Pro gamers help raise thousands for various charities

“The sold-out event was live-streamed over the internet on the Intel LANFest website.”

Gamers for Giving 2013, a 400-person two-day video game tournament and bring-your-own-computer local area network party, kicked off Saturday morning at the Eastern Michigan University Student Center.

The sold-out event was live-streamed over the internet on the Intel LANFest website in its entirety featuring Major League Gaming players Mike “Hastro” Rufail and Dave Walsh, among others, as special guest commentators.

The Gamers Outreach Foundation, a non-profit founded by former EMU student Zach Wigal, hosted the event in cooperation with the Intel LANFest series and EMU Student Government.

“This is the second time we’ve done this at Eastern,” Wigal said. “We get people mostly from Michigan, but also from all over the country. People are coming in from Atlanta, Seattle, Ohio, Illinois, just all over to support.”

Gamers for Giving’s goal this year was to raise $15,000 for various charitable initiatives, including sending gaming equipment to troops overseas and its custom GO-Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts) to hospital patients with limited mobility.

Rufail, a five-year veteran of professional gaming, was in attendance for the event coming all the way from Greensboro, N.C., to support GOF.

“This is probably the most important event I do all year,” Rufail said. “I really feel special being able to give back. Both fun for our troops and the GO-Kart program, what we’re doing here kind of reverberates for years and really helps them get over their hospital stays. It’s a great feeling sending consoles and games for the troops out fighting for our freedom to enjoy and unwind with in their down time.”

EMU Military Science and Leadership Department Head Michael Wise was in attendance along with numerous Army ROTC students, who assisted in setting up the floor and providing security for the weekend-long event.

“Zach approached us about a year ago about this event,” Wise said. “He invited us to support this program for him to fundraise for the Army ROTC department. The cadets put together a troop of shifts and they’re basically helping Zach break stuff down and help people find where to go. The feedback we’re getting is, ‘How cool it is to have real army guys around in the game room’ because some of the games have military stories.”

The event was sponsored by Intel, Astro 343 Industries, Treyarch and other top names in gaming and technology. The latter two companies donated copies of their most recent titles “Halo 4” and “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” for tournament play. Other companies donated various console and PC gaming components and accessories that were given away in a donation raffle.

Over $3,000 was raised solely on raffle tickets and cash entries for the event according to a final count on Sunday. The announcement that the $15,000 goal had been reached came moments later.

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