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Blog: Program News


Program Happenings in the era of COVID

Video games in hospital.

It’s currently mid-May 2020, and like many organizations, we’ve been navigating the news around COVID on a weekly basis.

Gamers Outreach is focused on making video games available and easy to manage in hospitals. Our goal is to help build a world where play is seamlessly prioritized alongside research and treatment.

Given our support of healthcare workers and presence in pediatric facilities, we’d like to provide an update on what’s happening in the world of Gamers Outreach programs. Thankfully, many of the pediatric hospitals we’ve interacted with these last couple months aren’t seeing children hospitalized due to COVID. However, physical distancing measures are in place everywhere – and most hospitals we’ve spoken with are isolating all patients to their rooms. This also means visitors and volunteers are strictly limited, if allowed at all.

On that note, let’s talk first about Player 2.

Gamers Outreach volunteers visit Omaha Nebraska hospital with Jake Diekman

For those not familiar: Player 2 is a program where gamers become hospital volunteers. While volunteering, gamers help solve minor tech support problems, distribute equipment, and play games with patients. Opportunities to volunteer through this initiative are limited by region. Eligibility is mostly determined by a hospital’s capacity to onboard and manage new volunteers.

Currently, Player 2 volunteers are being encouraged to assist hospital staff through remote communication (video / phone calls, email, etc). Given the general concern around COVID transmission, we don’t anticipate volunteers physically re-entering the hospital environment through 2020. We’ll continue to seek guidance from hospital staff on best protocol for volunteers and general visitors. Everyone’s safety and well-being is our #1 priority.

If you are a hospital interested in receiving remote support for your tech devices, you can sign up to become a Player 2 facility on our website here. If you’re a gamer interested in providing support to hospitals, you can also apply to volunteer on the same web page here.

Let’s shift gears and talk about Project GO Kart.

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GO Karts have been in higher demand than ever. In the last few weeks, we’ve received more requests from hospitals seeking devices than any other period in our history. Our ability to support these facilities is largely driven by donors. In instances where we’re not able to immediately accommodate requests, hospitals are added to our waiting list. As donors step forward or fundraisers are completed, these hospitals are prioritized.

Our GO Karts are built and assembled in Texas. The facility where we construct GO Karts has been deemed essential, and there are a number of measures in place to ensure a healthy environment for our team members there.

We’re currently working on final assembly for our latest batch of units, which includes GO Karts funded by Gamers for Giving streamers and an array of other donors. Shipments from this batch will start being released in early June, and we’ll have inventory on-hand to support subsequent donors / requests in the months following. We’re also maintaining inventory to accommodate our normal volume of requests from donors and hospitals in the interim.

Gamers Outreach portable video game kiosks for hospitals

If you’re a hospital interested in receiving a donated unit, or if you’d like to purchase a GO Kart, you can do so from our Project GO Kart web page, located here. If you’re an individual who would like to gift a unit to a hospital, you can do so through the Donate form located here. If you’d like to rally your community to fundraise for a hospital in your area, you can start an online campaign here.

The commitment to build a GO Kart is $3,500 per unit. This includes the kiosk itself, the gaming console, monitor, controllers, and an assortment of games digitally installed. It also includes freight shipping anywhere in the country, setup assistance, and ongoing support through the years if a hospital needs help!

Of course, general donations can be made on our website at any time here. Contributions are used to help sustain existing program activity AND expand our impact. $10 can help us ship small care packages to hospitals. $30 can help buy a new controller. $60 can help buy a new game. $100 can help provide an Xbox Adaptive Controller. $300 can provide a new console. And as mentioned above, $3,500 is enough to build, deliver, and maintain a GO Kart for multiple years. In our last annual report, 80% of our expenses were program related.

A young gamer at Children's Hospital Colorado enjoys some competition on a GO Kart.

With limitation on visitors and restrictions on patient activity, the purpose of our work is more apparent than ever. Staff are looking for ways to help kids stay active, and gaming has a big role to play. We’re proud to be a part of enriching the lives of children and their families during their time in hospitals. A big thanks goes out to our community of supporters for making all this possible. You’re making a difference each day, and we’re grateful for your involvement.

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!

FaZe Cizzorz visits UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital

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Back in January, Cizzorz of FaZe Clan (known recently for his Fortnite “Death Runs”) powered up his Twitch stream to announce he’d be hosting a charity marathon in support of Gamers Outreach programs. His goal? Build as many GO Karts for UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital as possible.

