Gamers for Giving event raises money for charity

$20,000 was raised to purchase video games for children’s hospitals.

Video gamers from all over North America travelled to Ypsilanti, Michigan on Feb. 8 and 9 to attend this year’s Gamers for Giving event. The annual event raised $20,000 to help kick off Gamers Outreach Foundation’s charity programs in 2014.

“The funds will be used to help support the construction of portable video game kiosks, called Gamers Outreach Karts or ‘GO Karts,’ for use in children’s hospitals,” said twenty-three-year-old Saline, Michigan-native Zach Wigal, the creator of this event. “For the kids that are stuck in their hospital room, GO Karts provide them the ability to have fun, reconnect with their friends, and just have something to take their mind off being in the hospital.”

Gamers for Giving is a forty-eight-hour competition that is broadcasted internationally on Twitch.tv, featuring tournaments in hit games such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, Halo 4, Killer Instinct, Starcraft II, League of Legends and a 250-person ‘bring your own computer’ LAN party that hosts multiple casual activities for the less competitive gamers.

“This event is not just about the gaming for us,” said Chris Lash, president and founder of the self-starter gaming group Rollin’ People World Wide.

“Kids are not going to be in the best mood when they are stuck in a hospital bed and this gives them an outlet, something fun to do. It would have been awesome to have one of these GO Karts in the hospital,” said Justin Farmer, leader of the Call of Duty division of RPWW, as he mentioned his own personal connection to why this event means so much to him, “I grew up in and out of the hospital… being able to play Nintendo in the hospital was very important.”

Numerous professional competitive gamers were on hand to assist with the event’s activities, including professional commentator Alex Mendez.

“Kids need to have video games to play in order to experience something positive after surgery or a traumatic event,” said Mendez, who was volunteering his services for this event, “Video games give [children in a hospital room] the ability to have fun.”

David Walsh has been working with Wigal on Gamers for Giving since its conception, and he is on its board of directors. “It is just a great cause,” said Walsh, who teamed up with Mendez to commentate the Call of Duty tournament for the event that was streamed on Twitch.tv. “I think your mental well-being in the hospital is just as important as your physical well-being.”

Gamers Outreach Foundation’s two current initiatives are Gamers Outreach Karts and video game packages for American troops serving overseas. GO Karts contain a monitor, an Xbox console, and Astro Gaming headphones, and are crafted for use in medical environments where children have limited mobility or access to activities away from their bedside. It takes six to eight weeks to make one GO Kart at a cost of approximately $3,800 USD. The group donated three GO Karts in 2013 and that number is expected to increase to eight or more GO Karts after this year’s event. They have also amassed over 5,000 games and several consoles to package and send overseas, with some of the funds raised through the event to pay for the shipping of the packages which will be sent in the upcoming month.

To find out more about Gamers Outreach Foundation, follow them on Twitter at @GamersOutreach or visit their website gamersoutreach.org to learn how you can help or to stay in touch with their initiatives.

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