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Annual Summary: 2016 – 2017

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The year-end is an exciting time. It’s an opportunity for reflection, gratitude, and preparation.

I often think on our role within hospitals as a video game industry charity, and how we can be of help to patients. To that end, our purpose remains clear: Gamers Outreach exists to inspire and heal patients through the power of interactive play. By providing equipment, technology, and software to hospitals, we’re actively working to ensure children have access to activities during treatment. At our core, we’re a group of video game enthusiasts eager to make a difference.


Through the last decade of service, we’ve come to learn a lot about the healthcare environment. As our programs have expanded – and the breadth of supported hospitals has increased –  I’ve become more convinced of the incredible benefit games have in the hospital setting. I’ve also been surprised to realize how much work there is yet to be done. We’ve talked extensively about the role of video games in hospitals, and we know hospital staff turn to games as a way to provide children with access to activities. However, many hospitals still lack streamlined hardware mechanisms that ensure content is available to patients. With that, we also know it’s often difficult for staff to actively manage equipment and accessories even when they’re made available.

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One of our solutions has been Project GO Kart, and the majority of our focus this past year has been on effectively scaling the manufacturing process of the carts to meet the demands of hospitals nationwide. Even while undergoing manufacturing upgrades, 2017 was a strong period of growth, and the generosity we’ve seen from the gaming community has astounded our team. Our outreach has expanded significantly in the course of the past year. In our last annual report, I mentioned Gamers Outreach programs were benefiting an estimated 105,000 children across 19 hospitals. Since then, the impact of our programs has more than doubled. At the time of this writing, Project GO Kart is benefiting as many as 236,000 patients in nearly 30 hospitals around the U.S.

What’s more, thanks to some major fundraising events and partners this year, (e.g. PUBG, Child’s Play, Gamers for Giving 2017) in 2018 we expect Gamers Outreach programs to be of service to more than 800,000 children in nearly 200 healthcare facilities.

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With this expansion comes the need for increased capacity. We’re actively recruiting volunteers willing to help fulfill Gamers Outreach programs at their local hospital. For us, volunteer opportunities within hospitals take on a couple different forms:

  • Player 2: Though only available in a select few hospitals, by Q2 2018 we anticipate rolling out a dedicated program page for the Player 2 initiative on our website. Through Player 2, we’ve been inviting gamers to serve as “digital activity managers.” Volunteers help solve minor tech problems, distribute software, and play games with patients. As of this writing, Player 2 exists in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and recently launched in Rady Children’s Hospital (San Diego).
  • GO Kart Race Crew: We’re looking for volunteers throughout the U.S. & Canada who can assist with regional GO Kart deliveries. As a Race Crew member, you’ll be volunteering to ensure GO Karts are fully operational once they’ve been shipped to hospitals. If you’re interested, check out the full write-up here.

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As you can see, the next several months will be quite busy for our team. However, even with the dramatic expansion of supported patients, we’re barely reaching the incredible volume of children hospitalized annually. Each year, millions of kids are treated across hundreds of hospitals around the country, and we’ve realized the benefit in teaming up with other folks working in the hospital setting. In 2018, you’ll see us joining up with groups like Child’s Play and AbleGamers to extend our collective impact. Earlier in the year, we also partnered with organizations like GameChanger charity to help drive awareness of the various ways games can help in hospitals. In other words, yes – 2017 marked the beginning of the video game charity justice league, and we couldn’t be more excited to share this work with such wonderful partners.

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This growth wouldn’t be possible without the help of our community. In 2016, total public support for Gamers Outreach programs tallied nearly $430,000.00. And while it won’t be formally noted until next year’s report – our 2017 revenue is hovering between $1.5 – $2 million. Funding in support of our initiatives is largely driven by grassroots contributions via the gaming community and hospital donor networks. That said, in the last year, we’ve been able to diversify our revenue streams to include a slightly wider spread of grants and program-related services. Thankfully we’ve been able to maintain fairly lean operating costs alongside this increase in resources. Our 2016 management and operating expenses accounted for less than 13% of total expenditures. For those curious, our full 2016 Form 990 can be found here.

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A major driver of Gamers Outreach culture and impact is our annual fundraiser, Gamers for Giving. Through ticket sales, online donations, sponsorship, and with the help of Twitch broadcasters – more than $315,000 was generated at our 2017 event! In 2018, we’ll be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Gamers for Giving – truly a momentous occasion. It was in 2008 we hosted our first LAN party (one that didn’t get shut down by police), marking the start of Gamers Outreach programs. The event will be taking place on April 28th / 29th, and we’ll be chasing down a $350,000 fundraising goal! This will certainly be the largest fundraiser we’ve organized, and we can’t wait to chase down the goal with all our attendees and supporters online. If you’re near Michigan or feel like making the trip, we invite you to join us! Registration will open on January 26th, and information for the event will be posted on GamersforGiving.org.

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From everyone at team Gamers Outreach, we’d like to thank you for your support throughout 2016 & 2017! It’s a privilege to do this work, and we look forward to making an even greater impact for children and their families in 2018!

Have a wonderful new year! We’ll see you in 2018!

Zach Wigal
Founder, Gamers Outreach

Patrick Peterson Dedicates GO Karts to Phoenix Children’s

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Known for his lock-down defensive style on the football field, Patrick Peterson is one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks and a captain of the Arizona Cardinals.

But this week, he was working a different type of coverage.

Twenty minutes from the Arizona Cardinal’s home field, University of Phoenix Stadium, Patrick Peterson arrived at Phoenix Children’s Hospital last Monday with an assortment of holiday gifts for the kids. Among toys, dolls, and other presents, Patrick dedicated three GO Karts that will serve hospital patients for years to come.

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Our Founder, Zach Wigal, was present to personally dedicate the carts along with Patrick and the Patrick Peterson Foundation For Success. The addition of these new GO Karts emphasizes the clear wants and needs of the children receiving care from the hospital. Entertainment is an important component of improving the quality of life of patients, easing the recovery process. With Patrick’s kind donation, the total number of carts at Phoenix Children’s is up to seven, and smiles will be spreading faster than ever amongst the kiddos.

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We’d like to extend a massive “Thank You!” to P2 and his team for making this donation happen and personally delivering the GO Karts. The entire Gamers Outreach organization looks forward to a lasting relationship filled with more smiles and entertainment!

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Gamers for Giving 2018: Registration Opens January 26th

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Mark your calendars! Gamers for Giving 2018 tickets will go on sale Friday, January 26th at 10 AM Eastern!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be updating the Gamers for Giving website with all kinds of goodness related to our 2018 event. Be on the lookout as we share our list of headline tournaments, travel information, ticket availability, and various ways you can support the big fundraising goal!

As we get closer to April, we’ll start rolling out our broadcast schedule, as well as any special activities taking place on the big weekend. If you plan on attending, make sure you’re ready to buy tickets on the 26th! All of our LAN party seats sold out within 24 hours last year O_O.

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of Gamers for Giving. We can’t wait to celebrate the occasion and make an even bigger difference for hospitalized kids and their families.

Hope to see you on April 28th & 29th at the EMU Convocation Center!

Xbox Holiday Giveaway – Thanks PUBG!

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Over the past year, we’ve been honored to receive an incredible amount of support from our friends at PUBG Corp. Collectively, with help from the community, the PUBG team has been able to raise more than $363,000 in support of Gamers Outreach programs.

That’s a lot of chicken dinners… and GO Karts for kiddos.

It all started earlier this year with the 2017 Charity Invitational. During a single 12 hour event, streamers joined together to raise more than $200,000 for Gamers Outreach, with $100K coming via a direct contribution from the game’s developers. Closing out the year strong, PUBG and Twitch recently teamed up again to host a winter charity fundraiser – generating an additional $140,000 to further our work in hospitals.

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And did we mention 50% of their merchandise sales are being donated to Gamers Outreach and our friends at GameChanger? How generous can one game dev be!?

As a small token of appreciation, we’re giving away five game keys for the newest iteration of PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, recently made available on Xbox!

You can enter for the chance to win by clicking here.

Each action grants an additional entry, so be sure to increase your chances!

