Nerd News: Nerds heading charitable causes

Nerd-organized charities are popping up in Michigan, showing that some people really do care about their fellow geeks. I’ve had the fortune to be part of two charities in northern Michigan this year — Gaming for a Cure and Fight Like a Jedi — both aimed at raising funds to help those in need.

Gaming for a Cure is an annual event aimed at donating funds to help cure cancer. The focus of the event is tabletop gaming. For those of you who aren’t familiar, that means Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer and even card games like “Magic: The Gathering.”

Five bucks at the door gets you in to play whatever games you want all day. Both a silent and live auction also take place featuring games, miniatures, books and art. All of the proceeds go to cancer research. The organizer and founder, Jodie Brandt, started the event in 2006 after losing a close friend to cancer.

Since then, Gaming for a Cure has grown into a focal point for cancer research and awareness in northern Michigan.

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by a close friend of mine, Rob Humphrey, in regards to grave news. A young boy named Matthew Litchfield, who struggles with primordial dwarfism, was also diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. Rob is a close friend of Matthew’s family after meeting them at Traverse City’s Cherry Capital Convention.

Rob knew of Matthew’s love of the Star Wars franchise, so he decided to reach out to his artist friends to organize a benefit sketchbook. Many of the artists are personal friends of mine and, needless to say, we all jumped on board. Rob quickly gathered the art pieces and assembled them into a sketchbook to serve as a fundraiser to help the family.

The event snowballed, quickly gathering attention from both nerds and non-nerds looking to help. An event was organized at Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City, where hundreds of people gathered on Dec. 16 to support Matthew. With the live and silent auctions, sketchbooks and donations, Fight Like a Jedi (named after the sketchbook) was able to raise almost $15,000 to help Matthew and his family.

Now that we’ve all survived both the supposed apocalypse and Christmas, I want to urge you to do one thing — make a New Year’s resolution to donate in 2013.

There are people out there who need help from their fellow nerds. I can speak from personal experience that being a part of these events, no matter how small, is truly an inspiring feeling. If you are looking to donate to Matthew Litchfield, information is below:

There is an account set up at Members Credit Union to collect donations for Matthew. Checks can be made out to Fight Like A Jedi.
Please notate in the memo section of your check “for deposit,” and mail to:

Fight Like A Jedi
c/o Members Credit Union
PO Box 795
Traverse City, MI 49685

Matthew’s parents are the only people who have access to remove funds from the account, so rest assured that all the money will go straight to them.

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