After a 12+ hour broadcast, Cizzorz and his community not only created a new Fortnite run, but generated $18,251 for Gamers Outreach! That amount was enough to build 5 GO Karts, capable of supporting 11,000 children per year!

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Just a few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to visit UCLA Mattel where Cizzorz had the chance to see his fundraising efforts come to fruition. A group of kids waited eagerly in the hospital’s teen center – ready to game – aware they were being visited by a special guest. With a smile from ear to ear, Cizzorz walked through the door and not only saw his community’s GO Karts, but shared in the joy of gaming with children at the hospital.

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The portability of GO Karts allow them to go from room to room – a huge perk for patients who are stuck during long term treatment. Cizzorz was able to meet with a young man named Jack, who’s currently going through such an experience, and also happens to be really good at Rocket League.

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Kelli Carroll, a Child Life program director at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital tells us “this is why gaming is really important for our patients – it provides distraction, a creative outlet and social interaction (be it online or in person) for kids who are unable to physically be present in our play spaces”.

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Our team is incredibly grateful to do this work, and it’s wonderful to be able to bring content creators like Cizzorz into the hospital environment to spread the sense of community games are capable of facilitating.

Big thanks to the team at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital for helping to host this visit, and of course, to Cizzorz and his community for the epic GO Kart delivery! GG WP.

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Leveling Up Metro Detroit

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Exciting news to share, Gamers Outreach supporters! Hospitals throughout our home state are getting a video game upgrade thanks to sponsorship from Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers!

During the month of February, we’ll be rolling out 17 GO Karts to healthcare facilities in southeast Michigan! If an average of 6 – 8 children benefit from each unit per day, it’s possible this fleet of GO Karts could impact as many as 40,000 kids per year!!

As of this blog post, the first 8 units have already been delivered to hospitals throughout the Beaumont Health Network. We had the opportunity to celebrate alongside staff and children at the Royal Oak location just last week.

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At the celebration, we listened to doctors and staff discuss the importance of recreation during a patient’s stay at the hospital. Video games are an incredible tool for healthcare professionals. As we’ve seen firsthand, they’re a source of entertainment, socialization, and distraction. These 17 GO Karts will be of immense benefit for children throughout southeast Michigan for years to come.

Of course, we had to take the GO Karts for a test run. It was a blast playing games with patients and child life specialists throughout the day.

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We’re so grateful to the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers for helping us expand Gamers Outreach programs throughout the state of Michigan. The full press release with details on this incredible sponsorship can be found below.

Thank you Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers!!

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Saline Mich., January 28, 2019 – Gamers Outreach — a nonprofit organization that provides video game equipment, technology and software to help kids cope during hospital stays — and the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Association (MDCDA) have joined forces to provide recreation and healing therapy to pediatric patients using the power of video games. Through a unique sponsorship from the MDCDA, a total of 17 GO Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts) will be delivered to children’s hospitals throughout the Metro Detroit area during the month of February. The first drop off occurs at the Children’s Miracle Network Garden of Beaumont Royal Oak with a special ribbon-cutting on Wednesday, January 30th at 1:00pm.

GO Karts are portable video game kiosks built specifically for the hospital environment. Each unit is equipped with a video game console, monitor, controllers and an assortment of games. The kiosks assist hospital staff in providing patients with access to entertainment and are especially beneficial for children who are unable to leave their rooms during extended treatment. It’s estimated that between six to eight children benefit from a single unit each day.

According to Zach Wigal, Founder of Gamers Outreach, the delivery of 17 GO Karts from the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Association represents one of the largest to date and could collectively impact more than 40,000 kids and their families annually.

“We’re so grateful to work with the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers in support of hospitalized patients and healthcare facilities throughout southeastern Michigan,” Wigal said. “Our organization is focused on improving a patient’s quality of life during treatment, and we believe having access to entertainment and recreation aids the recovery process. This generous sponsorship will allow Gamers Outreach to provide GO Karts to hospitals throughout the Metro Detroit region, bringing joy to thousands of patients for years to come!”

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“Video gaming takes on a new purpose when it helps children cope with extended hospital visits and treatments,” said John Fox, President of MDCDA. “The Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Association is thrilled to provide ongoing support through our sponsorship of Gamers Outreach and its mission. As we continue our work to put a GO Kart gaming unit in as many hospitals throughout Metro Detroit as we can, we know kids will appreciate that they can forget about their clinical surroundings for a bit and focus on the fun.”

Gamers Outreach exists to address the special need for age-appropriate entertainment within children’s hospitals. Founded in Saline, Michigan, the organization supports nearly 200 hospitals across the United States.

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 through equipment, technology, and software that help kids cope with long-term treatment. More information can be found at www.GamersOutreach.org. 

About Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers (MDCD)

The Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Local Marketing Association (LMA) is comprised of 38 Chevrolet dealerships in Southeastern Michigan. It is the MDCD mission to take an active role in local communities and to support the Metro Detroit area by featuring local events, venues, bands, charities and people in its marketing and community outreach campaigns. For a complete listing of the 38 Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers and other information please visit chevydetroit.com.

Interview with Fwiz: Life’s Boss Battles

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Over the last decade, we’ve had the honor to provide hospitalized children with sources of relief and entertainment through technology and the medium of video games.

In the course of our work, we’ve discovered games are a form of recreation that often empower patients to re-engage in play when they otherwise have limited mobility, or are unable to access activities away from their bedside. In certain instances, they’re even a tool used in therapy.

Some of our team members can speak to the value of games in hospitals from firsthand experience.

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Back in 2014, Ryan “Fwiz” Wyatt joined the board of Gamers Outreach. While Ryan is known to the video game community for his work in esports and on the YouTube gaming team, his career trajectory could’ve easily been derailed by circumstances surrounding his health.

As a child, Ryan was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – a type of inflammatory auto immune disease which affects a patient’s digestive tract. There is no cure for the disease, and patients who experience severe symptoms sometimes undergo multiple surgeries to lessen its complications. Ryan was one such patient.

In this interview, Ryan shares his perspective as a “frequent flyer” in the hospital, the role games have had on his career, how games made a difference during his stay, and why he’s made giving back a personal obligation.

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Thanks for making time to share your story, Ryan. For those who aren’t familiar, mind giving us an introduction? Who are you and what do you do?

Sure thing. My name is Ryan Wyatt and I run the global business for gaming and VR/AR at YouTube. My day-to-day job consists of working with game publishers, creators, and partners to find success and execute on bringing incredible content to YouTube.

That’s quite the day job! Let’s go back to your roots. Where did you grow up?

I was born and grew up in the Midwest, around the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. I was a big fan of Cleveland sports growing up. I went to college at The Ohio State University, and moved to Los Angeles about 8 years ago for my work in the video game industry.

What are your earliest memories of video games? When did you first become a gamer? When did you know you wanted a career in the video game industry?

I started gaming at the age of 3 after my mom bought an NES for my two siblings and I. My earliest memories of gaming were of my brother, sister, and I surrounding a giant tube TV, playing Mario Brothers 3. I fell in love with gaming. It was a more immersive experience as opposed to watching television. I’m now 31 years old and at no point in my life have I stopped playing video games.

I never thought about the legitimacy of working in the video game industry until my final years of college when I met Hector Rodriguez through the Major League Gaming (MLG) Call of Duty scene and started to learn about the world of esports.

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I found out there was opportunity to volunteer for the website and administer matches. I spent 10 to 20 hours a week overseeing tournaments for free while I was in college. I progressed as a volunteer and eventually got promoted to a paid role as head of online tournaments. The stakes were a bit higher because people were paying money to enter those tournaments. I remember looking at a game called Halo and realizing how big that game was for competitive players. There were full-time professional gamers competing in those tournaments, but Call of Duty wasn’t getting the same support. That seemed odd to me because Call of Duty was a bigger game from a sales perspective. Me and another player named Hastr0 decided to commentate these tournaments. We felt we could bring more attention to these events if they were streamed.

MLG was supportive, despite our broadcasts being incredibly humble. I would commentate from my bedroom dressed in nice clothes with a red drape behind me so people didn’t know where I was. It was “low budget” for sure, but I wanted to make something out of it.

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Hector really introduced me to the world of YouTube, and how people could make careers out of creating content and uploading it to the site. That’s when I started to realize if I stuck with gaming, I might be able to make it into a career.

That passion is something all of us gamers can relate to. It seems many who work in the industry have their own version of your “I made a way” story. You were at the front lines of the growth we’re seeing in esports now!

Let’s switch gears and talk about another experience you had as a child. Tell us about your time in the hospital. We know you were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – but for our readers, can you explain what that is and how it impacted you?

