, their families, and hospital staff. Our team bridges the gap between the gaming community and the hospital environment. Every action on behalf of the organization should prioritize the well-being of our community and those we support in hospitals.

Our Programs

Over the years, we’ve observed healthcare staff largely face two challenges in relation to providing digital activities to patients:

  • Many hospitals are not equipped with entertainment devices or infrastructure that make gaming content readily accessible to patients (e.g. consoles, controllers, monitors, games, etc.)
  • When technology is present, it can be difficult for hospital staff to manage entertainment due to a number of factors (unfamiliarity with equipment, existing responsibilities, ease of mobility, bandwidth limitations, etc.)

Currently, the majority of our resources are dedicated towards addressing these challenges through two initiatives:

  • Project GO Kart: Gamers Outreach constructs portable video game kiosks called “GO Karts” (Gamers Outreach Karts). These kiosks are a tool that help staff easily provide bedside activities to children unable to leave their rooms. Each GO Kart is equipped with a gaming console, monitor, and assortment of games. The carts provide an efficient way to ensure kids have access to entertainment and coping mechanisms during hospitalization. Each unit also has an internal lift mechanism, which allows healthcare staff to adjust the GO Kart to a patient’s bedside, accommodating a variety of medical scenarios when a patient’s mobility may be limited.
  • Player 2: Player 2 is a program where gamers have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they’ve acquired through gaming in a manner that supports patients and staff within hospitals. By volunteering, gamers become “digital activity managers” and serve by managing equipment, providing tech support, and playing games with patients. Many hospitals receive game donations, but without proper staffing to manage inventory at a mass scale, it can become difficult for tech donations to properly serve patients as intended. Player 2 helps address this issue by ensuring knowledgeable individuals are present to distribute technology and exercise its positive benefits.

Current Impact

Since last year’s report, our collective program footprint has grown by 40%. Nearly 700 GO Karts now exist across more than 200 hospitals in the United States and Canada!

Based on feedback from hospitals, we estimate each GO Kart is used by an average of 6 – 8 children per day. With this metric in mind, our fleet of units has capacity to support between  1.5 – 2 million play sessions annually!

It’s important to emphasize we think of our impact in terms of play sessions. There are instances a GO Kart may be used by the same child day-to-day. There are also scenarios where a GO Kart is deployed in a playroom and used by 20+ children per day. Our patient impact reflects what we believe to be “potential capacity” for use given the number of GO Karts which exist in hospitals.

Currently, we believe this estimate is realistic given the scale of healthcare as well as feedback from hospital staff. As an example: in 2018, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles reported more than 556,000 patient visits. That’s a single hospital. A GO Kart deployed in such a facility is likely to be shared by a wide number of patients each day.

Frequent visitors to our website may have also noticed a small change to our impact map – it’s now global.

By direct request, we’ve begun making GO Karts available to hospitals overseas. As of this writing, a small handful of units are scheduled to be deployed beyond North America in 2020 with help from respective donors.

It will still be some time before we’re consistently deploying GO Karts globally. Our focus is the United States, and general donations fuel our national work. But it’s wonderful to recognize the sense of cultural unity games facilitate, and our ability as gamers to make a difference worldwide.

We’ve continued to encourage gamer volunteerism within hospitals. Most notably, a program page now exists for our initiative, Player 2! For those interested in making an on-going volunteer commitment, check the program page to find a participating hospital. Even if a participating facility isn’t nearby, it’s still worthwhile to submit a volunteer application in the event a new hospital is added!

Open enrollment is also now available for hospitals interested in welcoming Player 2 volunteers. If you’re a hospital staffer that could benefit from Player 2, fill out the “Hospital Enrollment” form on the Player 2 program page.

Note: each hospital we work with is capable of supporting only a limited number of Player 2 volunteers. Not all applicants may have the opportunity to participate in the initiative. That said, we still have a number of general volunteer opportunities available to help setup GO Karts, or assist hospitals with tech support!

Finances

With help from the gaming community and a number of committed donors, Gamers Outreach generated $1.6 million in contributions during the 2018 fiscal year – a 23% increase from 2017.

Our fundraising growth was made possible thanks to broader awareness of our initiatives, and an increase in overall support across multiple revenue categories (individual donors, stream campaigns, sponsors, grants, earned program revenue, etc).

