2022 DMAIG Alumni Fundraiser of the Year
While some may view a Nintendo 64 as simply a gaming device, others play with a deeper purpose.
Andrew Link, ‘15 Eng, grew up playing N64 games, from Mario Kart 64 to GoldenEye 007. In 2020, Andrew along with three friends, decided that, instead of playing for entertainment's sake, they would play to raise funds and awareness for those battling childhood cancer.
“[Me, Alex, John, and John] have diverse backgrounds and went to Penn State for different degrees, but it turns out that anyone can wake up with an idea that they are passionate about and put it into action,” Andrew said. “The Game-A-THON is proof of that.”
The Game-A-THON is a THON Nation livestream alumni engagement event where Penn State alumni play Nintendo 64 for 24 hours straight directly from the N64 console, and viewers and participants are invited to donate money for the players to perform fun tasks and challenges. Inspiration for the event name and content stems from Andrew’s involvement in the 46-hour Penn State Dance Marathon (THON™) during his time as a student in 2014 and 2015.
“In these two short years, I was able to witness the overwhelming passion for a greater cause run entirely by students. Unfortunately, this two-year tenure and involvement was not nearly enough time. I found myself wanting to do more, or give back, and wasn’t sure in which way to do so until I stumbled upon Penn State’s THON Nation alumni page, which helped make that process a lot easier,” Andrew said. “Ultimately, it is the selfless energy and effort that goes into Penn State THON year after year that truly guided me to choose Penn State THON as the beneficiary.”
Since its inception in 2020, the Game-A-THON has grown from a few local and familiar viewers to hundreds of unique viewers who tune in to the stream and participate in the full 24 hours — all For The Kids®.
“It began with us four participants wanting to share our enjoyment of the N64 with everyone else who thought it would be fun to watch us play,” Andrew said. “Our friend, Ben, has also stepped up to help support the digital art on the stream to create a sharp and sleek atmosphere for the viewers.”
After raising more than $1,400 in its first year, Game-A-THON raised upwards of $6,600 in 2021 and $7,300 in 2022.
In the spring following THON Weekend 2022, Andrew’s Game-A-THON was recognized as the DMAIG Alumni Fundraiser of the Year for the dedication, growth and success of the event.
“I was ecstatic,” Andrew said. “It was recognition that I, and the team, was not expecting at all. From being nominated to being awarded, what this means to me is proof that some ideas are meant to be invested into and shared with the world. If you have a good feeling about something, don’t just sit around and wait for anything to come to you. Go ahead and put yourself out there, talk about it and make something happen! After all, that’s how THON started in 1978.”
He continued, “The Game-A-THON is a mixture of my passion, the team's passion, and the participants' passion to ultimately serve a common goal to raise money to benefit critical research in pursuit of a cure for childhood cancer. We have learned so many lessons from creating this event and putting energy into it each year, and this award is the cherry on top. The award sits front and center on my desktop as a catalyst to keep moving it forward for years to come.”
Now Andrew’s sights are set on Game-A-THON’s goal for 2023 – raising $10,000.
Now that the team is no longer constrained to a one-bedroom apartment, they hope to host more people in-person and provide opportunities to participate in a live raffle, auctions, and prizes, and even play the games live on camera.
Andrew encourages anyone interested to follow the Game-A-THON pages for live updates and to tune into the stream.
“The overwhelming support from family, friends, coworkers and complete strangers (not strangers any more) who were inclined to participate in the overall experience has been amazing,” he said. “And on a personal note, I’ve realized the passion I have for this event, and the cause it benefits, is the main driver to continue this event year after year. This is something I look forward to and reflect upon year-round to provide a better event for the year ahead.”
Learn more and follow Game-A-THON: