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GO Karts Revving Up This October

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In late July, we dropped one of the biggest announcements in the history of Gamers Outreach. In case you missed it: we’re partnering with an organization called Child’s Play to construct GO Karts for more than 120 healthcare facilities across the U.S. and Canada!

With support from Child’s Play, we’ve also been able to upgrade our manufacturing process. Fellow build-geeks will be excited to hear we’ve updated our tooling from vacuum forming to injection molding. Injection mold tools allow for higher quality finishes on plastic materials, and reduce costs associated with building large numbers of GO Karts.

One of the tools used to construct the base of a GO Kart!

One of the tools used to construct the base of a GO Kart!

To that end, we’re pleased to share we’ve nearly finished the upgraded tools, and as mentioned in the Child’s Play announcement, are currently on track to roll out the latest batch of GO Karts this coming October!

In addition to the GO Karts built on behalf of Child’s Play, we’ll also be deploying units funded by donors / streaming efforts in the last year – including karts supported by events such as Gamers for Giving and the PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS fundraiser! Collectively, more than 200 GO Karts are being constructed for hospitalized children!

This is a massive quantity of units, representing more than twice as many GO Karts as we’ve ever constructed to date! Our current expectation is to fulfill deliveries throughout the months of October 2017 – February 2018.

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Interested in getting involved? We’re looking for volunteers across the U.S. and Canada to help equip GO Karts with gaming peripherals once they arrive to hospitals! Volunteer applications can be submitted here. Once we start scheduling deliveries, we’ll reach out if a unit is expected to be deployed in your area!

As always, we’re incredibly grateful to the gaming community for supporting this work in pediatric hospitals. The need for activities and recreation in these environments is massive, and we’re proud to play a role in bringing joy and relief to hospitalized kiddos across the land.

 

NZXT Donating Portion of Online Sales 8/30-9/5 to Gamers Outreach!

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While it may be true our GO Karts currently house consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, but that doesn’t stop PC-centric companies like NZXT from wanting to help support so many of the children’s hospitals across the country that could benefit from a GO Kart.

For online purchases made from August 30th through September 5th, NZXT has pledged to donate 10% of each sale to us as part of their HUEmanatarian Labor Day Sale! They’ve slashed prices across the board in celebration of the holiday weekend, so if you’re in the market for any cases, cooling, or other PC accessories, you should definitely peruse the wide-selection available on their site.

If you pick anything up, we’d love to see it! Tweet us and NZXT a pic of what you snagged so we can witness your rig in all it’s newfound glory!

Helping Others Level Up at PAX West 2017

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If you’re attending PAX West in Seattle, we’ll be hosting another panel this year at 4:30pm in Sandworm Theater!

For “Helping Others Level Up: How Games Support Health Care”, the topic will be centered around how video games and virtual reality have incredible therapeutic potential within the hospital environment. Those attending will learn how games can be used to support the healing process, in addition to how you yourself can make a difference at your local hospital. A list of those comprising our stellar panel can be found below:

If you’re able to attend the panel and curious to revisit some of the discussion, check out the content roundup we’ve created here: PAX West 2017 Panel Discussion.

Independent of the panel above, Gamers Outreach crew members Zach Wigal and Nikki-Colette Manzie will be on two additional panels: “Play It Forward (Charity and Giving Back in Games” and “How to Broadcast Safely as a Marginalized Streamer,” respectively.

We hope to see you there!

Forbes 30 Under 30: Gamers Outreach Feature

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Earlier this year, Gamers Outreach founder Zach Wigal was recognized by Forbes as part of their 2017 class of “30 Under 30” honorees.

As a team, we’ve been proud to share this honor, and we’re thankful to Forbes for recognizing the work of our volunteers and donors who help us make a difference in the lives of hospitalized children.

Forbes recently dispatched a film crew to interview Zach in Los Angeles, where they had the chance to learn more about the impact Gamers Outreach programs have within hospitals. We’re incredibly proud of how the footage turned out, and feel it does a fantastic job of summarizing how games can help children going through treatment.

The video interview can be found below…

We continue to be grateful to everyone who has been a champion for the kids and families we support on a daily basis! Major thanks go out to the crew from Forbes for highlighting Gamers Outreach!

You can read the full write-up on their site, located here.

