The time grows near; we are nearly a month away from the pre-determined date of 24 straight enjoyable hours of playing our favorite games (though some may opt to do it a different day or over a series of days). Sadly, we haven't seen the line of donations for Team GIO move very much over the past couple of weeks. So, I figure maybe its time for us to find out what inspires us, what drives us to participate in Extra-Life and why, if you haven't joined yet, you should participate. Allow Stranger and me to kick it off:

This year will be my second year participating in Extra-Life as well as being a member of Team GIO. In addition, this year I am honored to be assisting Jack Gardner and mojomonkey12 with putting together some exciting digital raffles for our participants as well as getting to game for 24 straight hours and have my wife be ok with it. But Extra-Life is more to me than just an opportunity to win prizes and play games; it is a chance to play games with an extremely important purpose: kids. 

Last year, Extra Life raised over a million dollars for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, helping sick kids across the country. Many of these kids face pain and struggles that they will probably have to face for the rest of their lives, and in many cases those lives are far too short. But we all know what these wonderful hospitals do for millions of kids (if you don't check out their website, it truly is amazing), but I want to share why I participate in Extra-Life. 

Those who read my blogs know I don't normally delve into my personal life very often and when I do it is generally only to springboard into a topic of conversation, but I think this would be a good time to crack open the proverbial doors a bit. For those who don't know, I am the father of two amazing sons. I may spend time writing about games and spend a lot of time at work, but when it all boils down my kids are my life and have been since they were born. While I believe it is similar for most parents, I can honestly say the worst moments of my life is when my kids are in pain and I can do nothing but sit by and hope for a miracle.

The two most inspiring people I know: my kids

About a year and a half after my oldest son was born; he had an accident and fell a short distance from a swing but landed in an odd position, breaking his femur just below the hip. The break was such that it required a very particular type of pediatric orthopedist to properly set the bone and get it set up in a cast. In the city I live in, there were absolutely none of these specialists who accepted my son's health insurance (a popular insurance company who shall remain nameless) and we were living from paycheck to paycheck and using credit cards to cover the differences in our living expenses. We had no money to pay the out of pocket costs that had been estimated at $5,000. I was helpless and had a son who could no longer run around the house and was constantly in pain.

Luckily, we were able to get into the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital and we were able to get my son's leg taken care of and we were able to make arrangements with the hospital that would not send our young family spiraling off into a worse financial position than we were in already. I honestly don't know what we would have done without our CMN hospital and I want to make sure they stick around for a long time, helping people survive through the worst moments in their lives. Mine was just a broken bone; I cannot imagine the pain some families have to go through just deciding if they can afford medical care for a child with cancer or some mystery disease. It just doesn't seem fair that these innocent boys and girls should have to endure such suffering because their parents don't have the money to pay for the expensive costs of health care. While much of society would like to blame our government and seek answers from politicians, I blame society and its inability to act without coercion from government.

This is why I participate in Extra-Life: because it is my responsibility as a human being to help care for my fellow human beings. I don't have the skills to be a doctor and I do not have the stomach to be a nurse, but I can make sure these wonderful hospitals are staffed with them and have the equipment they need to save a child.

I challenge each of you to stand up for a moment in time and do something for somebody else. Join us and play for 24 hours for these kids or donate some money, even if it is just $1. When else in life are you going to hear someone tell you to be socially responsible by playing video games for 24 hours?

Like Noob here, I am also in my second year of Extra Life, one-time alumni of Team GIO. To be honest, I had no clue what to expect from last year, Mojo just kinda finagled me into joining the team last year shortly after I joined Game Informer Online. I loved doing it, raising money and working on graphics for Team GIO (albeit unsuccessfully) and perusing the live streams taking place during it, plus making some new friends. I'm endlessly thankful to what it brought to my experiences here on GIO, but I never really thought in-depth about what it MEANT to be part of this, to be part of this charity of a consortium of ragtag gamers who managed to raise over a million dollars to help kids. So, this year, ever since our early start in April, I've been reflecting on what it is, at the heart.

And I don't have any stories like Noob does. I've known family and friends who went to a local CMN hospital in the past. I've been through it myself. Yet I'm fairly sure the visits were covered by insurance. So I pondered, wracking my brain to properly convey the words that are shimmering through my mind. And it goes back to that word, charity; the act of helping someone in more difficult circumstances than your own. This is the heart of the matter. These kids, suffering from things like cancer, have been put in a situation that is desperately unfair. These are difficult circumstances the average person couldn't even begin to fathom.

Then, a saying I'd heard back in the annals of time came to me. Something about if everyone in the world donated two pennies each, there would be a hundred million dollars being sent to a charity. People I've nagged into joining Extra Life have been telling me "Oh, I couldn't possibly join. I can't really get a lot of money." This is the incorrect mindset to take. Because, as that saying shows, (and I did my math), even the smallest of charitable assistance can mushroom into something truly special. Team GIO is living proof. We're not rich. Hell, many of us probably aren't even in the higher reaches of the middle class. But I'll be damned if the last two years we haven't scrimped and scraped and bothered family and friends until we had something to donate and ended up with thousands of dollars between us. Extra Life as a whole was like that, and it ended up raising money so fast the front page counter broke. There are far-reaching consequences of making a difference: over a million dollars to help sick children and their families who live in fear of financial troubles in addition to the health of the child. Do you have any idea how much that helps? These are but ripples in a pond, starting small at first but coalescing into a tidal wave of relief for these families going through hell.

So I send out the call. Who is willing to step up, be one of the people who act as role models out of the selfishness typically associated with human nature? You can't shrug this off saying someone else will do it. You can't sit there and procrastinate, and hem and haw and put off this. Children NEED this money. They need it to survive, to live their lives to the fullest. I am proud to be a member of Team GIO, to be a part of Extra Life, recruiting and nagging and heralding one of the most noble of causes it has been my pleasure to assist with. 

And that is why I Extra Life. To be part of something bigger than us all, to be a cog in the machine of goodwill eked out of the regular apathy plaguing the average person. To help these kids live, to help their families find a serendipitous state of mind as they find out there's one less thing to worry about. Whether I know them or not, I know my meager contributions matter. I know that even if I make a slight difference in one person's life, it's all worth it to spread such a simple act of charity around, to improve the conditions of these families and the children they love. 

So, raise some money, recruit some friends, join the Extra Life site, put your tickets on some prizes, and grab a controller. I look forward to seeing each and every one of you on the team, and it'll be a great honor to sit down with you all on the 20th of October and play some video games until we can't see straight anymore.

Stranger and I challenge you to find your inspiration, find what makes you want to be a part of Extra-Life and use that as your inspiration to help raise money. If you aren't a member of Extra-Life yet, maybe a more appropriate question is: why aren't you participating? What holds you back from making a difference? Once you get over that, because I can't think of a reason why you wouldn't, join us, and help save a life while you take some digital ones.

Want to join or donate, please click here and be a hero, what would Shepard do?