Gaming For Good: Esports Program Raises $5.4K for Local Children’s Hospital

Year in and year out, the Champlain Esports Program is making a difference in the local Burlington, Vermont, community. This year, the program raised more than $5,400 for the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital during the annual Extra Life event.

For 48 hours straight, Champlain Esports hosted players and community members at the Esports Center at our Lakeside Campus to raise funds. The group exceeded their 2023 fundraising goal by more than $1K and topped last year’s total by just as much.

To heighten the stakes—and the fun—the club’s Overwatch Blue team hosted Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday, November 11, for the Esports program’s first ever in-person match at the Lakeside arena. And it was a blast.

Champlain Esports club Overwatch Blue team competes against SNHU on Saturday. Photos by Game Art major Andrea Kutsup ‘24, Co-Coach of the Overwatch Blue team.

Players and student shoutcasters, videographers, photographers, social media gurus, and more were hard at work capturing the moment and hyping up the program’s monumental milestone while a streaming watch party cheered in the room next door. To everyone’s great excitement, the Champlain team played a toe-to-toe match and came out victorious in the end. (Go Champs!)

“When I got to Champlain, I always had a passion for gaming and the thing that stood out to me is the community,” said Club President and Business Administration Major Josh Ziluck ‘25 in this WCAX story. “It really brings all of us together instead of staying in our rooms playing games. It has allowed us to find what it means to compete and play and build friendship and connections.”

The community aspect is what continues to drive the program to raise funds for local kids. One such local kid, Brigs Page, joined the team on Saturday to see the gaming extravaganza up close and share why events like Extra Life mean a lot to him and benefit his care at UVM Children’s.

Shoutcaster MJ Rizzo ‘26, a Broadcast Media Production major at Champlain, hypes up the Overwatch Blue teams on Saturday, November 11, during Extra Life.

“My pump is a little device attached to my body that gives me insulin to help me have just a normal life as a kid,” Brigs told WCAX, explaining that he visits the hospital every couple weeks to manage his diabetes.

“Gaming has done a lot for him to feel included and successful at something,” added his mother.

Speaking of success: Eight teams within the Champlain Esports Program are headed into playoffs, a handful of which are the top seeds in their divisions. Be sure to tune in and cheer them on!

Students share why the Extra Life event is meaningful to them.

“Celebrating our success in the Extra Life event goes beyond just acknowledging our fundraising achievement; it’s a reflection of our program’s core values,” says Director of Champlain Esports Christian Konczal. “By hosting this event, we’ve created a platform where passion for gaming intersects with social responsibility. This initiative not only impacts the lives of children in need but also reinforces our commitment to harnessing the positive power of esports for community engagement and charitable causes.”

“It’s moments like these that truly define us, not just as gamers, not just as Champs, but as compassionate members of our community united for a greater cause,” Konczal adds.

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