In simple terms, Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel disease and impacts the lining of your digestive tract. It’s categorized as an auto immune disease because your own body attacks itself. For me, Crohn’s affected my small intestine.  It can cause a lot of symptoms, but the key characteristic is that it brings on inflammation – which causes issues with stomach pains, and can make you sensitive to a variety of foods. There are thousands of people affected, and unfortunately there’s still not a good understanding of how it develops. A lot of the symptoms that occur are mainly abdominal pains.

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How did learning you have Crohn’s affect you as a child?

I was diagnosed at 10 and had my first surgery at 14. It was a weird thing to get diagnosed with. It’s not well explained or articulated, and I had it bad. I was really underweight. I didn’t eat much. I was in pain all the time. I didn’t have nearly the energy other 10 year olds had. It was scary going to school, having to go to the bathroom, and not being able to participate in other activities kids could. During my very first surgery, they removed 12 inches of my small intestine.

After the surgery, I looked at my circumstances as a chance to not be sad for myself. This was my challenge. I think having Crohn’s has made me a better person. On the outside, any of us could look like we don’t have anything wrong. It reminds me of that quote, “everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Dealing with Crohn’s really made me take that to heart.

What does the treatment process for Crohn’s look like? How long were you in / out of the hospital?

I was in the hospital for 4.5 weeks during my first surgery, and it was miserable. It was a whole ordeal, and I had to make a lot of trips back to the hospital post-surgery for medications. I still have a 6 inch scar on my stomach from the procedure.

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During your time at the hospital, what role did video games have in your recovery?

I was treated at Cleveland Clinic, and during that time, they had a super Nintendo cart they’d push around to each room.  Kids would play for 30 minutes each. The cart had NBA jam, which was my favorite game. I remember thinking it was so cool – I would plan my whole day around waiting to get that cart. Aside from that, myself and the other kids had nothing. I was bored out of my mind. We didn’t have laptops or phones, and it felt so amazing to just get 30 minutes every day with that Nintendo cart. It really made an impact, and I can remember to this day my doctor playing games with me every time he came in. I always really appreciated it.

Why do you feel it’s important for you to be involved with Gamers Outreach, or charity in general? What does being involved in a cause like Gamers Outreach mean to you?

I believe life is largely based on “paying it forward.” I feel an incredible sense of duty and obligation to try and help others. As a child, there were people who took care of me and went out of their way to ensure I was OK. I think when we become older and self-capable, it becomes our turn to play that role.

Getting involved with Gamers Outreach was a no brainer for me. As soon as I heard there was a company that was building gaming carts to put in pediatric hospitals – something that had been profoundly impactful in my own life – I wanted to get involved. Gamers Outreach felt like the cause for me. It’s been a very natural fit for me to be readily available to help.

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For any young gamers who may be facing similar circumstances: do you have any words of wisdom to share that may be of guidance during treatment?

There are a lot of challenges life throws our way, some more visible than others. Do everything you can to learn from those trials, and figure out ways you can help others or channel what may seem negative into something positive.

When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s, I thought of it negatively. I was being treated differently than others, I couldn’t participate in activities the same way, and life seemed unfair. But I came to realize my experience with Crohn’s made me appreciate life more. As a kid it’s hard to have that foresight – but if you believe everything happens for a reason, you can channel your struggles into positive actions. If I had the opportunity to change the past, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. It’s been a blessing in my life, and I think it’s allowed for great things to happen. I’d be a different person had I not had the opportunity to learn from my challenges.

Powerful words. Thanks for making time, Ryan! We appreciate it!

Seeking Volunteers: Player 2

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Ever wanted to get involved with Gamers Outreach programs and help make life better for kids going through hospitalization? Now’s your chance!

We’re rallying our fellow gamers to join us as “Player 2” volunteers in a select number of hospitals around the country, including…

  • C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
  • Children’s Hospital of Michigan (Detroit, Michigan)
  • Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)
  • Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital (Chicago, Illinois)
  • St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • Texas Children’s (Houston, TX)
  • Doernbecher Children’s (Portland, OR)
  • Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children (Huntsville, Alabama)
  • Blank Children’s Hospital (Des Moines, IA)
  • Seattle Children’s (Seattle, WA)

Since announcing the initiative in 2015, we’ve been slowly rolling out the program to a handful of hospitals – collecting feedback from volunteers, patients, and healthcare staff along the way.

Not familiar with the program? No sweat! We’ve not yet created a dedicated page on our website aside from blog posts, so here’s a quick summary:

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Player 2 is an initiative that pairs video game enthusiasts with volunteer positions at hospitals. 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 a 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 ~3 hours per week to visiting with patients over the course of 4 – 6 months. 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. Weekday availability is also a plus.

