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Meet a Change Maker: Dave Hansen from Extra Life Chicago

We recently went behind the controller with Dave Hansen, who was a local Blockbuster Video Game Champion for playing Donkey Kong on Nintendo as a kid! Over the past nine years, he has been advocating for patients and families at Lurie Children’s, and this month was selected as the Lurie Children’s CMN Change Maker of the Month. Check out his stream here!

Hi! My name is Dave Hansen and I lived in the Beverly area most of my life and recently moved to the Oak Lawn area this year. A fun fact about me is that when I was a kid, I was my local Blockbuster Video Game Champion for playing Donkey Kong Country on Super Nintendo. The prize was a certificate that I still have and a year of free video game rentals.  It was also the second time I’d played the game.

How long have you been gaming and what are your favorite games to play?
I’ve been playing video games since I was about 4 or 5 years old. I remember my Uncle coming to stay with my family during his leave from the military. He brought his Nintendo and I got hooked on Super Mario Bros.

What is your favorite childhood game?
One of my favorite games from my childhood would probably be Dungeons and Dragons. My dad taught me and my cousins when we were young. I’m now running a game for those cousins and other family online over the past month.

How long have you been involved with Extra Life Chicago?
I started fundraising for Extra Life in 2011 for Chicago Children’s Memorial Hospital before it became Lurie Children’s Hospital. I joined the Extra Life Chicago Guild in 2014 as Vice President and then President for a few years. I took a step back due to life and work schedule but continue to support as much as I can.

How did you find out about Extra Life?
I originally heard about Extra Life through a video podcast called the Totally Rad Show. The idea of a 24 hour gaming charity that I could do with friends sounded like fun. I didn’t know how much joining Extra Life would change my life and lead to awesome opportunities.

What is your “why”? What keeps you inspired to raise funds and awareness for Lurie Children’s?
The biggest “why” I have continued to support Lurie’s is my mom was a patient her first few months at Chicago Children’s Memorial Hospital. So without the care she received, I might not be here. Then I’ve met so many inspiring people participating in Extra Life from fundraisers, volunteers, staff and, of course, the kids.

What does Game Day look like for you?
I actually did my Game Day marathon early in October as a way to celebrate my 36th birthday which was the day after I finished. For the national Game Day, I helped out other Extra Lifers by hanging out in stream chats to keep them company or playing games cooperatively.

Are there any big fundraising thresholds or accomplishments you are especially proud of?
The first time I raised over $1000. I was streaming and believed no one was watching. Then before ending my stream an anonymous $500 donation came in and I had to take a break to collect myself. Came back to thank them and another $750 anonymous donation came in. I didn’t think I’d raise that much money and said I’d get an Extra Life tattoo if I made that amount. Still working on a design for that.

Has COVID-19 and quarantine altered your gaming routine?
I have probably been gaming a lot more since COVID-19 and the Shelter In Place took effect. In April, I was supposed to join friends in Orlando for Extra Life United for a gaming tournament to support our hospitals. That was then moved to a digital format with online tournaments and gaming hangouts. Every Tuesday since then me and some other Extra Lifers have been playing Fortnite or some other game without missing too many nights.

What is your favorite memory involving Extra Life?
My favorite memory involving Extra Life would probably be my first Extra Life United in 2016. I went knowing one person that would be there and feeling nervous or shy. Then I left with a large family and we continue to stay in touch even though we live all over the place.


What would you tell someone thinking about signing up for Extra Life?
I would say it was the best decision I made, especially getting to meet so many people that are a part of this Extra Life family. Volunteering with the Guild and hospital has led to so many things that I am appreciative of having the opportunity to be apart.