Extra Life 2015 Recap

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Last Saturday we hosted our third annual Extra Life event at Madison Martial Arts. Extra Life is a charity group that brings gamers together for a 24-hour gaming marathon once a year. Similar to walk-a-thons and the like, players get friends and family to sponsor them for their play time. The money raised goes to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to help provide life saving treatment for terminally ill children.

When we opened Madison Martial Arts, we took the event and put our own little twist on it. We figured that instead of just making a team of our friends, we’d invite everybody. So we set up an event at our dojo and hosted it there.

Our first event, in 2013, was pretty small. OK, I’ll be honest. It was basically just us and our friends. We had about six gamers through the day, and all of us gave up well before the 24-hour mark and went to bed. But… we raised almost $600 total that year, and we had a ton of fun.

I also had my car broken into the next day, and about $2000 worth of (mostly borrowed) equipment was stolen. I’ve long since gotten over it, but somebody’s going to hell for stealing from folks who were helping sick kids. It’s a fact.

But we didn’t let it stop us. In 2014, we had a huge jump in growth. Instead of just us and our friends it became us, our friends, and our students. Throughout the day we had 34 people show up and join us for various lengths of time. And we had our first “all-nighters.” Three of us stayed through the night for full 25 hours (2014’s event happened on time-change weekend, so it ran a bit long). And we nearly doubled our fundraising from 2013, pulling in just shy of $1100.

This year was a bit disorganized. I moved about a month and a half ago. So right when I should have been in peak “getting out the word” mode, I was far too busy to have anything to do with it.

Frankly, I’m almost glad it worked out that way. If we’d had any more people this year we’d have burst at the seams.

2015 was our biggest and best year yet. We had at least 52 people come in throughout the day. I think the total was higher, because I’m pretty sure that we had a few people who never hit the sign-in sheet. Up until about 11:30 or so on Saturday evening, the entire facility was pretty full. We’d have been hard pressed to fit more people inside. We had nine of us stay the whole 24-hours this year – more people than even came to our first event. And we’ve raised about $1300 so far. The total is still slowly rising as last minute donations come in – if you’d like to add your own, you can hit our online donation page.

We had a classic gaming station with an Atari 2600 this year. We got Minecraft, Diablo, Call of Duty and Left 4 Dead up on the 10 foot projector screen. We had a D&D 5th edition session running. We had about a dozen card games. We continued our tradition of late night Risk. I watched a group playing Uno, and another playing Monopoly.

We’re already making plans to make next year bigger and better. Stay tuned – and think about coming out to join us!

Russell Newquist

My name is Russell Newquist. I am a software engineer, a martial artist, an author, an editor, a businessman and a blogger.

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, but I’m technically a high school dropout. I also think that everything in this paragraph is pretty close to meaningless.

I work for a really great small company in Huntsville, Alabama building really cool software.

I’m the owner and head instructor of Madison Martial Arts Academy, which I opened in 2013 less to make money and more because I just really enjoy a good martial arts workout with friends.

I’m the editor in chief of Silver Empire and also one of the published authors there. And, of course, there is this blog – and all of its predecessors.

There’s no particular reason you should trust anything I say any more than any other source. So read it, read other stuff, and think for your damn self – if our society hasn’t yet over-educated you to the point that you’ve forgotten how.

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