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Local Extra Life Team Celebrates Over $60,000 Raised

Ready, set, game on! The Extra Life program at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital had another fantastic year of raising funds through playing video games. In 2017, over 296 gamers came together to raise over $60,000 to support the greatest needs of pediatric patients. This total is more than double of what was raised in 2016- way to go, team Extra Life Shands!

A group of dedicated Extra Lifers celebrate their accomplishments with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Ambassadors Jude and Oliver.

Throughout this year long fundraising initiative, gamers sign up to support their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. They fundraise, host events and recruit others to join them in a 24-hour gaming marathon to raise funds and awareness for their cause. Over $130,000 has been raised locally by the Extra Life program since 2013.

One of area of funding that Extra Lifers support at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital is research. Because of the support of Extra Life, programs like Streetlight can receive funding for research projects. In fact, a former UF Health patient, who was a University of Florida Ph.D. student at the time, drafted and helped conduct a study with Streetlight.

Streetlight is a support program for the older pediatric patients at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Patients are between 13 and 25 years old and living with cancer, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, and other chronic or life-limiting illnesses. College-aged volunteers come to the hospital and build friendships and spend time with the patients.

“This study is such a big reason why we’re even here and able to keep supporting patients in the way we do,” said Emily Sullivan MS, CHES, Director of Streetlight at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

Many patients in the Streetlight program find video games to be an amazing way to escape from life in the hospital.

“Video games let you be someone else, albeit not forever, but just enough to let you get away and save the world from reptilian monsters that want to enslave humanity,” said one 19-year-old cancer patient. “It’s video games that can let you be anything you want.”

Sullivan said Extra Life gives many teenage and young adult patients a purpose. They are able to feel part of a community and can do something meaningful through it. She says she is grateful for team Extra Life Shands’ positivity and openness.

Extra Life participants at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital have developed a great relationship with the Streetlight program, and have even helped out in repairing gaming equipment so more pediatric patients can have access to video games.

“To think there’s a group of strangers out there who feel so motivated to help people they may never meet or know is just incredible,” said Sullivan.

Extra Life participants and UF Health staff members joined for a check celebration earlier this year in recognition of over $60,000 raised in 2017.

Thank you for all you do for the kids, Extra Life! Want to be a part of Extra Life in 2018? Sign-up to help kids at our hospital today!