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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 (e.g. 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. While applications can be submitted at any time, some of the hospitals we work with have specific seasonal volunteer windows. The sooner you apply, the sooner we’ll be able to get you connected with a hospital!
  • Step 2: After submitting an application, you’ll receive an automated response confirming we’ve received your form. A representative from Gamers Outreach will reach out within 5 – 10 business days to inform you of opportunities in your area. In the event we receive too many applications, or your application doesn’t fit within a hospital’s current needs, we’ll invite you to apply again at a future time and keep you informed of other opportunities.
  • Step 3: Hospitals generally host volunteer information sessions 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. Should a Player 2 opportunity be available, a team member from Gamers Outreach will provide you with information on attending one of these learning sessions.
  • Step 4: After you’ve learned about life in the hospital, a representative from Gamers Outreach will follow-up to confirm whether or not becoming a Player 2 Volunteer is still of interest, and discuss next steps for onboarding!

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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!

Pineaqples Delivers GO Karts

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Pro H1Z1 player “Pineaqples” knows what it’s like to spend time in the hospital.

Through his Twitch channel, he led a fundraising effort with his community to place two GO Karts inside Children’s Hospital of Nevada.

Our friends from Twin Galaxies created this heartwarming video sharing his story, and documenting the delivery of his GO Karts. It’s always wonderful to see the gaming community rally together in support of hospitalized patients and their families.

We’ll let Pineaqples take it from here!

 

Summit1g Delivers to Children’s Colorado

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During last year’s Gamers for Giving, Twitch streamer summit1g helped raise more than $50,000 in support of providing entertainment to hospitalized children. To date, it’s the most a single broadcaster has generated for our cause, and even more astonishing to know it was all accomplished in a single day of streaming!

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As many of our readers are aware, our preference is to give donors the opportunity to support hospitals in their own backyard. Coincidentally, it just so happens Children’s Hospital Colorado (local to summit1g) oversees one of the largest networks of pediatric facilities in the nation. A serendipitous match for a fleet of GO Karts.

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Our team was thrilled to exercise the resources generated by summit1g and his viewers. Thanks to the contributions from his community, we were able to construct 15 GO Karts for patients at Children’s Hospital Colorado. We estimate ~8 kids per day benefit from a single GO Kart. It’s possible this donation could impact as many as 44,000 patients annually!

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It was our honor to have summit1g join us for a special dedication at the hospital, where we had the chance to learn how video games make a difference in the lives of patients. The hospital was thrilled to accept this contribution, and intends to spread these GO Karts across multiple facilities where they’ll be of use to patients for years to come.

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The deployment of these units marks a new record for “most GO Karts delivered” at a single time, and given the size of Children’s Hospital Colorado – they have use for every one.

Our deepest thanks go out to summit1g and his community of viewers. His involvement with our cause has inspired our team. We’re so grateful to him and his supporters for making a positive impact in the lives of children facing hospitalization. These GO Karts will be of tremendous benefit to kids receiving treatment. We’re proud knowing the gaming community is capable of rallying together in such a powerful way. Thank you to everyone who donated or helped spread the word. GG WP!

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Founder of Charity-Gaming Talks Benefits of Video Games in Hospital

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Jim Weller (second from the right) is the Assistant Director of Patient Experience at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH), and we recently had the chance to sit down and discuss the benefits of video games for children in hospitals.

Jim has worked in hospitals his entire life, and is the founder of Charity-Gaming – a nonprofit organization that help kids stricken with illness feel like normal kids by providing an escape through video games. Charity-Gaming provides handheld gaming systems to patients to make their hospital stay more comfortable. Bonus feature: the patients actually keep the systems!

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Our partnership started when Jim was looking for a video game cart to purchase for SIUH. His research led him to Gamers Outreach – and after a bit of fundraising, Jim managed to construct two GO Karts for patients at the hospital! Most recently, Jim’s organization placed three more GO Karts within nearby facilities in New York, bringing his total number of GO Karts constructed to 5 units.

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Another strong motivator for Jim was his own experience seeing his father treated at the hospital. Jim’s goal is to ensure every patient at every hospital has access to video games. There are many benefits to having video games accessible at the bedside, including building math skills and inspiring creativity with games like Minecraft. Video games are powerful developmental tools for kids to build critical thinking and, we believe as does Jim, that the full potential of this has not been tapped. With the help of video games, Jim notes an upswing in not only patient happiness, but hospital staff happiness as well as the parents of the patients.