Notably, we were fortunate to be generously supported by developers behind the popular video game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, as well as our friends at Child’s Play, who played a large role in helping us expand our GO Kart program to hospitals around the United States.

Our functional expenses more than doubled from 2017, with nearly $1 million being spent within the calendar year to facilitate our increased impact in hospitals. During this period of growth, our spending ratio remained nearly identical to 2017, with over 80% of our total expenses being allocated for programs.

The end result? As noted above – our program range has dramatically increased, and we’re now capable of supporting an additional 500,000 play sessions for hospitalized kids since last year’s report!

For those interested, our full Form 990 can be downloaded here.

Our annual streaming marathon & LAN party, Gamers for Giving, still holds the title as being our largest fundraiser year over year. A number of sponsors make the event possible, and it’s thanks to a handful of enthusiastic streamers we’ve been able to continue to expand Gamers Outreach programs. While it won’t be reflected until our next 990 release, Gamers for Giving 2019 brought in over $637,000!

Looking ahead, Gamers for Giving 2020 will take place on March 28th & 29th at the EMU Convocation Center. This will be our 12th annual fundraiser, and we’re hoping to raise $700,000 over the course of the big weekend. Registration will open in mid January, and information for the event can be found at www.GamersforGiving.org.

Defining Success & The Future

Ultimately, we’re here to help revolutionize the patient experience in hospitals. That’s a grand vision – and it’s difficult to make blanket objectives that encompass the diverse landscape of children’s hospitals around the country.

To bridge the gap, last year we defined a core set of categories that help us define “success” in each hospital we work. Every hospital is different, but we believe these four considerations are ubiquitous across facilities:

  • Equipment / Content Saturation. Each hospital environment is unique in its ability to house equipment and provide patients with access to content. Simply put: a 600 bed facility has different hardware and content needs than a 20 bed facility. Our long-term goal is to assist hospitals in reaching their unique “saturation points” so that content is readily available to patients.
  • Patient Engagement. We define patient engagement in terms of access to activity. What entertainment offerings existed (if any) to patients prior to Gamers Outreach programs, and how accessible were those activities to patients? Example: did patients need to wait X hours before they were able to play a video game, or were games available immediately?
  • Improved Patient Outcomes. In our experience, hospitals place a high degree of importance on measuring “patient outcomes.” Loosely defined, this encompasses how quickly / fully a patient recovers during treatment. We believe games are capable of contributing towards improved patient outcomes. We are presently engaged in assisting with research to determine what (if any) statistical correlations exist.
  • Improved Patient Experience. For our purposes, we think of patient experience as the overall sentiment a person may have during hospitalization. It can also be an indicator of how a patient “feels” day-to-day. Patients often report their “pain scores” to attending healthcare staff, which help determine sense of comfort or injury tolerance. We believe games are capable of facilitating improved patient experiences.

Thank You!

Gamers Outreach wouldn’t exist without ongoing support from the gaming community and the tireless dedication of hospital staff making a difference in the lives of kids and their families.

Thank you to everyone who has continued to be a champion for kids in hospitals. As gamers, it’s been an honor for our team to make this work a reality.

From everyone at Gamers Outreach, we wish you a wonderful holiday season, and a fantastic new year. We hope you’ll join us in helping others level up in 2020!

Gamers Outreach Founder Named Top 10 CNN Hero

Voting to select the 2019 CNN Hero of the year has begun! Please vote for Zach Wigal each day here!

Exciting news, friends! CNN has announced their top 10 heroes of the year, and our founder Zach Wigal has been selected!

The selected heroes this year cover a wide variety of charitable causes. One hero brings transformative help to women and children, providing necessities, education and job training to those in an economically depressed city; another provides refurbished RV’s to displaced families after California’s worst wildfire; one provides tools and support to children grieving the loss of a parent or sibling and another shelters the pets of domestic violence victims so that their owners can get back on their feet. These are just some of the ways in which this year’s Top 10 CNN Heroes have dedicated their lives to changing the world.

