Extra Life Spotlight: Brett

When Brett Palaschak plays video games, he is doing it for more than just entertainment. He is doing it to make miracles happen. This year marks the third year that Brett has participated in Extra Life, a program that unites thousands of gamers around the world to play games in support of their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Brett is playing games for UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, but that is not the only thing he is playing for. He is playing for hope and a cure for kids battling life-threatening illnesses and diseases.

Brett, left, and Extra Life Shands Guild President Joey Mock, right, participate in a Game Day stream for Extra Life.

Brett, 26, knows firsthand what it’s like to be one of those kids. He was born with hemophilia, which is a rare genetic blood disorder. In order to treat this disorder, he receives infusions three times a week and has endured hospital stays, a surgery and frequent doctor visits throughout his childhood and into adulthood.

Brett said, “Having hemophilia has inspired me to do things I wouldn’t have otherwise, such as my participation in Extra Life.”

Having severe hemophilia means that Brett often bleeds longer after an injury, bruises easily for an unknown reason, and also is at risk for bleeding internally in spaces around his joints. There currently is no cure for hemophilia.

“One of the best ways for me to cope with my disorder while being social growing up was playing video games with my friends, especially when stuck in the hospital,” said Brett. “I can specifically remember getting to play games with another patient while we were both waiting for surgery, and it eased my anxiety as a child going through a major operation,” he said.

Brett, pictured here, has been gaming for kids through Extra Life since 2015.

Participating in Extra Life is not the only way Brett is involved in giving hope for kids at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. As a Lab Assistant in the Pediatrics Department research lab at the University of Florida, he plays a role in the studying of gene therapy as a way to cure the very disease he was diagnosed with at birth- hemophilia. This research also happens to supported by a grant from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Over half the funds raised locally with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals each year go towards funding for transformational research. The other funds support the greatest needs of the hospital, such as lifesaving medical equipment and programs like Child Life.

Brett working as Lab Assistant with the University of Florida Department of Pediatrics.

“Getting to participate in Extra Life for the past two years has been incredibly fulfilling,” said Brett. “It has really opened my eyes to how important the cause of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and I have personally felt the impact of their efforts,” Brett said.

If you are interested in becoming part of the Extra Life program to help continue funding research for diseases like hemophilia, visit extra-life.org to sign up today! Or support Brett by making a donation to his Extra Life page here.

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