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Extra love for Extra Life


When Lisa attended a Startup Edmonton presentation for computer programmers, she learned about Extra Life Edmonton and knew she’d found her fit — a welcoming community of gamers that fundraises for Stollery kids. Fast forward to today and Lisa is now the volunteer president of Extra Life Edmonton, championing a team that helps hundreds of fundraisers play games and heal kids.

Extra Life is a Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) initiative where people of all ages play games of all types — from Twister to Uno to Lisa’s personal favourite, the Final Fantasy series — to raise money for their local children’s hospital. Since 2008, Extra Lifers across North America have raised more than $100 million USD through playing video games, board games and sports.

Lisa oversees a guild of passionate volunteers who dedicate their free time to Extra Life and sharing information with the gaming community about its impact on children’s health. Through their efforts, Extra Life Edmonton has grown from 30 fundraisers to more than 800 across northern Alberta, and raised more than $2.18 million for Stollery kids since 2011.

“Lisa, the guild and all the gamers bring a tremendous energy and make a life-changing difference for Stollery families,” says Angela Bennett, a senior development officer with the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. “The money they raise through Extra Life helps to fund urgent needs at the Hospital, including specialized equipment, programs, training and research that benefits kids from backyards across Alberta.”

Thanks to the guild, gaming conventions in Edmonton and communities such as Leduc and Spruce Grove now fundraise for the Stollery. With 37 per cent of Stollery inpatients coming from outside the Edmonton zone last year (2021), Lisa’s goal is to continue to expand Extra Life into the northern Alberta communities the Hospital serves.

A senior data analyst at EPCOR by day, Lisa uses her free time to go all-in with Extra Life — calling it her labour of love.

Her passion for Extra Life comes not only from the opportunity to have fun while making a difference with community-minded gamers, but also from the opportunity to meet Stollery kids who take part in Extra Life and share stories about their medical journeys.

Whether Extra Life participants fundraise for one day or year-round, they’re invited to participate in a 24-hour online gaming marathon on November 5 — Lisa’s favourite day of the year.

“Game day celebrates people who work hard all year to make a difference for kids,” says Lisa. “It’s a time where we game together and celebrate what we’ve achieved. We get to do what we love with the best group of people.”

“Whatever work we do for Extra Life Edmonton, it’s nothing compared to what the kids go through.”
– Lisa Hawthorne, Extra Life Edmonton president

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