Our deepest thanks go out to PUBG Corp. and the community of gamers who’ve helped been a part of this year’s massive fundraising effort. We can’t wait for you to all see the result of this work as GO Karts are deployed nationwide!

 

Huntsville Children’s Receives GO Karts!

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The Gamers Outreach holiday season is in full swing and dedications from our recent batch of GO Karts continue! Last week we had the chance to visit Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. Thanks to a generous contribution from our sponsor ADTRAN, two GO Karts were delivered to patients at the facility!

Local WHNT News 19 was on site to cover the event, and grabbed a few quotes from our founder as well as the child life specialists at the hospital:

Patients and staff alike were elated by the addition of the new GO Karts, and both units were put to use as soon as they arrived. With a fairly limited supply of toys and games at the hospital, it was apparent these two GO Karts are going to have an immense impact for patients and their families. Full coverage from the event can be found here.

ADTRAN, a sponsor of Gamers for Giving 2017, has been incredibly supportive of Gamers Outreach programs. With a large presence of employees in Huntsville, the ADTRAN staff chose to make their first GO Kart delivery to Huntsville Children’s in an effort to support their local community. The GO Karts were built thanks to the company’s employee donation program (Team ADTRAN), and we were excited to share the experience of a GO Kart delivery with members from their crew.

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This contribution marks our first foray into the state of Alabama, and we’re so proud ADTRAN helped make it possible! We hope it’s just the first of many more to come.

Our thanks go out to Team ADTRAN for their support of Gamers Outreach & Gamers for Giving, and of course, to the staff and patients of Huntsville Women & Children’s for accomodating our delivery! We hope you enjoy your GO Karts!

For the kids, by the kids: CHLA Receives 10 GO Karts

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Last week, we had the opportunity to celebrate Giving Tuesday with our friends at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – and to say the least, it was a special day.

10 brand new GO Karts have been dedicated to serve patients at the hospital. Appropriately, these units were built thanks to the fundraising efforts of some of the youngest donors we’ve had the pleasure to work with – The Junior Ambassadors of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Los Angeles news network KABC-TV channel 7 came out to cover the story:

The Junior Ambassadors of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are kids and teens from the community who support the hospital’s life saving work. The program offers kids the opportunity to work together and become incredible hospital representatives and fundraisers. It’s a powerful and inspiring model of kids helping kids. Since 2012, Junior Ambassadors have given hope to the Los Angeles community by speaking at various events, sharing their stories and inspiring more than $1.6 million in donations to support the hospital’s patients and families.

Through months of fundraising efforts, the Junior Ambassadors were able to collectively generate more than $35,000 in contributions to build a whopping 10 GO Karts for patients! To date, their delivery ties Aaron Greenberg’s campaign for most carts delivered in a single dedication. This brings the total unit count within Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to 17 GO Karts, the most of any facility we support at the time of this writing. Staff at the hospital have told us they hope to eventually receive/acquire up to 50.

For our team, this delivery was a surreal full-circle moment. It was inspiring to meet children so young eager to make a difference through their shared passion for gaming. The enthusiasm of the young ambassadors goes to show charitable giving can start at any age and through any circumstance. Brooks Vogt, age 7, was excited to give back. He’s beat cancer twice, and told us he enjoyed playing Minecraft on our existing GO Karts during his treatment.

These GO Karts represent the very first units we’ve dedicated to a hospital of our October construction batch. We couldn’t be prouder to have worked with the Junior Ambassadors of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to see this initial group of GO Karts deployed.

For the kids, by the kids! Hats off to the Junior Ambassadors for making the first delivery of our newest GO Karts a reality for patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles!

Many more to come.

GO Kart Race Crew – Volunteers Needed!

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Fellow gamers! As many of you are aware, we’re delivering our latest batch of GO Karts to hospitals across the country.

2018 is going to be a busy year for Gamers Outreach as we work towards escalating our list of supported facilities to nearly 200 locations across the U.S. and Canada! Obviously this is great news! More patients and families will have easy access to entertainment inside hospitals than ever before! However, to accomplish this, we need your help!

