Saturday will be a long day for Brian Schmitz.
Schmitz is preparing for his fourth year participating in a 24-hour marathon — playing video games.
Schmitz, who has lived in Oakdale since 1995, is raising money for Gillete Children's Hospital in St. Paul on Oct. 20 through Extra Life, a gaming marathon that supports Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across the country.
This is Extra Life's fifth year in raising money for children through gaming. Last year gamers raised more than $1 million for children's hospitals. In hopes of raising more money overall this year, Schmitz upped his fundraising goal to $1,000 (to make a donation click here).
Oakdale Patch caught up with Schmitz about how he got involved in the gaming marathon.
Oakdale Patch: When and how did you first hear about this marathon fundraiser?
Schmitz: I first heard about it through another video-gaming friend and former colleague of mine during its first year (in 2008) who had a fun time participating in the marathon. I didn't get an opportunity to participate in that marathon, but I put it on my calendar to participate the following year, and have been a participant ever since.
Oakdale Patch: Why did you decide to get involved?
Schmitz: I had been wanting to be a participant in a fundraiser for a little while, but nothing really piqued my interest until this came along. I had been an avid gamer for several years, and this fit me perfectly. The video-gaming community has always been tight with each other, and when an opportunity came along to also give back to other communities, and in particular kids, that really spoke to me.
Oakdale Patch: Your goal increased to $1,000 this year? What has it been in years past? Why did you decide to increase it?
Schmitz: My first year's goal was only $100, which was met easily. The second year's goal was increased to $200, and I kept it there for the third year. Both years I met that goal easily too, and last year I actually raised just shy of $700. So I decided that I wanted to up the ante and try to raise $1,000 this year, which is a stretch goal, but I think it is one that can be attainable. I'm also expanding my fundraising reach this year by asking local companies to sponsor me (like Milio's Sandwiches and Target, etc.).
Oakdale Patch: What games will you be playing during the marathon?
Schmitz: I anticipate playing the following games during the marathon: Halo: Reach, Split Second, Mass Effect, Rock Band 3, and some smaller arcade games like Bejeweled Blitz and Uno Rush.
Oakdale Patch: Now that you are in your fourth year, what is your secret to playing games for 24 hours? What is the toughest hour?
Schmitz: I've come to figure out in my fourth attempt that the secrets to playing for 24-hours straight is to a) vary up the games — they need to hold my attention and I try to change the game at least every 2 hours; b) get a few hours of sleep right before the event, but not a full night of rest (because that can actually make you groggy); and c) hydrate with water or Gatorade rather than energy drinks. The toughest time comes around hours 19-20. At that time, you've already seen the sun rise and set, and you know that you are in the home stretch but you also know that there are still five hours to go (which can seem daunting).
Oakdale Patch: Anything else you'd like to add?
Schmitz: Next year I plan on trying to make a team to play games with. Several friends and co-workers have said in the past and again this year "I wish I had known about it so I too could participate!" So next year I'm going to see if a team approach might work out too.
I also want to mention that I have a 14-month old daughter, Winnie, and although I started participating in these marathons well before she was even a thought, I continue in these marathons to help out all kids in need because my wife Carolyn and I would hope someone would do the same for Winnie if she ever needed it.