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Extra Life Founder Jeromy Adams talks organization’s success
Jeremy Adams founded Extra Life in 2008 after being inspired by 15-year-old cancer patient Victoria Enmon who later died of leukemia. A member of gaming blog Sarcastic Gamer, he used his network to form Extra-Life and ended up raising $120,000 the first year for Children’s Hospital.
Since then, the organization has raised millions of dollars during its annual 24-hour gaming marathon thanks to the involvement of gamers reaching the thousands.
Wanna join? The process is quite simple. Just visit the site, build a fund raising page, pick a local Children’s Hospital and get sponsorship for as little as $1 an hour.
Between playing some of gaming’s future at E3, we got a chance to talk with Adams about the success of Extra Life, the industry’s reaction and more.
Tha Fly Nation: Enjoying E3 this year?
Jeromy Adams: We’re doing great! We’ve already signed up 400 Extra Lifers here on this trip which is a huge success for the hospitals and kids we serve. It’s probably our best E3 ever I’d like to say.
Tha Fly Nation: From the looks of things, Extra Life has grown significantly compared to last year correct?
Jeromy Adams: It’s amazing. You were here last year at E3 right? Last year, there was like 10 or 20 people like yourself who knew about Extra Life and what it was about. This year, half of the people we talk to know about this. I was just down stairs and this guy was talking to me about loving Extra Life enough to be a participant for the last five years.
Tha Fly Nation: How have you grown specifically from last year?
Jeromy Adams: 2012 we had about 17 – 18 thousand gamers participate in Extra Life. Last year, we had 43 thousand. Right now, we’ve grown 300 percent on gamers signed on for that.
Tha Fly Nation: Talk about the response from the industry.
Jeromy Adams: It feels like we’re in this big awesome hug from the industry. The industry has decided that the cause of saving the life of kids at these Children’s Hospital is something they care about. I also believe that the industry loves that the money that’s raised stays there so it gives our partners a footprint everywhere they have a customer, a local footprint where they can do something nice for that customer’s area or children in that area.
Tha Fly Nation: What’s been the effect in helping those children who are in need?
Jeromy Adams: Last year, we raised $4 million. When partners join on board or when folks such as yourself write stories, that causes sign-ups to happen. Everybody who raises money or participates in Extra Life on average will raise $100 for their local hospital. So every time you get one of your readers or viewers to sign up, you’ve basically added another $100 for your local Children’s Hospital. You can only imagine what the sum of different voices can do like someone from Activision or Blizzard telling their millions of followers to sign-up for Extra Life.
Tha Fly Nation: Describe your relationships with the Children’s Hospitals now compare to your start.
Jeromy Adams: Our hospitals didn’t know what to expect from Extra Life because nothing like this had been done before and a couple years in, they were asking how we could keep it going. These hospitals normally have to put lots of people and lots of time into fund raising and resources but with Extra Life, some of them didn’t know what it was when they received checks from Extra Lifers saying they’ve raised $17 or so thousand dollars. Well that got their attention and now, our hospitals of so enthusiastic. We have hospital directors who’ve never picked up a game before are hanging out with gamers once a month to share ideas. It’s building these stronger relationships
Tha Fly Nation: Looking back, what’s been the greatest personal moment with Extra Life?
Jeromy Adams: I would say at Celebration, a big annual event we have at a Children’s Hospital. This past year, I had the opportunity after Extra Life was winding down to have Victoria Enmon's parents who Extra Life is founded after present an award to one of the hospital directors in Orlando. When they took the stage, everyone was so excited for them. Everyone just loved them being there and they got to see what their daughter’s legacy turned into. They’ve seen it online but they actually got to see people who’ve supported the cause. It was like they were local celebrities. It’s more than Victoria’s life but her legacy and I’m just a stewart of that. I think the greatest moment is having her parents see what that legacy has grown to.
Tha Fly Nation: Anything new for the annual 24-hour gaming marathon?
Jeromy Adams: It’s going to be October 25 and we’ve moved it up a few weeks. It’s a Saturday and 24-hours. Remember last year was 25-hours because the clocks went back. We’ve beefed up the website and it’s a little more fun. In July, we’re adding an achievement and badge system system. We’re also adding single sign-on forums. So when you sign-in, there’s going to be some cool stuff you can do. Then there’s some cool prizes we have planned in the future as well.
Tha Fly Nation: Last year, what was the most played game during the marathon?
Jeromy Adams: The marathon was right after Grand Theft Auto V came out and I think a lot of people played that though the online component was working at the time. They eventually got that fixed. There’s an enormous amount of diversity in Extra Life in every way. As far as games go, I would say that 15 to 20 percent were playing board games or table top RPGs. The board and table top communities have embraced Extra Life in a giant bear hug that we’re thrilled about.
Tha Fly Nation: When you started Extra Life, did you ever expect the reaction that it’s received?
Jeromy Adams: I’ve been in shock since 2008. Every time it doubles, I say that I’m not going to see that again. Then it does. We didn’t expect any of this and I don’t expect anything. I just try to do the best I can and open door for gamers to do their very best.
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