We’re looking for volunteers throughout the U.S. & Canada who can assist with regional GO Kart deliveries! If you’ve ever wanted to get involved with Gamers Outreach programs, this is a perfect chance to support work that could be taking place right in your hometown hospital.

Volunteers will be part of our newly formed outreach team, the “GO Kart Race Crew”. As a Race Crew member, you’ll be volunteering to ensure GO Karts are fully operational once they’ve been shipped to hospitals.

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Here’s an overview of how that works:

  • A GO Kart is manufactured and shipped from our warehouse to its new home at a hospital.
  • The GO Kart will mostly be assembled when it arrives to the hospital. However, a monitor, gaming console, and controllers will need to be added to the unit.
  • A Race Crew member (that’s you!) will arrive to the hospital with a group of other volunteers on a specified date. Together, the Race Crew volunteers will assemble the GO Kart, and ensure it’s ready for use within the hospital. This process will takes approximately 1 hour per kart.
  • Once the GO Kart is ready for action, volunteers will take a photo of / with the GO Kart. The photo will be uploaded to the Gamers Outreach impact map for tracking. A Gamers Outreach staff member will communicate with the Race Crew volunteers to ensure the GO Kart has been properly assembled.

That’s the gist of it! Race Crew volunteers will be responsible for overseeing GO Kart deliveries, and assisting with upkeep as time goes by. Volunteer opportunities will be first-come, first-serve, and will largely be based on regional availability of volunteers.

If this is an opportunity that interests you, we invite you to fill out our volunteer application on the Gamers Outreach website! Filling out an application is by no means a firm commitment. It just lets us know that you’re interested so we can reach out with additional information. We’ll reach out to you directly when an opportunity arises!

You can submit a volunteer application by visiting this link.

Hope to see you in the pits throughout 2018!

Save The Date: Gamers for Giving 2018

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Exciting news, fellow gamers! Our next annual Gamers for Giving event will take place on the weekend of April 28th & 29th, 2018!

In case you’re not familiar: Gamers for Giving is a LAN party + streamathon that generates resources for Gamers Outreach programs. Through ticket sales, sponsorship, and online donations, last year’s event raised more than $300,000 in support of providing entertainment devices to children’s hospitals around the nation (which we are now deploying)!

Gamers for Giving will once again take place within the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center, a venue which hosts a wide array of events including concerts, trade-shows, and banquets. Tickets will go on sale in the month of January (date TBA).

We’ll release more information regarding the 2018 event over the coming months – including our fundraising goals, streaming schedule, and list of activities. As usual, you can expect a full weekend of competitive tournaments and casual LAN camaraderie.

You can stay in sync with the latest news related to Gamers for Giving 2018 by following the Gamers for Giving blog, or following Gamers Outreach on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to use the official hashtag #GFG2018 on Twitter!

2018 is going to be a massive year for Gamers Outreach. As of this blog post, we’re in the process of scaling our programs from ~30 facilities to nearly 200 across the U.S., Canada, and even a couple hospitals overseas! We can’t wait to share our progress with you at Gamers for Giving. We’re looking forward to another year of gaming competitions and streams in support of hospitalized patients!

Hope to see you at the EMU Convocation Center on April 28th & 29th, 2018!

Gamers Outreach & AbleGamers Team Up For Kids With Disabilities

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Today, we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with our friends at AbleGamers, a charity organization that provides equipment to children and adults with disabilities who need help accessing video games.

We’ll be partnering with AbleGamers to outfit select GO Karts with their “Expansion Packs” – an assortment of specialized controllers and devices which help make games more accessible to hospital patients with limited mobility. The official press release with all the details can be found below!

It also helps that our organization colors are fairly similar. #TeamOrange

Gamers Outreach and AbleGamers Team Up for Kids with Disabilities
Charity orgs unite to promote gaming accessibility for hospitalized children.

Los Angeles – October 17th, 2017 – Gamers Outreach and AbleGamers are thrilled to announce a new partnership to bring fun to children and adults with disabilities in the hospital setting. AbleGamers is a charity organization that grants custom-made, 3-D printed and specialized equipment to people with disabilities who need help accessing video games. Gamers Outreach is an organization that provides a gaming kiosks (GO Karts) to enable videogames to be brought to anyone anywhere in the hospital. The two charities are partnering to expand accessible gaming opportunities within pediatric environments by equipping select GO Karts with Expansion Packs.

