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Gamer rallies communities to fundraise for St. Jude

In a city known for its tech advances and growing wealth, Seattle-based video game streamer Goobers515 is on the forefront of a philanthropic revolution.

For three years now, Goobers has hosted “Metal Meal Meltdown” on livestream fundraising platform Tiltify. He invites other Seattle streamers and local community members to create meals in his own kitchen, inspired by metal music. During his stream, he offers incentives to followers who donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

He says the gaming community is a natural match for the hospital and its mission. And he’s sure St. Jude founder Danny Thomas would agree.

“Danny said he'd rather have a dollar from a million people than one million dollars from one person. The gaming community has millions of people and seeing what they can do and seeing that small little support that they can give. The five dollars, the one dollar can hold so much weight,” he said.

Goobers is one of hundreds of streamers who have helped raise more than $14 million for the hospital through the St. Jude PLAY LIVE program. The donations poured in because gamers like Goobers are wildly popular entertainers in the digital world, sharing their expertise as a viewing experience on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.

Ultimately though, the power of St. Jude PLAY LIVE is in the mission of St. Jude, a research hospital where sick kids from all over the world can go to receive lifesaving treatment for free. Gamers have dedicated their hearts and time to supporting this mission until childhood cancer is cured once and for all.

“One of the best parts of being a streamer is seeing communities of people form, and working with those communities to help benefit others and leave a legacy of positivity,” says Benjamin Lupo (known by his handle, DrLupo), a leading fundraiser for St. Jude and a gaming celebrity with more than three million followers on Twitch.

In July 2018, Lupo mobilized his enormous fan base during GuardianCon, a continuous, 48-hour-long gaming event held in Tampa, Florida. The unassuming father of one was able to raise $350,000 in four hours, the highest of any single stream session.

He even surprised a St. Jude patient, Tyler, onstage at the convention.

Tyler, a young video game enthusiast, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February 2013 at age 6. While undergoing more than two years of treatment, gaming provided an escape for Tyler, allowing him to stay in contact with his friends despite being in treatment.

Now 13 and in remission, Tyler is working toward melding his two passions: St. Jude and gaming. His ultimate goal is to create a video game where all money spent goes to St. Jude, and he is already learning to code so he can bring his dream to fruition.

The event that allowed St. Jude patient Tyler to meet some of the biggest names in gaming and was founded in 2015 by Ben Bowman, an avid streamer of the popular multiplayer video game Destiny.

Bowman, who emphasizes being positive and kind in his streams, knew the Destiny community had potential, and envisioned mobilizing the community to support a charity. When he found St. Jude, it seemed like a perfect fit.

“When we were looking for charities we ended up settling on St. Jude because it really matched the idea that we try to promote in our community, which is positivity and hope,” Bowman said. “We wanted to support a charity that does good internationally, and St. Jude freely shares its research around the world while also providing care to patients and families free of charge.”

He loves that GuardianCon has become an event that encourages gamers from all over the internet to unite behind a common cause.

“We want to show the world that gaming can be a platform for doing great things,” Bowman said.

And by bringing their communities together to raise more than $14 million since the inception of the St. Jude PLAY LIVE program, the gamers who support St. Jude are doing just that.

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