Meadville Tribune

Local News

July 12, 2014

Charity marathon featuring Zelda gaming to benefit St. Jude's

Nearly week-long event organized by locals

Participants and organizers of Zeldathon, a charity-benefit gaming marathon centered on the popular Legend of Zelda franchise, are putting a new twist on their latest adventure to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The aptly named Zeldathon Adventure, which began Thursday afternoon, garnered around $18,000 in donations into Friday night.

Rather than rotating roughly 30 team members, with a number of them being Crawford County residents, to play and monitor donations for only a set number of days, the Zeldathon team is allowing donors to “unlock” additional gameplay at certain amounts, leading this year’s event to carry up to Wednesday, provided viewers continue to show support.

While the Meadville-area event's location is undisclosed for security reasons, the non-stop marathon is streamed live to a near-consistent several thousand viewers worldwide at zeldathon.net, where audience members can donate directly to the team’s current beneficiary, according to executive director Matthew Moffit, who lives in Meadville and grew up in Saegertown.

“We play one game at a time but usually run the entire series as well as a number of spin-off games and extensions of the franchise,” Moffit said.

To keep things entertaining, the Zeldathon crew offers witty banter and commentary, Moffit said, punctuated by the occasional silly task or challenge contingent on whether certain donation amounts are received throughout the marathon.

For instance, a flat donation of at least $1,000 or a collective $20,000 by the end of a certain game would inspire a team member to make a public appearance dressed as a recurring franchise character, the Great Fairy, as announced Thursday evening.

“I’ve been with the team since about the summer of 2010,” said Zeldathon team member Andrew Rice of Meadville. “They’re a great bunch of people to work with and it’s a great cause.”

Moffit’s team is comprised of several local participants as well as members from other countries, including Holland and the United Kingdom. The team has grown significantly over the past few years.

“This is the first time I’ve attended in person,” said Rob Clark, who flew into town from the London area earlier this week to help with technical aspects such as monitoring the online donation system which transfers funds directly to St. Jude. “I’m a big fan of the Zelda games and I think it’s a great idea, using them as an incentive. It’s something I’ve always wanted to get behind.”

Clark has assisted the team for about the past year and a half from the UK until his invitation to attend in person this year.

“I knew it was going to be a great time,” he said.

The Zeldathon team raised almost $55,000 during its last fundraiser for St. Jude, a five-day marathon held last December, according to Zeldathon assistant director Elizabeth Rice.

Zeldathon’s partnership with St. Jude helps kick off the hospital’s new project, PLAY LIVE, which features collaboration with the gaming community to raise money for the foundation, she reported.

This year’s goal is $75,000 with a lofty stretch goal of $100,000, but the crew that’s held about a dozen other marathons so far and collected more than $215,000 for organizations such as the American Cancer Society and American Red Cross believes it can work sufficient magic to pull it off.

The full $100,000 would enable the marathon to reach its maximum of six days through bonus game runs, Elizabeth Rice said in a press release.

Moffit described hitting approximately $2,000 within the event’s first two hours “on schedule” relative to the overall Zeldathon.

The highest estimated audience for a given Zeldathon at one point reached more than 4,000 viewers, Moffit said.

“We’re trying our best to improve our overall social media presence,” he said. “While our U.S. viewers sleep, we focus on our viewers in Europe and other areas to keep a balanced audience.”

You can help

Anyone interested in donating to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through Zeldathon Adventure can do so online at zeldathon.net, where the event can be viewed through live stream.

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