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24-hour gaming marathon runs extra hour with end of Daylight Saving Time

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An annual gaming marathon benefiting an Indianapolis children’s hospital coincided Sunday with the end of Daylight Saving Time, scoring gamers an extra hour to reach their fundraising goal of $140,000.

Hundreds of people participated in the 25-hour Riley Hospital fundraiser, playing board, card, video and other games remotely and at locations across Indianapolis.

The local campaign – organized by gaming club “Extra Life” – is part of a worldwide gaming event created to support Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospitals, including Riley.

Players have raised more than $14 million for CMN hospitals since the marathon was founded in 2008, organizers said. 

One group of participants gathered in downtown Indianapolis early Saturday morning and stayed until Sunday, making their way through stacks of board games and pizza boxes.

Dan Burch, one of the players, said he created an additional fundraising incentive this year by promising to shave his beard if he could bring in $1,200. Burch followed through – and live streamed on social media – when he reached his goal.

The marathon had generated more than $100,000 by 7 a.m., the players said. The campaign will continue to accept funds for Riley Hospital through December 31.

Several “Riley families” – parents and children who were patients at the hospital – joined the players for portions of the all-day, all-night marathon.

Oliver Wojtyna, who described himself as a “proud Riley dad,” said he had been part of the fundraiser since it started a decade ago and was thrilled to give back to the hospital that had provided a support network for his family.

Jennifer and Blake Miracle, parents to 4-year-old Sebastion, described how Riley physicians and staff guided them through a “traumatic” experience.

“He was 2 weeks old when he had his first seizure,” Jennifer Miracle told News 8. “I watched another relative die after having a grand mal seizure and a heart attack at the same time. I was so scared for him.”

Watching her son undergo treatment – and subsequent seizures – would have been “isolating” without the support of other Riley families they met through the hospital, she said.

The rambunctious toddler’s favorite part of the gaming marathon? The games he makes up on the floor with his beloved toy school bus.

“If only we had that much energy!” a player said, gulping down an energy drink at the 23-hour mark. “We do it for these kids.”