PUBG Merch Benefiting Gamers Outreach

Image courtesy of PowerUp Factory

Image courtesy of PowerUp Factory

Ever since Early Access, the demand for PUBG-related merchandise has sky-rocketed alongside the game’s popularity. Recently, the game’s developer Bluehole Inc. has partnered with two online merchandise stores — Design by Humans and Power Up Factory — to provide official PUBG clothing for the community.

If you’re wondering why we’re posting about this (besides the fact the game rules and the PUBG community organized a massive charity invitational this past spring), it’s because Bluehole has decided to donate 50% of the profits from their merchandise sales to two charities – ourselves, and Game Changer – two organizations they believe are doing a wonderful job of helping kids in need of medical treatment and special care.

Shipping is available worldwide, so grab yourself some new threads as summer starts to fade and support two great charities!

Massive thanks to the team from Bluehole for being so generous. Their crew is making a tremendous impact on kids and families going through hospitalization!

Super Smash Con is Upon Us

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Starting August 10 and continuing through the 13th, Super Smash Con will be taking over Chantilly, VA — bringing with it every tournament, panel, and cosplay contest that you’ve ever wanted (+ oh, so much more) related to Nintendo’s greatest fighting franchise – Super Smash Bros! The event is open to all ages.

If you’re interested in donating to Gamers Outreach at any point throughout the weekend, be sure to check out the campaign page! If at least $3,500 is raised, we’ll be able to construct a GO Kart on behalf of the Smash Con community! But truly, any amount helps make a tremendous difference in our quest to provide hospitalized children with access to recreation,

For those who will be at the show – be sure to visit our very own Jared Richter, who will be staffing a Gamers Outreach exhibit. You’ll also catch Jared sharing recent Gamers Outreach stories on a panel alongside the folks from Panda Global. The panel will be taking place on Sunday (8/13) around noon.

Best of luck to everyone competing, and huge thanks to the organizers of Smash Con for including us in their event!

Player 2 Volunteers Wanted at Mott Children’s!

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Edit: This article was updated on August 4th, 2017 to include revised dates for the volunteer information session organized by Mott.

This is a call to action! We’re looking for Michigan-based gamers to volunteer at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital through a program we’ve been testing called Player 2!

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog articles for the last year, you may already be familiar with the program! If not, here’s a quick summary: Player 2 is a new initiative we’re piloting at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. As part of the program, gamers have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they’ve acquired through gaming in a manner that supports patients and staff within healthcare facilities. Responsibilities may include…

  • Distributing games to patients throughout the hospital.
  • Providing minor tech support for issues that arise with equipment (game updates, connectivity troubleshooting, installing software, etc.)
  • Playing games with kids!

As a volunteer, you’ll be required to commit at least 3 hours per week to visiting with patients over the course of two academic semesters. The semesters do not need to be back to back, and scheduling is flexible. All volunteers will ultimately need to pass the hospital’s qualification process, which requires an in-person interview, background check, immunization shots, and general training to interact with patients.

While we’re specifically looking for individuals with extensive gaming knowledge, it’s important to note that responsibilities may also be non-gaming related during your time as a volunteer (i.e. cleaning toys or gaming materials, assisting kids in playrooms, helping children with arts & crafts). Day-to-day tasks vary depending on the needs of patients.

Still with us? Great! Here’s what you need to do to get involved:

  • Step 1: Fill out our volunteer application. All applications must be submitted by or before August 31st (at the absolute latest).
  • Step 2: If you meet our criteria for the program, a representative from Gamers Outreach will get in touch within 1 to 3 business days to let you know you’re eligible for participation! In the event we receive too many applications, or your application doesn’t meet our current expectations, we’ll invite you to apply again at a future time.
  • Step 3: C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital will be hosting an information session to provide you with an idea of what life is like in the hospital. Attending this session is mandatory for all applicants, but does not equate to a hard volunteer commitment. The session will be held at Ford Auditorium on September 7th, from 6:30 – 7:30 PM.
  • Step 4: A Gamers Outreach / C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital representative will follow-up after the information session to confirm whether or not becoming a Player 2 volunteer is still of interest, and if so, discuss next steps for involvement!

For any gamer who wants to give back, Player 2 is a great way to make a difference. Player 2 volunteers help normalize the hospital experience by ensuring kids have access to equipment and socialization during treatment. Player 2 volunteers become a resource for parents, patients, and hospital staff who need help from gamers to ensure kids have access to recreation and activities! It’s a great opportunity for us gamers to apply our skills, and help others level up!

We hope you’ll consider joining us at the hospital!

