Four gamers huddled around a television playing "Super Slam Dunk Touchdown" at Reddit HQ.

Reddit gamer day raises $282,000 for Children’s Hospital

on November 13, 2015

“Yes, yes, yes! Whoa! Pass, pass, pass … whah!” A group of four guys sat on an L-shaped couch over a game of “Super Slam Dunk Touchdown,” while three other gamers huddled nearby to talk strategy as they moved their “Pandemic” play pieces.

The gamers’ cries were punctuated by clocks of game controllers, flips of cards and a crackle of pizza crusts—all part of the soundtrack at Reddit on November 7 as the social networking and news site participated in Extra Life’s 24-hour Game Day to raise money for Children’s Hospital Oakland.

Extra Life, a sub-charity of the Children’s Miracle Network, invites people to register and play either video, board, or outdoor games while encouraging family and friends to donate money and time from their homes or other sites.

The Reddit office was just one of many sites around the world that was participating on Nov. 7, with each participants at each location helping to raise money for their local children’s hospital. All Reddit Game Day proceeds will go to the Children’s Hospital Oakland.

By 9 the next morning, the Reddit group had raised $282,000.

“That’s kind of the beauty of it,” Reddit community manager Kristine Fasnacht said at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. “We’re inspiring people around the world to join us and raise money for this charity, not because they’re here in [San Francisco], but because they’re part of this website that they like and can rally around, join and raise money for the charity.”

“I heard about the Children’s Miracle Network through some co-workers of mine who are no longer here with us anymore, but started the company sponsoring the Extra Life marathon about four years ago. They got us all onboard with the whole charity because it’s gaming and it’s kids,” Fasnacht continued.

Oakland resident Elaine Deutsch’s family has been beneficiaries and contributors to the effort. In 1991, her daughter Hannah was born with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. Four hours into an operation to repair Hannah’s heart, complications occurred. Unoxygenated blood was flowing through the passageways to her heart. Deutsch recalled that hospital personnel then asked her and her husband if they would like a priest or a rabbi called in to help them say goodbye to their daughter. But Hannah survived the procedure. Today, after three open-heart surgeries, she is a college graduate working in sales support and web design in Minnesota.

“I heard about Extra Life because I’ve given speeches for the Children’s Miracle Network previously, and they know I’m happy to talk about Children’s and Hannah’s story,” Deutsch said. “I’ve become a donor as well as a volunteer because Children’s Hospital saved my life by saving hers.”

Deutsch said that the team at the Oakland hospital works to help families who are often in great distress. “I see kids in that playroom that have four or five siblings and there’s a critically ill child and the parents can’t even pay the $9 to park. So Children’s really works with everybody to help them through all this,” Deutsch said. “They do the treatments on the children first and ask questions later. They really do a great job with taking care of the whole family.”

Reddit’s Fasnacht, who previously worked as a nurse, added that the charity’s sets similar priorities. “I’ve seen people get turned away at hospitals before. It’s sad, and even worse when they’re children,” she said. “The Children’s Miracle Network never turns a child away.”

Abdur Shemsu, a Children’s Miracle Network hospitals project coordinator at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Foundation, noted that the non-profit organization started as a telethon in the 1980s. Today, it is affiliated with 170 children’s hospitals. “Their main initiative is to fundraise for these hospitals, so every hospital that’s a member has a designated children’s hospital miracle network representative that’s there to work with the regional partners that support Children’s Miracle Network,” Shemsu said.

Game Day contributions, Shemsu says, go toward covering uncompensated care, social services, new and upgraded hospital equipment and funding research. Though Game Day happens annually, donations from come in all year round. “People can act as sponsors if they’re not interested in video games, board games or outdoor activities,” Shemsu said. “About 20 percent of the money comes in through them, since it’s a year-long campaign, while the bulk of the money comes in the weekend of the designated Game Day.”

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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