linda chastain

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?

A group of energetic young adults playing video games nonstop for charity?  I did not have a “Donkey Kong” clue when I answered my phone three years ago and spoke to a delightful young man by the name of Mike Uyama of Speed Demos Archive (SDA) asking if the Foundation would be interested in a fundraising event being held on our behalf by the SDA “gamers”. “Gamers”…what in the heck was he talking about?

SDA teamed up with the website Yetee to sell 6 different shirts for each day of the marathon. $3 from every shirt sold went to the marathon proceeds.

SDA teamed up with the website Yetee to sell 6 different shirts for each day of the marathon. $3 from every shirt sold went to the marathon proceeds.

I have had very limited experience with video games (well, I did beat my grandson at Madden once) and I am totally challenged by technical devices! However, I did remember playing Pac Man with my kids, so I thought perhaps the Foundation should explore this offer a little further!

Little did I realize that three years later, I would be attending an incredible and inspiring charity gaming event called “Awesome Games Done Quick” (AGDQ) organized by the SDA members. I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed  watching the marathoners compete in “speedrunning” (races to see which competitor finishes a video game first), learning about the different games and laughing at the creative measures used to encourage others to watch and donate (Gangnam Style dance moves, for example).

At hour 76 of the 2013 marathon, nearly $140,000 had been raised, surpassing the original goal of $100,000. With three and a half days still to go, the gamers increased their goal to $250,000. By day six SDA gamers had already surpassed the new goal and reached over $425,000 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation by the end of one week!

I am truly amazed at the selfless and charitable efforts of this well-organized and dedicated group of young volunteers and organizers. They played an assortment of over 110 games for seven days straight (eating and snoozing in shifts). Incorporating a mix of both old and new games, it was quite entertaining to watch!

I was touched by the personal stories I heard while listening to audio comments that reminded me how a vast majority of the worldwide population has been touched by cancer in some way. Donations in honor and in memory of loved ones came in from all over the world. Approximately 110 participants traveled to the National 4H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland at their own expense from a variety of countries (Sweden, Australia, Germany and the U.K., to name a few) and from all over the U.S.  Nearly 30,000 viewers watched the live stream daily and over 9,600 donors contributed to the goal of saving lives through cancer prevention and early detection.

Executive Vice President and C.O.O. Jan Bresch poses with SDA members during a visit to the marathon.

Executive Vice President and C.O.O. Jan Bresch poses with SDA members during a visit to the marathon.

These guys and gals “get it”…they played for a cause that they believe in and encouraged others to get behind them. During a site visit I overheard one of the gamers say “prevention is better than a cure.” One young donor was playing in memory of his grandmother who passed away from cancer as the tournament began.  His shout out, “This is for you Grandma!” … says it all!

To put it mildly, a job well done SDA! Awesome Games Done Quick continues to be a creative and unique event and one that continues to amaze the board and staff of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. We cannot begin to adequately express how your success will benefit the Foundation’s cancer research, education, advocacy and community outreach programs. I, for one, cannot thank you enough!