The Peabody and Emmy Award-winning campaign celebrates individuals who are making extraordinary contributions to help improve the lives of others. Anderson Cooper will be joined by Kelly Ripa as co-host of the 13th Annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute. The awards show, which celebrates all Top 10 honorees, will air Sunday, December 8th at 8pm ET live from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Beginning October 30th, voters can select the ‘CNN Hero of the Year’ by voting for the Top 10 CNN Hero who inspires them the most. Supporters can vote daily at CNNHeroes.com by logging in via email or Facebook. Viewers get 10 votes a day, every day through Tuesday, December 3rd at 11:59pm PT. All 10 daily votes can be cast for one hero or divided among favorites.  This year, viewers can even double their votes by rallying friends on social media.

The 2019 Top 10 CNN Heroes are (in alphabetical order):

  • STACI ALONSO (Las Vegas, NV) Alonso’s nonprofit, Noah’s Animal House, located on the grounds of domestic violence shelters, allows women to keep their beloved pets close as they get back on their feet.
  • NAJAH BAZZY (Detroit, MI) In one of America’s most economically depressed cities, Bazzy and her nonprofit, Zaman International, bring transformative help to women and children providing basic necessities, education and job training.
  • WOODY FAIRCLOTH (Denver, CO) Faircloth and his group, RV4CampfireFamily, deliver free refurbished RVs to displaced families rebuilding their lives after California’s worst wildfire.
  • FREWEINI MEBRAHTU (Mekelle, Ethiopia) Mebrahtu along with partner, Dignity Period, is fighting the cultural stigma around menstruation in Ethiopia by educating students and producing reusable pads that help girls stay in school.
  • MARK MEYERS (San Angelo, TX) Meyers and his nonprofit, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, are dedicated to rescuing abused and neglected donkeys and giving them a new lease on life.
  • RICHARD MILES (Dallas, TX) Wrongfully convicted for a crime he did not commit at age 19, Miles served 15 years in a Texas prison. Now he and his nonprofit, Miles of Freedom, help the formerly incarcerated restart their lives.
  • ROGER MONTOYA (Española, NM) In an area of New Mexico hard-hit by the opioid crisis, Montoya provides healing and hope through creative expression at his nonprofit arts center, Moving Arts Española.
  • MARY ROBINSON (Mountainside, NJ) Robinson’s nonprofit, Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, provides tools, support and a place to heal for children grieving the loss of a parent or sibling.
  • AFROZ SHAH (Mumbai, India) What started as a personal journey to clean one beach turned into the world’s largest volunteer beach clean-up. The Afroz Shah Foundation is on a mission to protect the ocean by clearing trash from beaches and waterways and through education.
  • ZACH WIGAL (Ann Arbor, MI) Wigal’s nonprofit, Gamers Outreach, is turning gaming into therapy, bringing the camaraderie and excitement of video games to sick kids who can’t leave their hospital rooms during long-term medical treatment.

Each Top 10 CNN Hero are awarded $10,000 and the ‘CNN Hero of the Year’ will receive an additional $100,000 for their cause. The honorees will also receive free capacity-building training from the Annenberg Foundation, a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide. They will participate in a customized version of the Annenberg Alchemy program in Los Angeles, CA, which offers leadership development to help strengthen organizations for long-term success.  This is the eighth year of CNN’s collaboration with the Annenberg Foundation.

“CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” will stream live for subscribers on December 8th via CNNgo (at CNN.com/go and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Samsung Smart TV and Android TV) and on the CNN mobile apps for iOS and Android. “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” will also be available the day after the broadcast premieres on demand via cable/satellite systems, CNNgo platforms and CNN mobile apps.

Last but certainly not least, WE NEED YOUR HELP! As mentioned earlier, the Hero of the Year award is given to the charity with the most votes. Securing this epic win would mean the world for our team, as well as the kids and families we support in hospitals. Your vote is needed to bring home the trophy! This award is a representation of the joy games can bring to people in hospitals around the world. We’re asking for your vote and help to spread the word!

Vote here each day and let’s help others level up!

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Lightstream Donates GO Karts to Lurie Children’s Hospital

The portable, medical-grade video game kiosks help nurses provide bedside activities to children unable to leave their hospital room

CHICAGO, Thursday, September 19, 2019 Lightstream, an innovator in live streaming technology, delivered two GO Karts, portable, medical-grade video game kiosks, to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago on August 6, 2019. These GO Karts were made possible through sponsorship and funds raised at Gamers Outreach’s annual fundraising event Gamers for Giving. A short video documenting the hospital delivery and history of Lightstream’s involvement with the charity can be viewed here.

