Why I Participate in Extra Life

Extra Life

A few years ago, I was the Director of Marketing for Emagination Computer Camps. As part of my job, I was looking for ways to increase the reach of our brand while keeping faithful to our mission to “Educate, entertain, and help develop healthy kids.” In my search, I came across a charity event called Extra-Life.

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Extra-Life is a 24-hour gaming marathon in early November which raises money for hospitals in the Children’s Miracle Network. At first glance, this looked like the perfect organization to get involved with because it was an opportunity to fulfill that last part of our mission statement – to help develop healthy kids – outside of the summer camp season.

However, after completing the first year of this event with some co-workers, my mother (who graciously donated to the cause) pointed something out to me which I hadn’t thought about in a long time and made me even more grateful that I became an Extra-lifer: I’m alive today because of the Children’s Miracle Network.

I don’t really think about it much anymore. I don’t know if that’s because it happened so long ago, because I can’t see the scars anymore, or because at such a young age I was naive to what was going on. Regardless, the previous statement isn’t any less true. I owe my life to the doctors at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine.

Before I tell you this story, I want to emphasize that what I went through was NOT close to the seriousness of anything some of the young children at CMN hospitals have gone through. In fact, I almost didn’t want to tell this story at all because, quite honestly, the story of my illness and my recovery do not do justice to the courage, bravery, and perseverance of the young boys and girls who battled, and overcame their illnesses.

But this is my story. This is why I do Extra-Life.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was at the time, but I do remember it was close to Christmas in my 7th-grade year (so I was around 13).

Our house was full of family, friends, and neighbors. Christmas carols played through the stereo speakers in the living room. The red, green, yellow, and blue lights twinkled on the Christmas tree as a light powdery snow slowly fell to the ground. In other words, it was the perfect Christmas setting you’d expect from a Hallmark special.

Everything was going well. We had good food, I was playing with my friends, and everyone was full of Christmas cheer. Later in the evening – I don’t think it was too late because most people were still there – I began to feel sick to my stomach. It wasn’t a nauseous feeling, it was more of a sharp pain in my lower stomach. I excused myself from the party and went upstairs to my room to go to bed, thinking it would pass.

To give you a little bit more back story, the party happened on a Sunday and we weren’t out of school yet for winter break so the next day I was supposed to go to school. Most years going to school wasn’t a big deal, I love learning and I enjoy school (for the most part). However, my 7th-grade year was not a very kind year for me – but that’s a whole other story!

The next morning I woke up feeling 100%. This sucks! I thought. I didn’t want to go to school. Like, I really didn’t want to go to school. So, being the little twerp that I was, when my mother asked me how I was feeling, I told her I still didn’t feel well. I often refer to this as the little white lie which saved my life.

My mom didn’t make me go to school that day. Winning! Instead, she brought me to the hospital fearing that it could be appendicitis. The doctor felt around my abdomen and couldn’t identify anything wrong so he sent me home. I spent the rest of the day playing Nintendo 64 and lounging in bed.

Fast forward to the second morning, post-party. “How are you feeling?” my mom asked. “still not good!” I replied – I lied. Did I mention I really didn’t want to go to school?

Worried, my mom took me back to the doctor. This time they decided to take a scan my abdomen to see what was going on. The next thing I remember I was being hooked up to IV’s (which is another horror story for another day) and getting prepped for surgery. Apparently, my timid little appendix decided he was going to go and hide behind my intestines so no one could find him.

As a fairly timid person myself, I won’t judge my appendix for wanting to shut himself off from the world. However, during this little hide-and-go-seek game of his, he managed to cut off his blood supply and turn gangrene. Jerk!

After I got out of surgery, the doctor who operated on me told me quite bluntly that I was lucky to be alive. Had I waited any longer to have it removed it probably would have ruptured and it would have probably killed me. I ended up spending a couple of weeks at the hospital before going home (I finally got a break from school, albeit not the one I wanted).

The rest of my story is pretty dull – I ended up graduating from middle and high school, going to college, having a successful career in the military, settling down to a dream job at Emagination, getting married to my high school sweetheart, and having an amazing son.

And I still have a lot more to do!

I hope you enjoyed my story. I certainly enjoyed telling it (but could have done without living it!). My story is just one of the thousands of success stories that come out of Children Miracle Network hospitals every single day. By donating to Extra-Life you can help write another child’s success story.

Please take a moment to take a look at my fundraising page. If you can donate $1, $100, or something in between, please do so. 100% of the money I raise will go directly to help kids at the Boston Children’s Hospital.

Thank you for taking the time to read and donate!

Published by Tim Koster

Tim Koster is an American author who was born and raised in Portland, Maine. After graduating from Deering High School, Tim attended Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, where he studied English with an emphasis on creative writing. In his junior year, Tim enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve as a public affairs specialist and deployed on two combat missions – his first was to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn (2011) and his second was to Syria in Support of Operation Inherent Resolve (2018). Tim currently lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.

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