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BBCH Extra Life HERO: Meet Deb!

It’s no secret that I love our Extra Life program at BBCH, but it’s mostly because of the people. Our Extra Lifers are awesome! I’d like to introduce another one of our amazing gaming community members making a big difference for the patients, families, and care teams at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital (BBCH)! – Meaghan

Meet Deb! AKA FreakishGem
Deb’s pronouns are she/her/hers

Deb and her husband Paul (@KE6PIJ) have made Extra Life a family affair, and then some! Seriously- they game with their daughters, Amanda (@RunsWithPandas) and Meghann (@CopyBookInk), their family friends, AND their grandkids, including grandsons Trey and Gabriel! This is the TENTH YEAR that their team of family and friends (“The Creepers”) has been participating in Extra Life to benefit The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital! Gooooo, Creepers! 🙂

First off, what are your favorite games to play? Deb says, “As a family we love playing Minecraft and that is our game of choice for Extra Life game day! My girls and I really enjoy playing Fortnite together, but really we will play just about anything. Games are really more fun with more people.” Everyone has their preferred gaming platforms, Deb says (hers happens to be Xbox), and their family has a lot of them covered- Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and the PC, plus they play games on Steam, too.

The Creepers Team Photo from Extra Life 2021

As I already mentioned, this is Deb’s TENTH year of Extra Life! She explains that Paul took the lead on engaging their family a decade ago, “and the rest of us joined in the following year. Gaming for 24/25 hours can be rough, but we’ve learned to schedule breaks so that we get up and move our bodies periodically.”

It all adds up! Keeping it humble, Deb shared that their fundraising “has never been as massive as we’d like…” and I hear this from a lot of our Extra Lifers. Can I interrupt this blog for a moment to say give yourself credit! 🙂 That’s the beauty of Extra Life- we can all contribute through gaming, and together we make a GIANT difference for BBCH; every little bit helps.

Deb told me that their family has probably raised somewhere in the range of $2,500 overall. But because this is a milestone year for their team, Deb explains that “Our goal for 2022, since it is our 10th year, is to ‘up the ante.’ We’ll be embarking on different things to try and raise more and gain more team involvement. We recognize that times are tough, so I’m trying to tap into any areas that support fundraising for causes like this, and really utilizing social media and networking to increase our efforts.”

Deb also mentioned that her husband’s former employer (Walmart) was a supporter of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and would match their Extra Life fundraising efforts. This is a good tip for any of our Extra Lifers: see if your employer will offer matching gifts, or if you might be eligible to receive a donation in exchange for hours spent volunteering.

Deb’s got game! When I asked Deb how long she’s been a gamer, she told me “I would have to say we’ve been gaming for the better part of 40 years. My husband and I started playing video games back when Pong was a thing. We each had Atari systems, Nintendo and Super NES systems ‘back in the day,’ as well as frequented arcades to play.

How Deb (and Paul!) found out about Extra Life: “My husband heard about Extra Life through his work at Walmart. He said he saw a poster advertising and looking for gamers to raise funds. He came home from work that day and said to me ‘you have to watch this video from this group called Extra Life; I think we need to get onboard.’ The video was the story of Victoria Enmon from Orange Texas, and her journey through cancer, remission, infections and the return of cancer which ultimately claimed her life.  Honestly, that video resonated so deeply with the both of us that we’ve been a part of Extra Life ever since.”

What Extra Life means to Deb and Paul: “We get asked that a lot, especially since we have healthy kids and grandkids. The one thing I can say is that the story that started it all, Victoria Enmon’s story, just really resonated with us. My husband is a cancer survivor, so he knows firsthand how important it is to have medical support and care for the patient and family. I also think of it in terms of kids should be able to be kids, and that doesn’t involve having to deal with being in a hospital or fighting for your life. Through Extra Life, we are able to donate our time, doing something we ALL love, knowing that the funds we raise, whatever they may be, stays local.”

Deb also shared that Paul’s cousin, Bobby, was diagnosed with leukemia when they were both children. Paul shares Bobby’s story on his Extra Life fundraising page, and I’d encourage you to take a look to learn more, but also to see a great example of the impact that personalization can have. That’s another great tip: personalize your Extra Life page for a more successful fundraiser- your real life “why” will motivate your friends and family to support your efforts!

What do you want folks to know about Extra Life? Deb says “The main thing I want folks to know is that getting involved doesn’t mean you have to be a video gamer. It’s so much more than that! You can gather your friends and family playing card games, board games, or video games over a 24-hour period of time raising funds that go to support kids and their families going through some really rough medical times.  We choose to do the 24-hour marathon, because it’s fun. We do take a few breaks to let our bodies and minds be away from the computer or game-system for a bit, but we do engage in a full 24-hour period of time.”

What would you tell someone who is not sure about signing up for Extra Life? “Watch Victoria Enmon’s story. Make a very simple plan to get involved, and pick a game or avenue of choice. The earlier you can start your fundraising efforts and planning the better, but don’t forget that every dollar counts.  If you don’t want to do this yourself, find a team you can join. I look at it this way: if I’m going to sit for an hour or more playing video games anyway- what if while I did that, I was able to help kids who can’t because they’re confined to bed during a grueling treatment. Kids need to be kids. They should be able to run, jump, ride bikes and play games.”

Thank you to Deb, Paul, and the whole Creepers team! And congrats on 10 years of making a difference through Extra Life!

You can find out more about Extra Life at, or make a donation to Deb’s page in support of The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital HERE.