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Expansion Packs by AbleGamers are customized packages of equipment provided to healthcare professionals which contain an assortment of assistive technology such as modified controllers and custom devices used to enable people with disabilities to play video games. AbleGamers also provides accessibility experts to install and maintain these Expansion Packs throughout the life of the project. First launched in early 2016, Expansion Packs have been donated to facilities with multiple special needs patients as a way to ensure gaming experiences are widely accessible.

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GO Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts) are portable video game kiosks constructed specifically for the hospital environment. Each unit is equipped with a gaming console, games, monitor, controllers, and occasionally VR devices. GO Karts are secure mobile entertainment units which allow hospital staff to easily provide children with access to recreation at the bedside environment or during long-term treatment.

Gamers Outreach plans to offer AbleGamers’ Expansion Packs as accessories to GO Karts, with the hope of expanding the variety of materials available to hospital staff who support patients with limited mobility. The partnership will kick off with a joint donation being made to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“In the hospital environment, we support a wide array of patients, including children who have limited mobility,” said Zach Wigal, Founder of Gamers Outreach. “There’s an obvious synergy between our programs and the work of AbleGamers. The Expansion Packs equipped to our GO Karts will provide healthcare professionals with a diverse entertainment toolkit. Ultimately, we believe these devices will help ensure the joy of gaming is experienced by all patients, regardless of their circumstances.”

“The work we do to support people with disabilities is bigger than us.” said Steven Spohn, AbleGamers COO. “There are 33 million children, adults and veterans with disabilities in America alone. Gamers Outreach has been a friend and ally since the creation of both organizations. It’s a natural fit, now that we both have generous supporters who believe in helping those in need, to come together and help even more people. Together, we will ensure that children inside the hospital and at home can enjoy a distraction from the sometimes scary hospital environment.”

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The partnership will be celebrated October 20th – 22nd at TwitchCon 2017 through a joint exhibition between the two organizations. Streamers and gaming fans attending TwitchCon will have the chance to learn more about each group’s work and contribute to the cause.

More information about the two charities can be found at www.GamersOutreach.org and www.AbleGamers.org.

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About AbleGamers

The AbleGamers Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity that wields the power of video games to break down the barriers of economic and social isolation for people with disabilities. Through received support and donations, AbleGamers provides disabled gamers with assistive technologies (including their Expansion Pack program) that allow those with limited real-world mobility to experience what it is like to walk, run, climb, drive and even fly – in a virtual world.

About Gamers Outreach

Gamers Outreach is a 501(c)(3) charity organization that provides recreation to children in hospitals through the power of video games and the gaming community. Hospitalization can often be a lonely, isolating, and scary experience for young people. Gamers Outreach eases those burdens by providing equipment, technology, and software that help kids cope with long-term treatment.

Microsoft Giving Campaign

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Each year, Microsoft employees participate in fundraising and volunteer activities which support a diverse number of charities. In 2016 alone, more than $142 million was contributed to nonprofits and schools across the globe.

Through the “Giving Campaign,” Microsoft matches employee donations to nonprofits dollar-for-dollar, up to $15K. The Giving Campaign takes place throughout the year, with a special push every October.

This year, we’re proud to announce Gamers Outreach will be visiting Microsoft as a “featured charity” among the many causes Microsoft employees contribute towards. We’ll be hanging out on Microsoft’s Redmond campus on October 9th, 11th, and 19th to raise funds / awareness for Gamers Outreach programs and our anticipated expansion.

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If you’re an employee at Microsoft, we hope to see you throughout the month of October, and look forward to sharing the progress being made in pediatric hospitals nationwide. You can support our efforts and unlock a matching contribution from Microsoft through the Benevity charity portal by searching for “Gamers Outreach Foundation.”

For any of you that may have available hardware or software, we are currently seeking in-kind contributions for controllers, consoles, and games! Anything you can spare would be truly appreciated.

Hope to see you on campus!