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Meet a Change Maker: Nathan Clemente from Extra Life

This post was written by Nathan Clemente, a member of the Chicago Guild for Extra Life.

Hi all! My name is Nathan Clemente and I have been fundraising for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago through a program called Extra Life for the last six years. Extra Life is a group of passionate people that unite together to play any game—board games, video games, and more—during the year to raise money for local hospitals of their choosing. In the time that I have participated in Extra Life, I have been able to raise $19,000 for Lurie Children’s. As a member of the Extra Life Chicago Guild, I’m proud to say that as of this year we have surpassed over $1 million in lifetime funds raised for Lurie Children’s!

One awesome event that Extra Life hosts during the year is Extra Life United (ELU), a charity game tournament held in Orlando during Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Week where entrants can take home winnings that go to the children’s hospital of their choosing. Not only do participants get additional opportunities to fundraise, but ELU has become a reunion of sorts for this amazing group of gamers bonding over the same goal, to heal kids. Look at this happy family from 2019:

Group Photo from Extra Life United 2019

Unfortunately, and understandably, due to current circumstances ELU 2020 was held virtually. But we did not let that dampen our spirits. Thousands of gamers signed up for online games, and over a three-day period over $370,000 was raised to support the Children’s Hospitals COVID-19 Impact Fund. ELU 2020 was a joy for me personally as well, as I was able to take home the gold in the Splendor board game tournament, where I took home an additional $8,200 for Lurie Children’s! Read more about the tournament winners here.

Taking part in virtual Extra Life United in 2020

Extra Life is very special to me as it’s an opportunity to give back to others doing things that I love. I first got involved when six years ago a coworker approached me with the opportunity to join the company team. From the moment I heard about Extra Life, I was hooked. Every year, I host 24-hour game marathons at my office. I joined the Chicago Guild community and began volunteering at conventions to locally promote and recruit. And the past couple years, I have been partnering with bars and restaurants to host board game nights, where portions of the sales go to the hospital.

Most importantly, my time with Extra Life has given me the opportunity to visit Lurie Children’s, take part in ELUs, and meet so many incredible CMN miracle families. Hearing their stories gives me a drive to do even more to help raise money #ForTheKids! One story that impacted me heavily was when my landlord saw on one of my social media pages that I was fundraising for Lurie Children’s. He reached out to me that his twin daughters, who were born severely premature, were taken care of at the hospital during that time and my efforts meant a lot to him. Now, each time I wear an Extra Life shirt, I represent the mission to help families like his and so many of the other amazing people I’ve met. Their smiles and faces are what motivate me to raise awareness to continue to grow Extra Life.

Posing with a CMN champion from Lurie Children’s in 2019

For others that are raising funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, my advice to you would be to always stay inspired. Every cent or dollar aids a family that needs it. While hitting big goals and fundraising numbers is great, don’t let missing those totals discourage you from the fact that you are a hero for kids by dedicating energy to helping them. There are plenty of best practices on how to take part in Extra Life on their page—never hesitate to seek ways to grow in your fundraising efforts. Lastly, I recommend finding a community to bounce ideas off of and be encouraged by. I have been blessed by my Extra Life family and I promise there is one just like it waiting for you!