Lightstream has been a proud supporter of Gamers for Giving since the company was founded, and has increased its involvement and sponsorship each year. As the title sponsor in 2019, Lightstream helped streamers raise enough money for dozens of Karts and even one of their own. A second Kart was donated through Lightstream’s community manager Brandon Stennis (IAmBrandon on Twitch) who participated as a streamer and raised the money from his viewers. Additionally, Lightstream matched donations for Mixer streamer ActaBunniFooFoo to raise enough for one Kart to be delivered to a hospital of his choice.

 

“Since the beginning, the Lightstream founders wanted to use our company to give back. Having been friends of Zach and Gamers Outreach for years, we became a small sponsor of the Streamer Zone at Gamers for Giving during our very first year of business with the goal of multiplying the streamers and Lightstream’s fundraising impact,” said Stu Grubbs, Lightstream CEO. “Every year we have increased that sponsorship as we were more successful and in 2019, we were proud to be the title sponsor for the event. While we have helped raise money for many karts over the years, 2019 was even more rewarding as we participated in our first hospital delivery and saw the real impact the karts and the organization have on these children and families. It feels special to take our love for gaming, our hard work on Lightstream, and use that to have an impact on so many lives.”

Gamers Outreach constructs portable, medical-grade video game kiosks called “GO Karts” (Gamers Outreach Karts). These kiosks enable nurses to easily provide bedside activities to children unable to leave their rooms in hospitals. Each GO Kart is equipped with a gaming console, monitor, and an assortment of games. The carts provide a safe, flexible, and efficient way to ensure kids have access to entertainment and coping mechanisms during long-term hospitalization. Each unit also has an internal lift mechanism, which allows healthcare staff to adjust the GO Kart to a patient’s bedside, accommodating a variety of medical scenarios which may limit a patient’s mobility.

In 2019 Gamers for Giving surpassed its goal generating nearly $640,000 in support of Gamers Outreach programs. They estimate these funds will help them support an additional 398,000 children and families. Since its inception in 2008, Gamers for Giving has become one of the largest LAN parties in North America. The weekend-long competitive gaming tournament, LAN party, and streamathon raises money through sponsorships, ticket sales, and donations from stream broadcasts to help fund Gamers Outreach programs year-to-year, including the GO Kart Program which provides entertainment devices to hospitalized children.

“We believe it’s important for Gamers for Giving to exist,” said Zach Wigal, Founder of Gamers Outreach.

“The event has become part of our cultural identity – it’s a chance for gamers to combine their passion for gaming with charitable action. It’s a live demonstration of what the community is capable of when we come together in service of others.”

For pictures from the ceremony please click here

Be sure to follow Lightstream on Twitter and at https://www.golightstream.com.
Follow Gamers Outreach on Twitter, instagram and Facebook

 

About Lightstream

Lightstream is a Chicago-based startup built with a true passion for live video production, gaming and supporting the explosive growth of creators and their communities. Its cloud-based technology and products transform difficult technical hurdles into streamlined workflows. Lightstream empowers creators to effortlessly share their passion, talent, and creativity on live streaming platforms like Mixer, Twitch, Facebook, YouTube and more.

About Gamers Outreach

Founded in 2007, Gamers Outreach is a 501(c)(3) charity organization that provides equipment, technology, and software to help kids cope with treatment inside hospitals. We aim to inspire and heal patients through the power of interactive play.

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Media Contact:

Wendy Knowles
Lightstream
wendy@golightstream.com
(813) 447-9035

Ian Carr
Gamers Outreach
icarr@gamersoutreach.org
(203) 209-1203

Dev Team Expansion: Welcome Christie St. Martin

Another Dev Team update to share, fellow gamers! This week, we’re excited to welcome Christie St. Martin to the Gamers Outreach family!

The Dev Team is our (growing) advisory board, created to support directors and staff within Gamers Outreach. Each member helps lead development efforts which expand the impact of Gamers Outreach programs. Their involvement provides our team with valuable third-party perspective on internal discussions, and their passion for our cause helps rally community action.

