The registered student organization UIndy Gamers hosted a charity event to benefit Extra Life on Saturday, Feb. 20. In the Schwitzer Student Center, UIndy halls there was a plethora of games ranging from Nintendo 64 “Mario Kart” to Arcade Cabinets, classic board games and “Magic: The Gathering.” Participants were asked to donate to play games and have pizza. Vice President of UIndy Gamers and junior nursing major Levi Ward explained what the event was trying to accomplish.
“We are working with Extra Life, which is a non-for-profit charity that works really closely with Riley Hospital,” Ward said. “You play games all night, you eat food, you hang out with friends, and you pledge money for this charity.”
Ward said UIndy Gamers first got the idea to work with Extra Life a few months back when a board member pitched the idea. Once the group solidified their plan, they contacted Extra Life, which helped them find things like video game arcade cabinets.
“It just kind of got rolling from there,” Ward said. “We got numerous different game centers around town like Game Preserve and Game Paradise to donate a game for raffle prizes. If you go to places and say, ‘We are doing a charity event,’ then they will be more than happy to give you stuff [for the event].”
Kevin Trehan is president of the Indianapolis Guild for Extra Life. He offered some additional insight into Extra Life and what it does.
“Extra Life started roughly seven or eight years ago,” Trehan said. “There was a family who had a daughter who was suffering from leukemia. So in order to raise money to help pay for her hospital fees and other things like that, they [Extra Life] got together and started doing a gaming marathon. People come in and play some games for 24 hours. Unfortunately, she did pass away, but they keep that legacy going on. It grew from starting out with a small family and it is now a worldwide event.”
Aside from the annual large event, Trehan said that Extra Life Indianapolis tries to have events similar to the one UIndy Gamers hosts at least once a month, if not several times a month. They also go to conventions such as Indiana Comic Con, Gen Con, Indy Popcon and others, to raise awareness for the charity.
“We try to go to a lot of the smaller ones [events]. Right now, we have people working at Anime Crossroads,” Trehan said. “We also have [a] partnership with the Microsoft store up in the Fashion Mall in Keystone. On Super Bowl day, they [the Microsoft store] were hosting Madden tournaments at their store, so we went up there and hung out with them. We try to go to big events, small events, as many as I can go to.”
Trehan said in the end, the goal for an event such as the University of Indianapolis’ was more exposure for Extra Life.
“The biggest goal really, is just spreading the word,” Trehan said. “We don’t really ask for donations but we always welcome them. Our biggest thing is getting other people to know about Extra Life and sign up for it, because the important thing is expanding the outreach. That in itself brings in the donations for the hospitals.”
Ward said in the future, UIndy Gamers wants to try to make their event even bigger.
“I would love to see this happen again on a bigger scale,” Ward said. “I’d love to see more arcade cabinets, more things to do in there. Hopefully this event will grow and kind of be one of those huge events that people look forward to.”
The group raised more than $200 for Extra Life and Riley in its inaugural event. Anyone interested in the Extra Life charity can go to extra-life.org for more information or to sign up.