The Danny Thomas/ALSAC Pavilion at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was abuzz with laughter and positive energy when a community of video gamers descended on the campus in April for the fourth annual St. Jude PLAY LIVE Summit.
Gamers worldwide have powered up their consoles to raise funds and awareness for St. Jude, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The St. Jude PLAY LIVE fundraising campaign has raised more than $4.2 million for the hospital, with more than 14,000 participants and more than 100 million social media impressions.
As a continuation of the gaming community’s dedication to St. Jude, GuardianCon 2017 is taking place this weekend in Tampa, Fla. What began as a small meet-up of enthusiastic players of the video game Destiny in 2015 has morphed into a two-day event expected to draw thousands to the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall, and thousands more viewers online.
And while the kids of St. Jude are the clear winners from events like these, the gamers consider themselves winners as well. “It gives us an increased purpose,” said Imperial Girl (gamers prefer being identified with their screen names). Here from the Washington area for the St. Jude PLAY LIVE Summit, she said she found it “humbling” that St. Jude works so closely with gamers.
“St. Jude understands the gaming community,” added Hugs of Los Angeles. He said he enjoyed watching the gaming skills of patients and their families at the summit, but “was more impressed with their trash-talking.”
Bloodyfaster, also of Los Angeles, said she was touched to be recognized by a patient fan during the summit. “She has her own YouTube channel and we promoted it on Twitter for her,” Bloodyfaster said. “Her mom thanked us and said she’d been having a rough day. It brought tears to our eyes — we will leave here and our hearts will be full.”