September 16, 2021 Fran LeFort
Washtenaw Community College students will be streaming for good as they host a week-long Esports event October 3-9 to raise money to purchase gaming devices for patients at the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
The Wolfpack Esports Week #StreamForMott is free to join and will feature gamers streaming from throughout the country who’ll dedicate their play time to the event and encourage their followers to donate.
WCC has partnered with MissionControl.gg to host a seven day Rocket League tournament. All participants will be invited to communicate through the popular Discord app on the #StreamForMott channel. A full calendar of gaming streams throughout the week will be updated on the Wolfpack Esports Week #StreamforMott website.
Net proceeds will purchase new Starlight Nintendo Switch Gaming Stations, each priced at $5,000, for Mott children and families to enjoy during their hospital stay.
Molly Clayton describes Mott’s therapeutic gaming program as a “miracle” intervention, bringing joy to her 6-year-old son, Will, during his weekly chemotherapy treatments for brain cancer.
After Will’s diagnosis at the age of 4, Molly and Will began the regular trips from their Grosse Ile home for treatment of the inoperable tumor through a port in Will’s chest.
“We were asking this little guy to do this terrifying thing. It was extremely traumatic for him and for me,” Clayton said. “I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would be thankful for video games. But when kids are going through the worst possible thing you can imagine you do whatever it takes to help them get through that.”
Mott patient technology specialist Andrew Gabanyicz is a current Washtenaw Community College student who has formed a special bond with Will.
“The first week when Andrew came in with the cart they sat and played together and our entire life changed. It was like a dream to have not one day of crying and begging. During our second week Will ran down the hall and jumped on the gurney and I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
Gabanyicz, a second-year Health Program Preparation student at WCC, began playing with children at Mott as a contractor through an after-school program and was soon hired as a hospital employee through a grant. His work has inspired him to pursue a bachelor’s degree to become a recreational therapist and use tools such as gaming technology.
Deidre Kraft and her 7-year-old son Xander (right) of Taylor have also gotten to know Gabanyicz well through the program. Xander is undergoing treatment for stage 4 Neuroblastoma cancer.
“When Andrew first came in, Xander just lit up and I could see the normal kid in his eyes. It was like he didn’t not feel good anymore. Now every time we go there that’s all he talks about,” Kraft said.
“Any little type of normalcy you can have in a hospital, because nothing in the hospital is normal, it definitely makes my mom-heart happy. It’s a great program and it really does help with the treatment, even if it just gives kiddos an hour of distraction and fun to help them not realize they are a cancer kid,” Kraft said.
The fundraising event goal is to purchase as many carts as possible for even more Mott children to enjoy.
In addition to Gabanyicz, three other of Mott’s patient technology team members who manage the carts and engage with patients are WCC alumni.
“It’s us with 350 kids in the hospital. We provide therapeutic and recreational gaming interventions for socialization and provide fun. We’ll be in there and the next thing you know kids are playing Mario Kart with their doctor or phlebotomist. I am absolutely amazed by it all,” said Connor Rivera, patient technology project manager. Rivera graduated from WCC in 2013 with a Liberal Arts Transfer associate degree (psychology and communication focus) and a Healthcare Foundations certificate before transferring to Eastern Michigan University, where he graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree (dual major in psychology and women’s & gender studies).
Esports is a burgeoning area at WCC, which offers a new online Esports industry business course, an Esports scholarship internship worth $3,380 per semester and a growing Esports intramural program hosting monthly tournaments, casual gaming events and drop-in play for five sports.
WCC also offers a 3D Animation Arts Associate in Applied Science degree and a 3D Animation Certificate, popular with Esport enthusiasts looking to translate their favorite pastime into a thriving career.
“I am so proud of our students and the WCC team for their big ideas and even bigger hearts," said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca. "They’ve been working hard to make our first-ever Esport fundraiser a success to help lift the spirits of children and families at Mott Hospital.”
Gamers of all ages and ability levels are invited to become an Esport athlete and register to stream their favorite video game, create a fundraising account or compete in the weeklong Rocket League Tournament.
All player registrations, as well as one-time donations and sponsorships may be completed through the Wolfpack Esports Week #StreamforMott website.
Prizes will be announced throughout the week and awarded to participants.