Real Life Superhero: Extra Life

"You can't necessarily relate to a superhero, to a superman, but you can identify with a real man who, in times of crisis, draws forth some extraordinary quality from within himself and triumphs, but only after a struggle." ~ Timothy Dalton

Last Sunday's post featured a very brief mention of some trying circumstances that the GIR and I have been wading through for much of the past month. Don't worry, it's nothing truly horrendous, just a sequence of increasingly frustrating events, most of which were/are entirely outside our control but will hopefully pass soon.

Whenever you find yourself mired in such a patch of misfortune, it's often very easy to lose yourself in the resulting aggravation, even if just for a little while. It can be particularly powerful in moments like those to pause and consider the situation as part of a larger whole; to stop focusing on all that you can't do and orient yourself towards what you can.

That sounds kind of hokey, but it's ultimately true and taking the above course of action is probably better for your sanity/blood pressure. Doing so doesn't, however, necessarily make it easier to discern exactly what it is that you can do. There are literally thousands of charities, philanthropic organizations, non-profit research bodies, and designated collectors of everything from used cell phones to your blood. Trying to parse through which of these are 'good' (i.e. well-managed so your time/money/other offering isn't lining the pockets of the CEO) and cross-referencing that knowledge with causes that speak to you, as an individual, can be overwhelming.

All of the above, plus some apt timing regarding the subject of today's post, is the fodder for the newest recurring feature on the Care and Feeding of Nerds: Real Life Superhero. As the name suggests, Real Life Superhero posts will provide details on various organizations and activities that provide us geeks with ways to give back to the world around us. The blog has featured similar posts in the past, but this new feature will hopefully take that philanthropic spirit out of crisis-only context and inject it into every day nerdy life. We've talked about how important it is to go beyond just talking and take action when we can. Here's one opportunity to do so.

Your first "official" chance to become a Real Life Superhero comes courtesy of Extra Life, a unique donor drive targeting gamers that benefits the hospitals of Children's Miracle Network. Exactly one month from today geeks from around the world will embark on a 25-hour marathon of gaming to culminate months of fundraising on behalf of over 10 million kids and their families.

Wait, whoa…25 hours straight? Of just gaming? How does that generate money for sick kids?

Gamers participating in the marathon ask friends, family, co-workers, and whoever else will listen to make a donation via their Extra Life online page, then settle in for 25 consecutive hours of gaming goodness.

I still don’t get it. So, are people donating $X per hour gamed or…what?

You can extrapolate your aggregate donations out to appear as a certain rate if you want, but that's entirely up to you. The whole drive is based on the honor system and, at the end, the money you raise is donated as a lump sum. If telling someone their $25 donation is really them sponsoring you at a rate of $1 per hour gamed seems like a sound tactic, then go for it, but it's not required.

Do I really have to game for 25 hours straight?

Again, the drive is totally based on the honor system. Since all the money you raise is sent directly to Children's Miracle Network as a lump sum, it doesn't actually matter how much or how little you game. Still, given that the donations collected were given on the premise of participants gaming for 25 hours, it might be a little disingenuous to not put forth less than your best effort.

Do I have to play video games that whole time?

Nope, board games, RPGs, and miniatures are all perfectly suitable forms of gaming.

What exactly is the Children's Miracle Network?

The Network is a non-profit organization that raises funds for a consortium of hospitals that specialize in treating children. The funds go to both the actual treatment of the young patients of these hospitals and research into illnesses and health issues that impact children. Many of these hospitals accept all incoming child patients, regardless of their family's ability to pay for the necessary treatment. That flexibility comes from donations raised by drives like Extra Life.

Sounds pretty good, but how 'good' are they?

Very good, all things considered. An average of nearly 85% of revenue raised goes to benefit the hospitals, with some local divisions funneling 100% of donations to member facilities. Children's Miracle Network is also formally accredited by the Better Business Bureau, meeting all of the Bureau's 20 criteria for a charity. If you're one to do your own research (kudos if you are), then you'll be happy to know that the Network posts all their financial statements and legal disclosures here.

Is it too late to sign up or start a team?

Definitely not. You've got a whole month to go before it's game o'clock. The sign up process is quick, easy, and can be started here.

Best of luck on your potential fundraising efforts and hope to see some of you in a month!

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