We look forward to working together with Jim on our combined quest to provide access to video games to every child being treated at a hospital.

Four Ways To Build Your Own GO Kart

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With the new production process complete, it’s now cheaper and more accessible than ever to build a Gamers Outreach Kart (GO Kart)!

Not familiar? GO Karts are portable video game kiosks built specifically for the medical environment. Each unit is equipped with a gaming console, monitor, and assortment of games. GO Karts enable nurses to easily provide bedside activities to children in hospitals who are unable to leave their rooms for extended periods of time. Each kart offers a safe and efficient way to ensure kids have access to entertainment.

Once constructed, GO Karts make an impact that lasts for many years. Our first GO Kart was built in 2009 and still exists in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital! We estimate a GO Kart is used (on average) by ~8 children per day, which means a single unit could benefit nearly 3,000 patients per year!

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The donor commitment for each GO Kart is $3,500 – which covers everything – the kart itself, gaming console, games, monitor, controllers, freight shipping (to any hospital in the mainland U.S.) setup, and a 2 year warranty!

Interested in building a GO Kart for your local hospital? Here are four ways you can get started:

Fundraising Platform
Looking for a way to collect donations from friends, coworkers, or fans on social media? Make use of the of the Gamers Outreach Fundraising platform! Each fundraising page can be uniquely tailored to your story. Customize your page by inserting your own fundraising video or stream (or use the default we provide). You can also add a description to your page, sharing why this cause is important to you, and asking friends for support. The goal for a GO Kart is set at $3,500, but you can also edit this amount to a custom goal (perhaps if you’d like to build multiple karts, or just generally fundraise). If you’re interested in building a GO Kart and raising funds on an on-going basis, our fundraising platform is the most streamlined way to get the job done! Once you’ve completed your GO Kart campaign, you’ll receive a congratulatory email, and one of our team members will get in touch to start the conversation about your new GO Kart donation!

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Organize a Community Event
Start your own gaming event, go door to door, throw a charity soccer tournament at school, the possibilities are endless! The old school methods are tried and true. You can’t go wrong putting in some good ol’ fashioned elbow grease, and the more accessible you make your event, the easier it will be to start the groundswell of support. Sporting tournaments are a great idea – especially if you’re in middle school or high school and have access to plenty of people and simple marketing. Pick the most popular sport at your school and downsize the roster requirement to allow more teams to participate. If you want to have a football tournament, make it a 5v5 flag football tournament; if you want to have a soccer or basketball tournament, make it 3v3; or any other sport! Or maybe your school has a gaming club (if not, you should be the one to get it started!) that would have interest in helping to organize a fundraiser. The big takeaway here is this: activities help bring people together and can be a great way to raise money. You just have to pick one and get started! Contact some local businesses for sponsorship and ask for gift cards or prizes for the winners. To reduce your stress as the tournament organizer, be sure to have people enter by donating on the Gamers Outreach Fundraising platform. You won’t have to worry about collecting money, and your supporters will be able to receive individual tax receipts!

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Summon Your Fellow Gamers
Through the power of streaming sites, like Twitch, you can broadcast your fundraiser to the masses! Hop on the sticks (or mouse and keyboard), and start streaming your favorite game in support of the cause. Take this to the next level by organizing a streaming marathon with your friends. We’ve had marathons last up to a full week, featuring multiple streamers in shifts, but you can play for as long or short as you’d like. Similar to organizing a community event, you can reach out to companies for donations so that your stream will be packed with giveaways and other fun activities for the viewers. Don’t forget to drop that link to your fundraising page in your panels and blast it out all over social media!

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Direct Contribution
Perhaps you’re in a position to directly contribute $3,500. Sponsoring a GO Kart build or purchasing a unit for a hospital is fairly straightforward. Simply email us at contact@gamersoutreach.org letting us know you’d like to acquire a unit. We can provide you with an invoice, or you can make a straight donation on our website. Just be sure to drop us an email so we can know where you’d like your GO Kart sent! We’ll follow up with all the usual questions, and even help organize a visit with the hospital if it’s of interest! We recognize all our donors atop each GO Kart – so sponsoring a unit could be a great charity project for your workplace!

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Got another idea for how to build GO Karts? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Thinking about getting started yourself? In the words of a famous sports company – JUST DO IT! But most importantly, GL HF. We can’t wait to see what you’ll accomplish for kiddos in hospitals!