Video gamers gather for marathon play in aid of multiple sclerosis
CORNER BROOK — When Patrick Boland heard about Health Boost, a 48-hour video gaming marathon in aid of the MS (multiple sclerosis) Society of Canada held at The Lair on Broadway this weekend, he knew he had to be there.
And not just because he is an avid gamer.
“The MS Society is very important to our family,” said Boland while taking a break Saturday afternoon.
That’s because his stepmother Stephanie Boland was diagnosed with the disease five years ago.
“It was a complete shock to our family,” said Boland, adding “we’ve well rounded our life around it.”
But Boland said he’s not one to just sit down and take it.
“I’m always out, I’m always talking about MS, trying to get people to understand what it is and getting people involved,” he said.
Boland has also hosted volleyball tournaments in aid of the society and takes part in an annual MS walk.
He’s not sure if they’ll ever be a cure for multiple sclerosis, but hopes there will be. In the meantime, he said the money raised helps find treatments and assist the millions impacted by the disease.
The marathon which started at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and ran until midnight Sunday was a first for Boland, but something he was happy to be a part of.
“It’s nice to be able to come out here and play games with a bunch of friends and support MS,” Boland said.
“This means a lot to us, me and my family.”
$1,500 in pledges
Organizers of the Health Boost set a goal of raising $1,000, but that was passed early on when the nearly 25 marathon participants brought in $1,500 in pledges.
Chris Hall said they won’t know the final tally until the end as donations were also being accepted from the public.
Hall is a fourth-year nursing student at the Western Regional School of Nursing. He and some other nursing students came up with the idea for the video gaming marathon after Boland’s stepmom, who is chair of the society’s western Newfoundland chapter, spoke at the school.
“MS is a disease that kind of affects everyone differently,” said Hall. “It can limit your movement, it can limit the things you can do. But gaming is a thing that’s universal. No matter if you can walk or not, you can always play video games.”
A gamer himself, Hall said gaming is a great stress reliever and a great way to keep yourself sharp. When he was younger, he said gaming helped him to learn to read, develop his vocabulary and develop good hand-eye co-ordination.
He said keeping active, keeping your brain working and keeping the muscles going are all good things for people with MS.
As for gaming to help others, fellow organizer Josh Bennett said it’s definitely a growing method of fundraising.
“Gaming is just something that I’ve always enjoyed and the fact that it eventually led me to be able to raise some money for a good cause is just a bonus.”