For the last four years, thousands of gamers have joined together annually to play for 24 hours for Extra Life – a gaming marathon in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®. Gamers rally friends and family members to sponsor their play. The funds they raise go to help save and improve the lives of kids at the CMN Hospital in their community. Houston Game Dev is delighted to have an exclusive interview with Allen Ragasa the Ambassador of Extra Life Houston.
houstongamedev: Can you tell us, Mr. Ragasa, what is Extra Life Houston? And how did it come about?
Allen Ragasa: Extra Life Houston is a group of Houstonians who have come together to promote Extra Life. Down to our core, we are gamers who play games and raise funds to help the patients at Texas Children’s Hospital. All of the funds raised by Extra Life Houston supports charity care, community outreach and financial assistance to help children who otherwise might not receive the care they need and deserve. Last year, Extra Life Houston
raised over $50,000 for Texas Children’s Hospital. The idea of forming a Houston team came from when I participated in Extra Life in its first year. In the summer of 2008, I had at the time raised money running marathons and got hurt during my training. I was listening to the Sarcastic Gamer Podcast and heard the founder of the charity, Jeromy “Doc” Adams talk about Extra Life. They had the idea of a fundraiser aimed towards gamers and that was to play games for 24 hours straight and get your friends and family to donate money to the cause. At the time, we had gamers all over the world participate and money went to the cancer center at Texas Children’s Hospital. The way I spent my 24 hours during the event was playing games at home but later moving it to Dave and Busters. My friend, Ryan Cayari, had donated money to my efforts and joined me there. We sat at the bar talking about how we could take this further, how can we make more of an impact for those kids at TCH. In the summer of 09, we later met up with Doc’s wife Leslie and talked about forming the Extra Life Houston Team. I’m proud to say that our team is now on our fourth year and has done marvelous things since.
houstongamedev: Can you tell us about some past events?
Allen Ragasa: We’ve had three over night marathon events during every Extra Life day but we have held fundraisers and awareness all over the Houston area. We’ve done things at coffee shops to benefit dinners at P.F Changs to barcrawls to game nights at the Houston Twestival and at Joystix Arcade. We even participated at conventions such as A-kon in Dallas and Oni-Con and Compicpalooza here in Houston.
houstongamedev: What is your Role in Extra Life Houston as Ambassador?
Allen Ragasa: My role as an ambassador is to bring recognition and awareness to not only Extra Life, but to Texas Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network. My successes include guest starring on podcasts talking about Extra Life, speaking at anime conventions and using social networking like Twitter and Facebook to bring more people who want to help enrich other kids’ lives. I’ve had contact with volunteers and teams spring up from various cities like Greensboro, North Carolina, Columbus, Ohio, Los Angeles, California, Seattle, Washington, Austin, Texas and most recently NYC and New Jersey. We are all a dedicated group of volunteers and in many ways ambassadors in our own right. We want to help the kids at the hospital in some way and if we can bring more people in to help, the better it is for everyone involved.
houstongamedev: How can parents, family and friends get involved?
Allen Ragasa: You can find more information about our events on our Facebook page Extra Life Houston or follow us on Twitter @ExtraLifeHOU. I recommend signing up for your own fundraising page at www.extra-life.org and get started on collecting donations. If you are playing for Houston, we would love for everyone to join the Extra Life Houston Team. We are always looking for more volunteers to help out and promote our events.
Houston Game Dev realizes what a valuable asset this is to children and our community. We will keep you updated on the upcoming October event and encourage participation. Thank you Allen Ragasa and all those involved with Extra Life Houston!