Our intent is to cultivate this advisory board to be comprised of professionals from a wide range of disciplines (both within and outside the gaming industry). A few key qualities guide our consideration of candidates. Dev Team members must be/have…

  • Senior-level professionals with experience working in gaming, medical, or corporate environments.
  • Record of securing grants, sponsorship, or external resources for programs, corporate initiatives, or services.
  • Demonstrated excellence in forming relationships that advanced a particular program, company, or cause.
  • Exemplary leadership skills. Dev Team members must be able to foster a team environment and work collaboratively when necessary.
  • Dev Team members are effective communicators, able to identify areas for improvement, and help advance the organization’s mission.

Christie is a former competitive Counter-Strike player who has over a decade and a half of marketing and strategy experience under her belt. Notably she has managed social media communities and produced content for companies like J.P. Morgan Chase, L’Oréal, and Viacom. She has built social and creative marketing strategies for clients like Twitch, Samsung, Microsoft, Epic Games, and PUBG. Christie is currently the gaming director at IMC, an experience studio that creates extraordinary audience engagements for the world’s best known brands. She is also on the advisory board for Hallid.ai AI Gaming, the developers of Fridai, an AI powered virtual gaming assistant.

Christie joins Gamers Outreach with a unique perspective, having experienced the healing power of games firsthand.

I have been a passionate supporter of Gamers Outreach before being asked to join the team and I am thrilled to help support them from this side of the table now. One of the many reasons why their initiative speaks to me, other than being a mom of two, is because I spent a large portion of my life in my late teens and early adulthood being very ill. During that time, gaming gave me the building blocks that laid the foundation for reconstructing my confidence and passion for life. I was a lifelong gamer but the rest of my life felt like it was on pause for years. I think gaming often gets the bad rap of being just another form of escapism but for me it was a solitary window to the rest of the world. I was able to conquer complex challenges, complete achievements, and be with a community of people who didn’t treat me like I wasn’t different or sick. Games made me feel like I was capable of anything. Not only do I fondly remember that time of my life despite what I was going through, but without those years I am not sure I would have the career or opportunities I have today.

Gaming was a passion for my whole life and now I get to spend every day doing what I love. Unlocking achievements, solving puzzles, completing challenges and learning to lead and/or be a part of a team developed skills for me as a kid that were so important and powerful that I incorporate those learnings into my adult life and career every day. Whether I’m building a marketing strategy or assembling a team for a project, I utilize the skills that were honed in games. Whether your kid will be the next Ninja or not, gaming offers opportunities for children. It fuels entertainment born passion and helps inform their professional career choices later in life and that is a magical thing.

When asked about the value of Gamers Outreach programs, Christie had this to say…

Gamers Outreach gives kids much more than just a form of entertainment in a hospital setting. It gives them the ability to solve strategic puzzles, reach goals, and have a sense of community. These things are an enrichment to their life which right now might feel like it’s on pause. I will always continue to advocate for hitting the reset button on how mainstream culture perceives time spent on gaming. I know personally how important it was for my growth, education, confidence, and continues to give me opportunities as an adult. Now I get to take on the challenge to help change kids’ lives and I am so proud to be a part of this incredible team.

We’re thrilled to have Christie on The Dev Team, and look forward to working with her to expand the impact of our programs. Please join us in welcoming her to the crew!

We’re Hiring!

Applications can be submitted here.

Wonderful news to share, gaming family! WE ARE HIRING!

Gamers Outreach Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that helps thousands of hospitalized children benefit from the power of interactive play. As witnesses ourselves, it’s clear digital recreation creates a sense of joy and relief for children undergoing medical treatment.

Each day, healthcare professionals rely on entertainment as a means for improving a child’s quality of life. But finding the resources to deploy hardware or manage content can prove challenging amidst other priorities. We believe gamers are capable of filling the void.

Simultaneously, we’ve seen an increase in activity among content creators (and their respective communities) who are eager to make a difference. Our intent is to ensure streamers are empowered to engage with Gamers Outreach programs, and we want to prove their impact along the way.

We are seeking a Community Program Manager to engage our volunteer network and serve as a front-facing resource for Gamers Outreach supporters. This person will be responsible for overseeing our volunteer community and nurturing relationships with content creators.

This is a dual purpose role that requires a mix of skills. The ideal candidate is a “people person” with a finely tuned awareness of gaming culture. Reporting to our Marketing Director, this person will work alongside the Executive Director and Operations Director to become an expert on the organization’s programmatic work. The Community Program Manager will be a steward of existing volunteers and streamers, responsible for fostering a network of engaged and inspired supporters.