Benefit for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

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Are you a Gamers Outreach supporter residing in SoCal, or someone making a trip out to the west coast in the next couple weeks? If either of those is a yes – we’ve got an event for you!

On August 17th, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) is hosting a soiree to raise funds in support of the Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases (CCCBD), and Gamers Outreach is sponsoring the event! The CCCBD was ranked the #1 pediatric hematology-oncology program in California and #7 in the nation in 2016. Their work and dedication helps thousands of children both at CHLA and around the world.

This fundraiser is a part of CHLA’s “emerging leaders” program, which brings together business leaders and entrepreneurs from Los Angeles in support of patient treatment.

As friends of the cause, you’re invited to attend! This event is a great opportunity to learn about Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and the role Gamers Outreach programs have at the hospital.

During the evening, you’ll have the chance to interact with some of our crew members, hospital staff, young professionals, and a number of game industry friends from around Los Angeles, all in support of fighting cancer! We’ll also be hearing from a young man named Yssa, known to his family and friends as “Ironman Yssa”. He’s 12 years old and was recently diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. Over the past several months, he’s gone through a couple rounds of chemo and a partial leg amputation. Through it all, he never loses his smile.

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Here’s how to attend! 

Visit the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles fundraising page, located here, and make a donation of $35 or more by clicking the “Donate Now” button. After you make the contribution, a representative from the hospital will contact you via email to provide more details on the event and confirm your attendance.

Date & Time:
Thursday, August 17, 2017
7:00pm

Location:
PRANK | DTLA
http://prankbar.com/
1100 S Hope St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Organized by:
Council Members Dana Falk, Shareena Kumar, Joseph McCullough, Jimmy Tran, Meghan Roberts, Natasha Zaharov 

Featuring:
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Patient Story, Yssa Gutierrez

Star Sponsor:
Zach Wigal, CHLA Emerging Leader | Founder, Gamers Outreach 

Schedule:
7:00pm Check-In & Reception
7:30pm Program

Attire:
Business Casual

Our team is proud to support patients and families at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. If you’re in the area, we’d love for you to join us during this special evening. Should be a great night! Hope to see you there!

Streamer Spotlight: OpTic Flamesword

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Michael Chaves, more affectionately known as Flamesword, has been a main-stay in the professional gaming scene since Halo 2’s heyday and a close friend and supporter of Gamers Outreach for years. We got some time with him recently to find out where he’s been, what he’s been up to, and what’s next.

How long have you been involved in eSports for? How did it all began?

I want to say I’ve been involved since 2005 when Halo 2 was MLG’s main game — the memories just thinking back are incredible. I only started competing in 2008, went pro in 2009, and then finally started competing for the money in 2010 and a lot of good stuff has followed ever since.

Gaming for me started pretty normal: I was part of the launch of Xbox Live which — took gaming to a whole new level — and learned about MLG from running into other online gamers. I continued to work on my craft until I felt I was in top-tier shape to compete with the rest. I created my own team, did my best to lead them, and was able to foster some of the best experiences of my life.

You’re pretty well known for the physique you maintain in a career that depends on you being stationary for long periods of time. When did you first get into fitness, and what makes you love it as much as you do?

My cousin played a huge part in my love for fitness. He was this high school wrestling champ who was just always working out — I always wanted to be in the kind of shape I saw him in.

I started taking it seriously at the age of 22, which is the same time I ran into some stomach problems which actually encouraged me to take my health even more seriously. That ailment forced me to make sure that I wasn’t just in good shape, but to also make sure I was treating my body as well as I could. I think I fell in love with it all because this one body we have is the only thing that stays with us from start to finish in our time here.

When did you first get involved with Gamers Outreach? Can you tell us how it all began + everything you’ve worked on with us leading up to today?

I first learned of Gamers Outreach through fellow competitor and living Halo legend, Walshy. I saw that he was involved and wanted to know what part I could play as I truly respected the organization’s vision and message. Being a gamer myself, I know gaming can be used to help reduce stress for these kids who are confined to their rooms due to certain illnesses, so the concept of the GO Kart was something I wanted to get involved with immediately. I wanted to do whatever I could to spread the word and help build as many Karts as I possibly could.

What’s been your proudest achievement in your career to date, and what’s been the biggest roadblock you’ve had to overcome?

