Hal-Con describes itself as the biggest, geekiest sci-fi convention in Atlantic Canada – and while most people associate elaborate costumes with the event, one group that took part in Hal-Con is working to raise awareness and money for children in need.
Extra Life is a Children’s Miracle Network program, where gamers from across North America get together to participate in a 24-hour gaming marathon. The whole time, participants are collecting money for local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, including the IWK.
“The money raised today from extra life goes to support the urgent care priority needs at the IWK,” said Penny Sears, IWK Foundation.
“That includes things like advanced technology, up-to-date equipment, research and improved facilities.”
Last year, the event raised $58,000 for the IWK Children’s Hospital. This time around, participants are hoping to raise even more.
“I’ve been in the games industry for about 20-years now, so this is a passion of mine. It’s great to be able to take something I love and turn it into something for good,” said Greg Sewart, president of Extra Life Halifax. He has a personal reason for taking part in the event.
“My youngest brother, Bradley, passed away in 1983 from leukemia, he’d be 36 this year,” said Sewart.
“It’s always been a passion to raise money for the IWK. We spent a lot of time there visiting when we were kids, you got to see first hand how scary that can be, so anything that I can do to help an amazing facility like the IWK, I try to do.”
Playing games for a full day may sound easy, but gamers say it’s actually more challenging than it looks.
“Twenty-four hours straight is pretty tiring, which sounds silly when you’re just sitting there playing video games or playing board games,” said Sewart.
“But you can also break it up through the year. That’s one of the things we want people to know when we’re here at Hal-Con is that just because the event is scheduled for one weekend in early November, doesn’t mean you can’t fundraise all year round.”
Since it started in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $22 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across North America.