Alec Jones was just your average teenager, dealing with what most teenagers deal with: school, homework and a part-time job. The last thing he expected was a cancer diagnosis, but it inspired him to do something positive. Alec held his own Zelda video game marathon to raise funds for charity.
“The first Zelda marathon I did on my own was inspired by my journey through chemo. During the process of battling cancer, I was privileged enough to have video games to keep my mind off the illness. I was young enough at the time to attend Sick Kids, yet old enough to choose not to go. I decided not to go to Sick Kids as it would not give me the ability to continue my studies at Brock during treatment.” said Alec.
The comforts of home during treatment was something that was not lost on Alec, and he knew that many other children were not as fortunate to have those same opportunities.
“After I was cured, I got to thinking about all the kids at Sick Kids that may not have the same distractions as I was lucky enough to have. It was then I decided to hold a fundraiser to get the children new and updated video games. The marathon went on for 7 straight days, with an hour or two in-between for me to shower and get a few minutes of rest. It was held at my work (pet valu) and I stayed there around the clock, other than cleaning up.” said Alec.
"After I was cured, I got to thinking about all the kids at Sick Kids that may not have the same distractions as I was lucky enough to have. "
A video game marathon is an event which runs around the clock, 24/7 until a set list of games has been completed. Typically, the event is broadcast online so that anyone can tune in and donate. Here’s the thing – marathons are usually a team effort. Alec decided to do this one solo.
” It was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. The first few days seemed to go by very easily but when I was coming upon the third day, I could feel my body was not running at full capacity. I took my bathroom and stretch breaks during the cut scenes which became more frequent as I got further into the franchise. I had to keep moving around not only to stay awake but also to stop my body from cramping up. I was also lucky enough to have a coffee shop near by and friends and family willing to bring me drinks and food.” said Alec.
Like all things, a life-changing event can often change a person’s perspective on things. The importance of the Zelda franchise to Alec was no exception.
“I have always been a Zelda fan for as long as I can remember but I have to say it was all timing. When I got sick, the Nintendo 3DS had just come out and I got Ocarina of Time 3D for the system. I played it while I was getting chemo and at home to pass the time. This game already had a nostalgic feeling for me but now it had a deeper meaning. I felt like it would also be a great series to do a marathon for because it was an eye-catching series that many people could relate with even if they were not a gamer.” said Alec.
Since 2009 a group called Penguins Marathons have been running an annual holiday Zelda Marathon in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Catharines, Thorold & District. They have raised over $80,000 through these video game marathon since they began. Alec would soon become the newest ‘Penguin’.
" I was super excited to hear that there was a group of people who were doing good with video games."
“I was introduced by a friend of mine who had been a long-time viewer of the Zelda BBBS marathons. I was super excited to hear that there was a group of people who were doing good with video games. I watched some of the Youtube videos that they had up, and I knew right away that these people were great.” said Alec.
“After I had watched a few videos and realized that this group was something I wanted to be a part of I decided to contact them. I contacted Adam who organizes the marathons and I game him my marathon history and asked if I would be able to be involved in some way or another. It wasn’t long before the next marathon came along, and I was invited to come join in.” continued Alec.
And how has that experience turned out for Alec?
"Honestly it has been one of the best experiences I have had. I was nervous going into a group that had been together for so long, but they welcomed me with open arms."
Every treated me as if I had been there since day one and made my first marathon so much fun that I asked if I could continue with the work they do. I have made some great friends that are now apart of my life and I could have asked for a better gaming family. Every year I am excited to see the next marathon schedule and reunite with my gaming family for a really good cause.” said Alec.
The Zelda Marathon 9 takes place on Friday, December 15th at 7 PM EST and can be viewed live at http://thezeldamarathon.com/
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