zophar53's Blog

Posted on Oct 3rd 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under Extra Life for Kids, Extra Life, Childrens Miracle Network Hospitals, Rainbow Babies and Childrean, charity

Play games and help kids. What could be better?

So, I had a topic for this post planned out a long time ago. I took the pics and was typing it up, but then it hit me. It's that time of year again. No, not Retro World Expo (well, it's that time of year too, and I'm looking forward to experiencing that for the first time). I'm talking about the annual Extra Life for Kids charity event. It kind of snuck up on me this year.

I decided that since my next piece for the site wasn't going to be due until the day of the event, and since I would need to make that post the first entry in our new community movie discussion, this was the last chance I had to write about this wonderful event and why it's so important to me. I know there are some of us in the RFGen community who participate already, and I've participated myself three times now, but I feel that I'm in a unique position this year to make the most out of the event and help more than I've been able to in the past. And so, much to my editor's chagrin, I'm sure, I decided I'd be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to share my story.

On Saturday, November 4th, from 10am to 10am the following day, November 5th, I'll be playing video games and raising money for Rainbow Babies and Children hospital in Cleveland, OH. If you're not familiar with the event, Extra Life has been running for several years now and has raised millions of dollars for various children's hospitals around the country. Much like a run-a-thon, the idea is to play games for 24 hours and raise donations. These can be video games, card games, board games, D&D, pretty much any kind of game out there. It's a great way for gamers to use their favorite hobby to help out a fantastic cause.

When my mother was pregnant with me, her doctor told my parents that I had developed a minor case of gastroschisis. Basically, as my skin formed, there was a small piece of intestine that hadn't been enclosed and was sticking out of my belly. Fortunately, since they could see it on the ultrasound they had plenty of time to plan for the surgery I would need to correct it right after I was born. Needless to say, my parents didn't get much time to hold their new addition to the family before I was whisked away to the operating table. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that my case required a little more work than simply tucking things back in and sewing me up. There was some delicate work needed to patch things up to working order. This was much more difficult work in 1980 than it is now, and although my doctors did an amazing job fixing me up, I was left in a pretty fragile state.

After my surgery, I was quickly moved to University Hospital's Rainbow Babies and Children center, where I remained for the first several months of my life. Because I was still healing, I had to be fed intravenously. Even when I was fully recovered, the underlying nature of my condition and subsequent surgery meant that I would remain underweight for the rest of my life. At around 5-6 months old, I was finally stable enough that when my parents demanded to be shown how to take care of me themselves so they could take me home, my gastroenterologist agreed. But even though I was going home, I still needed nightly feedings through a broviac catheter central line.

Home health care didn't really exist back then, and because the mixture of vitamins and lipids had to be fresh, my dad had to pick up the supplies needed to keep me alive from the hospital literally every day after he finished with work and school. He did this for a full year before home health care came along and made things a little easier. Throughout my childhood and even into adolescence, I relied on nightly TPN infusions to get the nutrients my body needed. I ate normal food just like every other kid, but in much smaller quantities. I had several more stays at Rainbow, and regular doctors' appointments well into my teen life.

Eventually, as I got into my mid and late teens, I grew and ate more on my own. I was still small for my age, but I slowly started being able to sustain myself as my appetite grew and I was able to start cutting back on my TPN. At around age 21, I finally made the decision to refuse the treatment that had in many ways controlled my life to that point. My doctors adamantly advised against it, but I had had enough. I felt that my appetite had grown to where I no longer needed outside supplements. Much to my surprise, my father supported my decision. My catheter was removed and I wouldn't let them place another one. Since then I've been relatively healthy and have not gone back to intravenous feedings. For the past 16 years I've thrived; I have a great appetite now and my life has not been significantly hampered.

I don't share this story to garner sympathy. I'm very happy with my life. I only mean to express how meaningful Extra Life is to me personally. I've been a sick kid stuck in the hospital, and anything that can help or provide fun or a distraction from that is huge. It's not an exaggeration to say I would not be alive today without the excellent care I received when I was little, from both Rainbow and my parents. It's because of them that I've been able to participate in this awesome hobby of gaming, go to cons and concerts, discover my love of reading and writing, and make so many great friends, and I can't think of a better way to give back and pay it forward.

It's been a rough year, with many sources of tension, and the recent events in Las Vegas, Florida, and other parts of the world leave a lot of people in great need. It's tough to choose just one charity when there are so many wonderful ways to help. If you'd like to help this one, please consider donating to my participant page, or that of one of our other fine community members. If it's not in your budget at the moment or feel another charity is more meaningful to you, that's ok too! Even sharing the info to spread the word is hugely appreciated.

Become a participant, raise enough donations, and wear this rad t-shirt with pride!

Anyway, enough with the depressing stuff. I wasn't able to participate in this event last year, and now I have a nice beefy gaming PC and more bandwidth available to me than I've ever had, so I hope to share more streaming footage on my Twitch channel this year. I'll also be posting more on the event on my Twitter account as the big day approaches. I'd like to use the time to catch up on some great games from 2017 I haven't gotten around to yet, but I'm always up for honoring requests, so any suggestions in the chat or the comments below will definitely be taken under consideration.

If you'd like to know more about Extra Life, you can find all the info here, including how you can help, either by finding a participant to support or by becoming a participant yourself. Finally, I want to personally thank you all for the opportunity to be a part of this community, and for taking the time to read all this. Let's play some video games and help some kids!

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"And so, much to my editor's chagrin, I'm sure, I decided I'd be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to share my story."

I resent this statement so much that I donated to your efforts. Best to you good sir!
Well I'm not above using dirty tactics for a good cause lol. Much appreciated good sir Smiley
I'm super excited to run mine as well. One of these times , we should stream together!

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