Join RackerGamers for the Extra Life Game-a-Thon 2015

For many video gamers, victory is achieved by defeating a level boss, beating an online opponent or finishing a game in its entirety. In short, it’s usually a quest that begins and ends with the gamer and his or her console.

Not so, however, for RackerGamers, a group of Rackspace employees, friends and family who find creative ways to combine their passion for gaming with doing good.

One of their biggest events is participating in the annual 24-hour game-a-thon for Extra Life, a global initiative that brings gamers together to play video games (as well as board and tabletop games) to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Extra Life gamers raise funds through donations from friends and family and the organization’s efforts have raised millions of dollars in recent years.

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio is the primary beneficiary of RackerGamers’ Extra Life event, and Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Foundation President John E. Bel called the annual event “essential for the Children’s Hospital to create a space of healing and comfort for children and families.

“As a result of their work, our staff is able to save lives and return pediatric patients to good health and well-being.”

RackerGamers began participating in Extra Life in 2009, and since then, they’ve raised more than $80,000 for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. They’ve also seen their group grow from a few dozen Rackers in their first year to nearly 200 today.

That makes them the largest Extra Life team in San Antonio, and while they’re not sponsored by or affiliated as an official Rackspace charitable group, they play under the proud moniker “Team Rackspace.”

Since first hearing about RackerGamers’ participation in Extra Life a couple of years ago, SharePoint Program Manager Tanya Keyser has gone from donating to other players to becoming a full-fledged participant herself. She also devotes hundreds of hours a year as the project manager for RackerGamers, ironing out myriad details for the game-a-thon before the big day arrives.

“I love the fact that I can be one small part of something that has a monumental impact on our local community,” Keyser said. “I’ve seen Extra Life grow enormously the last two years, and can’t wait to see what the grand total is for this year. Knowing that Rackers have a part in that means a lot to me.”

RackerGamers host their Extra Life game-a-thon at the Event Center and Factory inside Rackspace HQ (aka The Castle) in San Antonio.

“Our hope is that by bringing more gamers together in one place, we enjoy the games more, and in turn energize everyone to increase donations,” Keyser said.

This isn’t your normal LAN party, either. This year’s event will offer dedicated space for PC/console play (bring your own set up), and a separate space for tabletop, board and card games. They’ll even have some vintage arcade games, as well as interviews with local game designers and a performance from a local musical guest.

Dale Bracey, a social media strategist at Rackspace, joined RackerGamers in 2010 and utilized his network of friends and gamers to help spur the group’s growth from a few dozen into the hundreds.

“Having Tanya step up to manage our organization in 2013 allowed me to focus on the logistics for the attendees and further creative functions I had on my plate,” he said.

In addition to his day job, Bracey manages the group’s social presence and website, among other things. But his participation in RackerGamers is also inspired by a personal connection.

A premature baby himself, he had to endure extensive medical care as a newborn in order to survive.

“I know what my family went through making sure I stayed in this world,” he said. “And we were lucky enough to have the means to get the help we needed.”

“For the families that don’t have the means,” he added, “I participate and fundraise so they too can have the chance to bring another amazing life into this world.”

This year’s Extra Life game-a-thon will take place on Sat., Nov. 7, and ticket sales as well as additional information can be found at the link below:

http://rackergamers.org/events/

You can also check in on the livestream on game day starting at 8:00am CDT on Nov. 7 at:

http://www.twitch.tv/RackerGamers

To donate directly to Team Rackspace, you can visit their Extra Life page at:

http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=20921

Abe Selig joined Rackspace in May 2015 as a senior writer. He writes and edits for the Rackspace blog as well as other outlets throughout the company. He’s an Austin native with a background rooted in journalism; he enjoys music, dogs and being outside.

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