One Year Later: The Legacy and Impact of Zeldathon Hope

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It’s been one year since Zeldathon Hope raised more than $250,000 for our nonprofit through a 150-hour Legend of Zelda charity gaming marathon. We are still experiencing the far-reaching impact of that support. Instead of just hearing about the impact from us in general terms, we’d like you to hear about some of the individuals who were directly affected by Zeldathon Hope in 2016.

Donations to Zeldathon Hope aided these individuals in a time of extreme need. Names have been changed to preserve confidentiality.


Zeldathon Hope Helped a Family to Support Chronically-Ill Children


Twelve-year old Annie was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease, a rare, chronic and progressive illness, with no identifiable cause. Her family learned that she would need a lung transplant to survive. Soon after, they found out that Annie’s twin sister, Erika, would also need to join the lung transplant waiting list.

The diagnoses were devastating for Annie’s family. With difficulty gaining and maintaining weight, Annie had to begin tube feeding to stay alive as she waited for a transplant. Less than one year after she was diagnosed, she became reliant on supplemental oxygen to breathe. Annie and her family had to endure regular inpatient hospital admissions, IV treatments, and consistent outpatient therapy to keep her alive.

The finances related to both Annie and Erika’s care soon became a crushing burden. Already coping with limited finances to support two children, the family had to cover out-of-pocket expenses including:

  • $1,500 monthly mortgage payments
  • $2,500 additional monthly expenses before added health care costs
  • $250 per month for medications just to keep Annie’s new lungs healthy post-transplant
  • Plus, the high cost of regular medical appointments, associated travel and temporary relocation expenses

Annie and Erika’s mother had to leave her job to care for her daughters; their father soon realized caring for his ill children would require him to miss work frequently, resulting in lost income that would further damage the family’s finances. How would this already struggling family cover the cost of care that would save their daughters’ lives?

That’s when Zeldathon Hope donations became a HelpHOPELive Emergency Grant, which covered vital but uninsured medical and related expenses for the family so that they could focus on caring for their precious twins. The support we received through the gaming marathon prevented this family falling into severe debt just to care for Annie and Erika.


Zeldathon Hope Kept Hope Alive for a Devoted Father


Christian was barely making ends meet for his family when he received a shocking diagnosis: end-stage kidney disease. To cope with his condition, Christian had to take 6 weeks off work, time he couldn’t afford as he strove to provide for his 3-year-old and 6-year-old children.

As he fought to stay alive long enough to receive a kidney transplant, Christian was approved for disability benefits that amounted to just half of his regular salary. He received a lifesaving transplant, but found himself crushed under the weight of out-of-pocket costs to keep his new kidney healthy, including:

  • $900 monthly rent payments
  • A monthly insurance premium over $180
  • Monthly non-medical but related expenses exceeding $2,000
  •  $80 per month in vital anti-rejection medications
  • Regular travel and co-pays for doctor visits

Zeldathon Hope donations made possible an emergency grant to help Christian offset uninsured costs. Without the generosity of the gaming community, Christian may not have been able to afford post-transplant medications that have kept his kidney viable and his health stable.

Christian’s goal today? To become healthy enough to return to work so he can personally provide for his family.


Zeldathon Hope Relieved the Burden for a Selfless Living Donor


Takesha’s close friend needed a lifesaving transplant. Takesha made the selfless decision to give the gift of life to her friend. While her living donation was successful and her friend was able to unlock a healthier life post-transplant, Takesha experienced unexpected health complications related to her donation.

Though Takesha’s medical expenses were covered by her friend’s medical insurance, she was forced to miss multiple days of work in order to attend follow-up appointments to manage her post-donation complications. She found herself trapped in dire financial circumstances as a result of her compassionate decision.

“She is a very caring and sweet person,” wrote Takesha’s medical provider about her household. “They are running out of money. She has had lost wages due to her gift of life.”

That’s when Zeldathon Hope donations covered the cost of Takesha’s rent payments, making it possible for her to attend vital medical appointments and take care of herself without worrying about how she would make ends meet. The success of Zeldathon Hope made it possible for Takesha’s selfless choice not to result in a massive financial crisis.


Zeldathon Hope Made Post-Transplant Care Possible for a “Desperate” Recipient


Maya was looking forward to her new life post-transplant when she was hit with shocking news: in order to discharge from the hospital, she would have to cover an extremely expensive new prescription for one month. This medication would be mandatory for Maya to take in addition to the pricey anti-rejection medications she would already be required to take for the rest of her life.

With a monthly income of $2,100, Maya would be responsible for the out-of-pocket cost of 15 different medications per month! Her financial commitment was skyrocketing:

  • Monthly insurance premium exceeding $250
  • Monthly non-medical expenses over $2,000

Maya described herself as “desperate” as she faced the uncertainties of life after transplant with limited financial support. That’s when Zeldathon Hope donations became an emergency grant to save Maya’s life, helping to cover Maya’s mortgage payments so she could discharge from the hospital and maintain her health post-transplant.

Without the assistance of Zeldathon Hope, Maya would not have been able to afford mandatory post-transplant care. Maya says she is “beyond grateful” for your life-giving assistance.


We are exceptionally grateful for Zeldathon Hope and for the efforts made in the year that followed to raise funds and awareness for HelpHOPELive.


The support we received continues to provide emergency assistance grants to patients and families for whom our fundraising program is not an option, AND to spread our mission to a larger population of individuals who may need our help

No one should have to forgo lifesaving medical care or fall into bankruptcy because of their out-of-pocket medical expenses. Without the love and support of the Zeldathon community, Annie, Christian, Takesha and Maya may not have been able to survive their medical crises. Your donation may have saved a life.

From all of us, thank you for your support. Please share this post with anyone who may enjoy reading about the impact of last year’s unforgettable Zeldathon Hope charity experience.

If you would like to share your story as a Zeldathon Hope donor or participant, or tell us a little bit about why you chose to support Zeldathon Hope, please leave us a comment. We would love to hear from you.

To all of our friends at Zeldathon: we wish you great success as you kick off Day 1 of this year’s winter marathon Zeldathon Cures to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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