We’re looking for a high energy team player who is capable of working autonomously to materialize our vision through the power of community. This is a remote position.

Read below for the specific responsibilities! We’ll begin initial discussions with qualified candidates the week of September 1st, 2019. Applications can be submitted here.

Role: Community Program Manager

Responsibilities:

  • Partner with Operations Director to implement and oversee “Player 2” initiative in healthcare facilities. Foster and refine program implementation strategy while tracking key growth and impact metrics.
  • Grow and lead our volunteer community. Employ a coaching mentality to support volunteer engagement and activity. Define and personally manage best practices for volunteer recruitment and retention.
  • Cultivate our relationships with hospital partners. Conduct semi-regular audits to assess Gamers Outreach impact and overall program effectiveness / status.
  • In partnership with Development & Marketing teams, become point of contact for streamers / content creators. Support the development and execution of annual “Gamers for Giving” fundraiser. Create meaningful content and reporting that connects streamers and their communities with our work and their impact. Launch and nurture ambassador program.
  • Lead the creation of annual events pipeline, working closely with marketing to create a integrated plan that drives revenue and awareness of Gamers Outreach programs.
  • Assist Marketing with content production across digital platforms (e.g. blog posts, community events, podcasts, video interviews).

Must- Haves

  • 3 – 5 years of community management / digital marketing experience
  • Strong interpersonal and communication (written and oral) skills with the ability to work well cross-functionally and interact with internal / external stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated success managing and growing online communities for brands and/or consumer goods companies.
  • Natural on-camera personality. Comfortable fielding interview requests and appearances, representing Gamers Outreach programs.
  • Deep knowledge of streaming platforms (Twitch, YouTube, Mixer) and their respective communities.
  • The ideal candidate is a video game enthusiast with a passion for making a difference in the world. This person believes in the cause of Gamers Outreach.
  • Experience as a content creator or managing creative teams (photographers, agencies, graphic designers, videographers). The ideal candidate has technical streaming knowledge.
  • Solid expertise in all areas of marketing strategy development including customer targeting, brand strategy, integrated communications planning, brand and corporate partnerships, campaign measurement and optimization, digital and social media strategy and analytics.
  • Ability to travel 15% – 25% of the time (domestically)
  • Strong understanding of technology and software pertinent to the role.
  • Preference for a candidate that has experience working with video game content creators.

Skills

  • You take initiative.
    You see something that needs improvement and you take action. You propose solutions to problems. You have a proven ability to plan, lead, implement and track projects from concept through implementation. You’re proactive about making sure various departments have the information they need about your projects. You work well autonomously.
  • You know what you’re doing.
    You’re a born people person with a proven track record managing a high performing community function. You’re a true community generalist with a broad range of hands-on experience. You have a strong understanding of the online gaming community and a deep understanding of all today’s online community channels (e.g. email, marketing automation, social media, display, affiliate, stream platforms). You can handle just about anything that comes your way.
  • You’re a communications ace.
    You know that the secret to success is keeping people in the know. You not only know what to communicate but when, how and why it’s important. You possess exceptional interpersonal, oral and written communication skills. You love bringing out the best in others.
  • You’re big hearted.
    You take pride in being a do-gooder and live with a sense of altruism in your personal and professional life. You have a genuine concern for others and want to make the world a better place.
  • You’re a leader.
    Community leadership and participation (both online and offline) are integral to the success of this role. An essential component of this role is communicating the Gamers Outreach brand and those we represent in a positive, authentic way.

Benefits

Working at Gamers Outreach comes with a variety of benefits! FTEs can expect the following:

  • Retirement
    • 401k / Roth IRA and employer match.
  • Healthcare 
    • Top notch healthcare coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield (PPO).
    • Dental & Vision included.
    • Direct family included (spouse / children).
  • Flexible Time Off
    • Unlimited vacation policy. Just make sure your work is done!
    • Paid holidays.
    • Remote work environment. 
  • Weekly Staff Gaming Session
    • Time allotment for gaming on Friday afternoon with co-workers.
  • Sabbatical
    • After 4 years employees are encouraged to take a 4 – 6 week paid sabbatical to pursue their personal goals or learn new skills. 
  • Pet / Child Friendly
    • Boarding / Babysitter expense account when traveling for Gamers Outreach.