Extra Life Interview With Steve Dekrey

November 4th is the day when gamers around the country will dedicate 24 hours purely to gaming. While this may not be too different from what these gamers do every day, November 4th is different because they will be raising money for Extra Life and the Children’s Miracle Network. To help people understand how important this event is, we talked to Steve Dekrey, president of the Extra Life Guild of North Dakota.

What is Extra Life?

Extra Life is a national fundraising campaign that partners with Children’s Miracle Network and is aimed at video gamers and tabletop gamers participating in 24-hour gaming marathons to raise money for their local CMN Hospital.

What does Extra Life do with the money raised?

Every dollar that is raised through Extra Life goes directly to assist CMN at the player’s local CMN affiliated Children’s Hospital. The funds provide things as simple as toys and games for the kids to things as important as medical equipment that is specialized for pediatrics and teaching tools to help parents and kids understand complex medical procedures.

How much has Extra Life raised in the past, and what is this year’s goal?

I believe when gamers in Fargo started participating in Extra Life, they raised around $10,000. Since then, that total has grown every year. I know the last two years we raised $30,000 and $32,000 so it has grown quite a bit since area gamers started participating.

This year’s goal would be to try to push that total to $40,000 if possible and I think with the increased awareness that is totally possible.

A note from CoreCon: There is a team page specifically for CoreCon, Anime Fargo, and Fargo Gamefest. The team’s goal is to reach $2,500, and we’re more than halfway there! If that goal is reached, we’ll give away a free badge to one of the participants! You can check the progress for the team here: https://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=35354

Why did you get involved with Extra Life?

In 2015, I became involved with Extra Life. This was about a year after my daughter Aeryn had her successful bone marrow transplant after a battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I started by just helping get the word out about the event at Paradox and making small donations to friends participating. Rich had me on the Doxcast to talk about my family’s cancer journey, and after that, I decided I wanted to take part as well. I was completely shocked when in about 2 weeks I had raised almost $2,000. I had so much fun at my first marathon and so many people were moved by my story that I was asked in 2016 to become president of the Extra Life guild for North Dakota. Since then Extra Life has been my life. I promote events, help fundraise, and get awareness out about the kids at Sanford Children’s and why this is so important.

If someone doesn’t play games, is there another way they can help?

If you don’t play games, that’s perfectly fine. You may know a gamer participating and you can help them by making a donation to their fundraising page. You are always welcome to come by the Extra Life table at one of the conventions or events we attend. You can volunteer some time helping us register new gamers and helping people understand what the fundraiser is. We are always looking for people to donate food, games, and other services as incentives for gamers to fundraise and attend our events.

Some people may argue that the hospital can afford what Extra Life helps with. Why should people get involved anyway?

Children’s Miracle Network is an organization that provides the service at the hospital of making the families and kids more comfortable and providing help and assistance in some very tough times. That is not to say Sanford does not provide services to the patients and families, but CMN goes above and beyond. CMN provides things like diapers for the NICU, safe treatment rooms for the children, and all sorts of distractions for them.

The biggest thing that CMN does for the hospital, in my opinion, is provide the Child Life Staff. Child Life Staff work for CMN and check in regularly on the patients to provide anything they need, such as movies from the playroom, toys, games, and activities. That is important because like my daughter, when some patients are in treatment, they are not allowed to be around other children due to compromised immune systems. They will also sit in with your child while the parent has to do things like take a phone call, go get something to eat, or just go take a break in the lounge. They also surprise the kids all the time with gifts and fun visitors.

Having a child in treatment is highly stressful to the parents, and Child Life is there to lend a hand and make that burden easier. As far as I’m concerned, my daughter, my wife, and I wouldn’t have made it through our long hospital stay without these wonderful people, and we are forever grateful.

Want to get involved in Extra Life? Simply make a profile at https://www.extra-life.org and select the hospital you would like to support. You can also join the team page for CoreCon / Anime Fargo / Fargo GameFest.  If our team reaches our goal of $2,500, we will be giving away a free CoreCon X badge to one of the participants.

Anybody who gets at least $25 in donations can attend the Paradox Comics-N-Cards gaming marathon November 4th. They’ll provide all sorts of board and video games for people to play throughout the day. Past years have had around 120 gamers, so get there early to reserve your spot!

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