Reflecting on Extra Life with Amanda Jones
Over the years we still honor her, but we have greatly grown our cause as our friends have children of their own that have spent time at our local CMN Hospital… Seeing what impact the funds through Extra Life have done for children at my local CMN Hospital really helps.-Amanda Lynn Jones, talking about Extra Life
We have had the pleasure of working with Amanda with Extra Life and the following interview was done over email.
The Charity Boardgamer: Amanda, can you tell us about yourself and how you got into the gaming hobby?
Amanda: Hello, I’m Amanda Jones. A couple things about myself: I love softball and anything Virginia Tech. I’m originally from VA, go Hokies! I’ve always like board games growing up. My first game I ever remember playing was Pretty Pretty Princess.
I just recently got back into the hobby a little over 3 years ago when my local game store opened at the mall, Four Horsemen Comics & Gaming. Now we have about 550 base games, and if you include expansions, we have over 750! We have a bit of an addiction, gotta have them all.
The Charity Boardgamer: What has been a go-to game you have been playing a lot lately?
Amanda: Oh man, my go to game, hmmm…. Ticket to Ride gets to the table a lot but also Mystic Vale. Both are completely different games but oh so much fun to play.
The Charity Boardgamer: Any designer that you have great respect for or a publisher that you have enjoyed?
Amanda: I have followed Rather Dashing Games since the very beginning of the company. One of the founders was on a tv show that I just loved Ghost Hunters and when he left the show I quickly became a fan of their games. They have some simple games and then some dungeon crawl type games. They are a lot of fun.I also really love Looney Labs. I learned about them a few years ago through Extra Life. They were one of the sponsors one year and I was able to get a couple of their games through it. The games that I have played of theirs are a lot of fun. My recent addition, Fluxx Marvel, is so much fun especially when the Groot card comes out.
The Charity Boardgamer: Tell us about Extra Life.
Amanda: Sorry this is going to be a long answer. Extra Life began in 2008 in Orange, TX. There was a little girl by the name of Victoria who is the reason behind the charity. Unfortunately, she ended up passing away from cancer, but her legacy lives on through this organization. You can learn more about her here.
Extra Life typically sets aside one day a year and holds a 24-hour (or 25 hours if it falls on daylight savings) event. The best thing, you don’t have to do it that day or even for the full time. You can even break it up and do two 12 hour days or four 6 hour days. My team typically does an event once a quarter at our local game store and then does a big 24 hour event to wrap up the year on the nationally recognized game day.
In 2010, Extra Life joined forces with Children’s Miracle Network hospitals and has grown through this partnership. 100% of the donations raised goes directly to the CMN Hospital that you sign up for. In West Virginia our state only has one CMN recognized hospital, WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital which is located in Morgantown. Last year, I was able to raise personally over $1,500 dollars for my local CMN Hospital, and as a state we raised nearly $40,000 through the Extra Life program with about 383 registered participants.
Extra Life is similar to like hoops for heart or jump for heart. You sign up and say you are going to raise money through the program and then you ask your friends and family for donations, and companies may even sponsor you. Then you just game to raise money. You can play video games, role playing games and board games. Heck, you can even play Quidditch. Whatever you classify as gaming, you can do it. If you want to play baseball to raise money, go for it!
The Charity Boardgamer: Why is charity/organization important to you?
Amanda: In all honesty, I got started nine years ago with my boyfriend as a way to honor the passing of his mother the previous year. The first year we participated it fell during the month she was killed and we needed the distraction and wanted something to honor her that she also enjoyed. She use to play Wii bowling a lot with Brian and I early on in our relationship. She was a beast with it. Brian registered that year and has participated the past nine years. I finally jumped on the bandwagon and signed up two years later, and we have continued signing up each year.
Over the years we still honor her, but we have greatly grown our cause as our friends have children of their own that have spent time at our local CMN Hospital. Thankfully it was nothing serious, just precautionary stuff. Seeing what impact the funds through Extra Life have done for children at my local CMN Hospital really helps.
One year the money went to NICU cameras and the families were given login information so when they unfortunately had to go back to work they could login and see their kids. Another year they did a sorta Redbox that they kids can scan their hospital bands and check out video games or movies to enjoy. The next few years the funds will be going to an education tv system that the kids can use to learn about their illnesses, since more often they are missing out on school so this is a way they can work on their education. This will be a new system that will go along with the new tower that is currently in construction for the hospital. It will house over 140 rooms.
The cool thing about our CMN Hospital is a window that oversees our local Division 1 college football stadium for the WVU Mountaineers. With this new tower, they are trying to create a mountaineer locker room on the top floor so kids can feel like they are in a locker room. That will be a nice addition to the children’s hospital. Also, each hospital has a guild that represents that particular hospital. Since West Virginia only has one registered CMN Hospital, our guild is WVU Children’s Extra Life Guild.
The guild is structured with a leadership team that consists of our hospital representatives, a president (which I am currently holding for our state, setting up meetings for the entire state, a kickoff meeting to bring all Extra Lifers together to come up with goals for the year and be the face for the hospital with local companies and businesses), a vice president (that typically reaches out to local conventions in and around the state to set up appearances) and a secretary position (takes minutes for our meetings as well as being our book-keeper of conventions attended and what not). The guild helps give information to the rest of the registered members in the state so they know what is being done with the hospital and sort of the in-between person if something comes up and needs help throughout the year.
The Charity Boardgamer: What is a way that we can help with the charity/organization?
Amanda: One way is to personally sign up at extra-life.org. Even if you don’t raise anything, signing gets you emails with updates about what’s going on with the program and your local CMN Hospital. Donating is always good. Every little bit helps! Spread the word about Extra Life. When one person hears about it they tell others, and it will grow and impact more people.
The Charity Boardgamer: Where can we go to find more information about Extra Life?
Amanda: You can go onto www.extra-life.org to learn more about the program and to register. Each hospital has their own Extra Life guild as well. West Virginia, only has one hospital so our state only has one guild, so check out WVU Children’s Extra Life on Facebook.
The Charity Boardgamer: What were some things from 2019 that you enjoyed? What did you learn?
Amanda: Oh man something that I enjoyed from 2019, hmm, I really enjoyed going to larger conventions. I was able to attend Origins 2019 in Columbus, OH and PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia, PA through a board game organization I am a part of Double Exposure Envoy. I got to demonstrate games from publishers for the convention attendees and it was so much fun presenting a game one after another to people that were genuinely interested in the game(s). Through this, I was also able to talk about Extra Life with a number of companies that had never heard of it or have but did’t really know what all it actually was. It was nice seeing the ins and outs of larger conventions. It gave me ideas to help grow some of the events that my Extra Life team does throughout the year as well.
The Charity Boardgamer: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Amanda: This year my personal goal is to raise $1,500 for Extra Life and I’m hoping that our state as a whole can meet or surpass our total from last year which was just shy of $40,000! I’d also really like to attend Extra Life United which is a gaming convention for Extra Lifers to try and raise money for their local children’s hospital. It also falls during the CMN Hospital week, where they gather the “Champions” of CMN Hospitals and do lectures on what impact CMN has been doing the past year and how it has grown. It looks like it is a lot of fun. Here is to hoping at least.
After this interview, Amanda was given the chance to go to Extra Life United. She will be representing all the children affected by WVU Medicine from April 7th-9th, raising money #forthekids! You also can donate to her 2020 campaign by clicking here.