Healing kids while playing games. That’s the icing on the cake for Amber Gillespie.
As a Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) at UC Davis Miracle Maker, Amber, aka “OneCakeLady”, does what she loves and loves what she does – gaming! By volunteering through Extra Life, Amber uses her passion to raise money to fund important programs, health care services, pediatric medical equipment and groundbreaking research at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.
Extra Life unites thousands of players around the world to fundraise and game in support of local CMN Hospitals. Amber has been a long-time supporter of the Extra Life program, but only recently decided to make it her own platform, helping sick and injured children in the hospital, while also supporting other kids and teens online who need an adult role model and cheerleader.
Q: How long have you been involved with Children’s Miracle Network at UC Davis? What has your involvement looked like over time?
AG: I got involved through Extra Life, an online gaming community that raises money for CMN Hospitals. A friend of mine has participated in Extra Life gaming marathons for years and I always supported his efforts. Last year, I decided to give it a try myself. It sounded like a way to do something I enjoy (playing games) while helping a great cause.
After my 24-hour marathon in 2018, I connected with a group of volunteers in Sacramento and decided to do more than just marathons. I began working with the Sacramento Extra Life Guild to plan more local events so we could make an even bigger difference!
Q: There are so many good causes. Why did you choose to support UC Davis Children’s Hospital?
AG: I chose to support UC Davis Children’s Hospital because it is my local CMN hospital. I love that the money raised stays here. Every dollar helps area kids and their families.
Q: What is your favorite memory while supporting UC Davis Children’s Hospital?
AG: I was honored to attend Children’s Hospital Week and Extra Life United this year. The most memorable experience for me was meeting the CMN Champion kids and their families. Their zest for life, positive attitude and desire to give back humbled and inspired me. I heard again and again from the kids and their parents how fortunate they felt. How they know others have it worse than they do and so they just want to help. It blew me away and will stick with me for the rest of my life. Those interactions encouraged me to do more to help kids and families I will never meet. I am proud to be a representative for UC Davis Children’s Hospital’s Extra Life team.
Q: How has being involved with UC Davis Children’s Hospital changed your life? Your family’s life?
AG: After I returned home from Children’s Hospital Week, I shared my experiences with my family. My son, who is 13 and has autism, declared that he wanted to help the kids, too! He was so inspired that he started his own Extra Life campaign.
Q: What motivates you as a volunteer?
AG: I believe volunteering is an important aspect of life. My faith is a big motivator. I believe we are meant to help those around us and not live a selfish life. Here’s the irony, though. I get more out of volunteering than I give.
Another big reason I wanted to get involved with Extra Life and volunteer for CMN Hospitals is because I wanted to set an example for the teens and young adults I work and play with daily. Many of these young people are ill themselves or have difficult family lives and often, they feel useless or worthless. Extra Life gives everyone a chance to make a positive difference in the lives of others and it’s amazing how even a small success, gives them a feeling of accomplishment. It helps restore a feeling of self-worth. So, by volunteering in this way, I hope to lead by example.
Q: What do you think about every time you volunteer for UC Davis Children’s Hospital?
AG: Helping kids at UC Davis Children’s Hospital is fun and fulfilling and, although it may sound cliché, volunteering is incredibly rewarding. I have never regretted a single second.