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Gaming charity event: Play games, heal kids

Arts & Entertainment

By Yahaira Cruz

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but give a man a video game…and he could save a child with cancer.

If you were to ask someone their weapon of choice in order to help their fellow neighbor, you’d probably hear a gun or perhaps a good old fashioned bat. But for gamers like Steve Bedford, his answer might surprise you.

What started in the living room of the Miranda family as a project involving a few close friends has become a nation-wide event. The event’s leader/sponsor Angel Miranda and his wife, Laurie Miranda, have been gaming for a cause the past 3 years. This year is their 4th. It all started when they heard about Extra Life, a 24-hour video game marathon that raised money for All Children’s Hospital, which treated and fought beside Tori, a girl who battled against acute lymphoblastic leukemia; unfortunately Tori lost to leukemia in 2008.

With the help of All Children’s Hospital and Emerald City comic books, the Miranda’s did not waste one minute in putting their gaming passions toward a good cause. Fighting cancer. To participate, gamers donate a couple of bucks for a few hours of fun gaming, and in turn, that money goes to a child in need. This non-profit organization helps kids all over the United States and Canada, as well as local kids and families.

“It’s received a lot more attention, and donations increase as the years go by,” says Angel Miranda. “We even had Bay News 9 show up.”

Miranda’s wife, Laurie, welcomed gamers who arrived at the event. The facility was a video gamers dream, and these gamers had all day to unleash any gaming jitters that they might have had with a 24 hour game-a-thon of video games, board games, and card games in order to raise $2,218 to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Why $2,218?

“It’s the number of kids in the U.S. treated for cancer every day,” answered Laurie Miranda.

Comic Con would have been proud. There were gamers from kids to adults and boys to girls.  Refreshments were provided by Dunkin’ Donuts, Cold Stone Ice Cream, and Starbucks.  The game-a-thon also had special visits from the Sun Coast Ghostbusters and a group of Star Wars enthusiasts dressed as Chewbacca and a storm trooper to contribute to the event.

“It’s gotten to the point where people now have driven all the way from Lakeland, Sarasota, and Orlando just to come here and play,” said Angel Miranda.

The event was a success with the money raised, surpassing their goal at $4,406 in donations; that number is bound to be higher as the years go by. Time can only tell what’s next for the marathon next year.

And as for weapon of choice for family friend and 2nd year attendee Steve Bedford?

“No other than the game controller…I like to keep it classic.”

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