As I get older I see my answer to this question changing more and more often, but I think I finally have it down: I’d have to say my greatest accomplishment was taking a leap of faith and giving gaming my all. Altogether I’ve built years worth of memories and even though I retired from competition, if I could go back and hit “Play” from the beginning I wouldn’t change anything, because every single one of those moments made me into who I am today.

My biggest hurdle was probably the fact that I was constantly comparing myself to everyone because of my competitive nature, but after I learned to let that go, I just started focusing on what I had to get done. Ever since then, everything — and I mean everything in both gaming and life in general — it’s all become so much more simple.

What have you been up to lately? Can you tell us a little more about your work with OpTic?

I don’t game much nowadays! I usually will during a Halo tournament, because watching gives me the itch to get back into it all. I do plan on playing a ton of Destiny 2 (currently waiting for the beta to download as we speak)! Destiny the game itself has opened so many doors for me, it’s only right that I get back on the sticks and hang out with the homies. I honestly can’t wait to check out Trials in D2!

OpTic work is fun — we’re all independent at the house, really. Everyone has their own thing: Obviously I’m the fitness guy but I’m also the one who isn’t afraid to live on the edge; I’ve jumped out of an airplane 20 times on my own, own a motorcycle — anything that gets my heart going, I’m there. I’m currently continuing my health and fitness efforts by putting a lot of time into my second YouTube channel, OpTic Strength.

Besides that, I’ve just got to figure out when I want to grow the OpTic BEARD out again so we can have our infamous 24 Hour Live Stream at the end of the year! With the power of the #GreenWall and the entire gaming community, I’m aiming to crush our donation goal (as usual) and get as many GO Karts built as possible!

 

Want more Flamesword? You can find him on Twitch, keep up with his regular Vlog postings on YouTube, or see what he’s getting into at the OpTic House or on the road by following him on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Gamers Outreach and Child’s Play are teaming up for the kids!

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Fellow gamers, today we have some incredible news to share! Gamers Outreach is partnering with Child’s Play to construct GO Karts for kids in more than 120 healthcare facilities across the U.S. and Canada!

Holy cow, right!? Below is the formal press release with all the details!

Game Industry Charities Unite In Support Of Hospitalized Children
Child’s Play & Gamers Outreach partner to construct “GO Karts” for more than 120 healthcare facilities across U.S. & Canada.

Los Angeles – July 25th, 2017 – Gamers Outreach Foundation (Gamers Outreach) today announced a partnership with Child’s Play Charity (Child’s Play) to build GO Karts for more than 120 healthcare facilities across the U.S. and Canada.

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 healthcare professionals to easily provide children with access to recreation at the bedside environment or during long-term treatment.

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As many as 350,000 children could benefit from the newly constructed GO Karts on an annual basis, which are expected to begin racing forward in October of 2017.

With grant funding provided by Child’s Play, GO Karts will be produced for each hospital in the Child’s Play network across the U.S. and Canada. The partnership marks a substantial period of growth for both organizations, which respectively work to improve the lives of children through toys and games.

“This partnership is a massive win for hospitalized kids and healthcare professionals that support their well-being,” said Zach Wigal, Founder of Gamers Outreach. “Child’s Play has been a champion for pediatric care since 2003, and they’re one of the original pioneers of philanthropic engagement within the gaming community. We’re incredibly excited to be working with their team, and to see the joy of gaming be shared with so many children and families.”

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“Child’s Play is thrilled to be able to work with Gamers Outreach to provide their GO Karts to our partner facilities,” said Kristin Lindsay, Child’s Play Foundation Coordinator. “These kiosks are an ideal solution for children’s hospitals to bring the familiar fun of video games to kids while keeping things simple to use and maintain for Child Life staff. Games are a key factor in normalizing the hospital experience for pediatric patients and Child’s Play is proud to assist that mission.”

To get involved or learn more about the partnership, visit www.GamersOutreach.org and www.ChildsPlayCharity.org.

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About Child’s Play

Founded in 2003, Child’s Play is a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in its network of over 220 facilities worldwide, including hospitals and domestic abuse shelters. Child’s Play works in two ways. With the help of hospital staff, the organization sets up gift wish lists full of video games, toys, books, and other fun stuff for kids. Child’s Play also receives cash donations throughout the year. With those cash donations, the organization purchases new consoles, peripherals, games, and more for hospitals and therapy facilities. Donations allow for children to enjoy age-appropriate entertainment, interact with their peers, friends, and family, and can provide vital distraction from an otherwise generally unpleasant experience.

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.