10 years of Extra Life

August 7, 2023

It's been nine years since my daughter, Olivia, was born prematurely and I set out on my first Extra Life campaign, playing video games for 24-hours to raise money for Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, where she was being treated.

Olivia passed away less than a week later, a little over nine weeks after being born. We were devastated.

I can't even explain how difficult the ensuing years were, as we tried desperately to have another child. We were finally blessed with Ryan in 2019 and again with Owen in 2022.

The hardest part for me about losing my daughter is thinking about what could have been. Seeing girls her age and wondering what she would have been like. How much she would have enjoyed being a big sister. Being with us on all of the adventures we've had. What kind of woman she might have grown to become.

I think about her every day.

So I've kept doing Extra Life every year to honor her memory. To give back to the hospital that kept her alive as long as they could. It's always bittersweet because on one hand Extra Life is a celebration, and on the other hand I can't help but wish she were with us, playing video games with me and her brothers to raise money to help other kids make sure they feel loved and happy while they're going through the hardest thing imaginable.

Mike sporting an Extra Life t-shirt and wearing nine gold medals around his neck.
Extra Life awards a gold medal for raising $1000+. Going for my 10th this year.

2023 marks my 10th year of doing Extra Life. Over that time, thanks to the generosity of hundreds of people, we've been fortunate to raise over $38,000 for Lurie Children's Hospital. Each year I'm humbled by the outpouring of love and support.

I'm particularly grateful to Bert Fanslow, who has done the entire 24-hour marathon with me each of the last 8 years, and Alan Spadoni who has popped in for a good strech in many of those years as well. And of course to my wife, Allie, who makes sure I stay hydrated and well-fed. Together, as Team Olivia, we have inspired people to help sick kids in need in Olivia's honor, which makes me really proud.

The past few years I've been doing a 12-hour stream on Olivia's birthday in addition to the full 24-hour marathon the first Saturday in November. This year, since Bert will be on his honeymoon, we've decided to do the full 24-hour marathon on Olivia's birthday, Saturday, August 26th, starting at 8am Central time.

I'll be streaming the entire day on Twitch if you'd like to pop in and offer words of encouragement or just hang out and watch us play some video games.

It's going to be a great time and I'm going to be having a raffle for some gaming related prizes for folks who donate, as well as matching contributions for part of the day.

If you'd like to join us in our effort to raise funds for children's hospitals (you can pick your own local hospital to support), you can visit our Extra Life team page and click the "Join Our Team" button. What a great excuse to play video games for 24 hours!

If you'd like to make a donation, you can do so on my Extra Life page or by clicking this button:


Any amount you can give is greatly appreciated. You can really help us out by sharing our campaign with your friends and family.

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to our cause over the years. It truly means a lot to me and my family.

I'm Mike Aparicio, Principal Design Systems Engineer at Turquoise Health. I'm interested in helping companies large and small improve collaboration between design and engineering through the use of design systems. I specialize in creating custom CSS frameworks that empower engineering teams to get from concept to production quickly, while writing little to no CSS themselves. I write about web design and development, video games, pop culture, and other things I find interesting. I live in the Chicago area with my wife, three sons, and two dogs.

You can find me on most places on the Internet as @peruvianidol.

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