Clear Search

Fundraiser Friday: Gaming for a Cure

By BCRF | May 15, 2015

A Texas couple uses their love of video games to honor a lost loved one

Allison and her husband, David, were drawn to video games at a young age – this was one of the reasons why they fell in love and found careers in information technology. Now, the couple has decided to use their passion to help others. 

For 24-hours beginning May 23 at 9 a.m. ET, the pair will be gaming on to raise funds for BCRF. The cause is close to their hearts. In the fall of 2013, David’s mother, Mary, died of breast cancer. She was 52 years old.

Mary, who worked at a nursing home, had recently dedicated a significant amount of her time to healthy living when she was diagnosed. She had quit smoking and began exercising everyday – successfully losing weight and gaining muscle. Her life changed when her debilitating back pain was attributed to breast cancer that had spread to her lungs and bones.

We had a chance to speak with Allison and David about the impact breast cancer has had on their family, how gaming has helped them grieve and why breast cancer research is important to them.


Could you describe your family’s connection to breast cancer?

David’s mother, Mary, devoted her life to taking care of the elderly, working in rural nursing homes as a CNA. She wanted everyone to be happy and feel at home, even going as far as crocheting blankets for her patients or the children of fellow staff members, taking time out on her days off to hand-make Christmas decorations; anything she could do to bring someone a smile, she did without question.  

At 50, she had led a happy life and adored her granddaughter (our niece) but she didn’t feel as healthy as she once was and decided to make some major life changes to make herself happy.  She quit smoking after thirty years, started dieting, and started getting up at 5 a.m. or earlier every morning to exercise with her bootcamp group. She lost weight, gained muscle, and looked better than she had in over a decade.

And, just then, when she was at her happiest, she started having back pain at work. The pain was bad enough that she would have to take several breaks throughout the day, resting in empty beds for 10-minutes at a time to be able to make it through her shifts.  Something was wrong and she didn’t know what.  

David and I had heard that she wasn’t feeling well and had been by several times to cook David’s parents dinner and do anything we could to help them around the house until she could get in to see a doctor.

After a week or two, she was in such bad condition that she had to be hospitalized and was finally diagnosed with breast cancer.  By the time she was diagnosed it had already metastasized to her lungs and bones.  That was what was causing her the back pain, the fact that it was eating away at her spine and hips. They told David’s father how long she had, but they would not tell the rest of the family. They just said that every day was precious.

They moved her from the hospital to in-home hospice care within a week. She was in agony. She could not walk, dress herself, move to and from bed.  She had to sleep in a recliner in the living room and be placed on oxygen.  All that they could do for her was try to manage the pain, which seemed to grow with every passing day.

She had family and friends by her side, day and night. David’s father wouldn’t even leave the room to sleep, moving a sofa in next to the hospital bed they set up toward the end, so they could hold hands as they slept or tried to sleep.

Within three months of the time she was diagnosed, she was gone.  I wish I could say that she went peacefully, in her sleep; free from pain.  But she did not.

Breast cancer has affected our entire family to its depths. Our children will never know Mary or the happiness that she was able to bring to so many people, especially when they needed it the most.  

How did your love of gaming help you during this difficult time?

To help with grieving, David and I started a YouTube channel, playing video games and making silly videos of us having fun together. Soon, we were making friends on Twitter and streaming our gameplay live on Twitch.

We do not profit from the work we put into our channel, it is something that we do as both a creative outlet and a way to interact with people all over the world. It has truly been a blessing to us in the months following Mary’s passing, and the passing of Mary’s mother just a few short months later.

We have both wanted to do something in Mary’s memory. She helped so many people in her life and we wanted at least that part of her to live on through us. 

What inspired you to run a 24-hour gaming marathon?

It has been a year and a half since Mary’s passing. In her memory, we decided to host a 24-hour marathon event where we will be streaming live, playing video games for 24-hours straight, and hopefully encouraging our viewers to join our cause by donate to BCRF.  The purpose of which is to reach or exceed our fundraising goal within the 24-hour period.  This will be the first event of this type that we have hosted, but if things go well it certainly will not be our last.

What led you to support BCRF in particular? 

There were many charities we had researched and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation seemed like a match to our values.  There were other more well-known charities, but BCRF’s financial records speak for themselves. Not a lot of charities come close to that.

Why is breast cancer research important to you?

It was a terrible thing to see Mary suffer as much as she did for a disease that she could have been screened for in advance.

By support breast cancer research, we hope to help end this disease, so others will not have to endure the pain we have both seen and felt first-hand.

Breast cancer research gives us hope that while Mary suffered greatly and ultimately lost her life at the hands of this terrible disease, someone else’s mother, grandmother, spouse, daughter; any human being, might have the chance of never experiencing it.

To learn more about Allison and David’s fundraising event and to donate click here