PHOENIX – Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Phoenix Children’s Hospital is receiving financial support from FaZe Adapt, a popular member of the local gaming community.
In a Twitch stream to support the local hospital and in partnership with Extra Life, Adapt and FaZe Swagg – both Phoenix natives – raised more than $2,000 that will benefit the hospital’s Hope Fund, which is used to launch new programs, provide needed equipment and conduct cutting-edge research.
Adapt and Swagg (Kris Lamberson) are members of FaZe Clan, a popular esports and entertainment organization.
“Me and my entire family have been there (Phoenix Children’s Hospital) numerous times throughout our lives,” said Alex Prynkiewicz, better known to gamers as Adapt. “I thought it was something I can do for Phoenix, especially for charity and everything going on right now because of the pandemic.”
With much of the world on pause and entertainment options limited, gaming presents a unique opportunity to provide people staying home to practice social distancing, something fun to do.
“There are a lot of kids at home, and you don’t really know how kids have it growing up and what their situation is like,” Prynkiewicz said. “For kids, being able to log onto Twitch or YouTube and watch our videos or streams; being able to hear that it makes their day or entertains them always means a lot to me.”
Extra Life, a nonprofit that has raised more than $70 million for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, adjusted because of the pandemic and transitioned its Florida event online. Extra Life United 2020: Online Edition unfolded April 7-9, and the virtual gathering brought gamers together with a chance to win part of $150,000 for one of 170 Children’s Miracle Network hospitals across North America.
“People feel very powerless because they are stuck at home and this (Extra Life) is a really cool thing that is designed for someone, who is stuck at home, to tangibly support both the medical and economic element of the pandemic,” said Talitha Baker, Extra Life’s senior manager for communications.
Locally, Phoenix Children’s Hospital continues to serve the community despite the added demand created by the coronavirus.
There were 2,020 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maricopa County as of Monday, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
“Just like any hospital, we are accepting donations of masks for our staff, but overall it’s a great hospital and we’re doing a great job,” said Alissa Parten, corporate development officer for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation.
But with the help of Prynkiewicz, who is the largest member of the gaming community to support Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the hospital is benefitting from gamers.
“What I’ve experienced through the gaming community is that everyone is so passionate and willing to step up in times of need like this,” Parten said. “They will do anything and recruit as many gamers as possible. It’s the one thing that we can really turn to to rely on funders and supporters.”
Prynkiewicz, 22, and Swagg aren’t the only members of the gaming community who have raised money for those affected by COVID-19. Earlier this week, prominent streamers Pokimane and FaZe Cizzorz raised money for small businesses with the help of Verizon’s Pay it Forward Live initiative. FaZe Clan also participates in a charity tournament called Fight 2 Fund.
“We team up with our friends, NBA players, rappers – people from all walks of life – and we try to raise money for charity,” Prynkiewicz said. “So far, we’ve raised over $124,000 through the FaZe Fight 2 Fund tournament. I’m so happy to be a part of that. That stuff really matters and affects the world in a positive way.”
In addition to the financial relief the gaming community is providing, viewership numbers are rising. While Twitch is not revealing specific metrics, it confirmed through an email exchange that the company is seeing “increased usage and viewership.”
With no specific timetable for a return to normal life, gaming and its biggest personalities continue to provide a distraction for those who are struggling with the hardships that come from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m very lucky and blessed to be able to live the life I do and have a platform and reach that can affect the next generation of kids,” Prynkiewicz said.