November 4, 2015

Former Sick Kid Gives Back Through 24-Hour Gaming Marathon

Few people understand the need for a children’s hospital in Saskatchewan better than Melissa Klassen. Her own experience has inspired her to take part in Extra Life, the 24-hour gaming marathon supporting children’s hospitals across North America, including the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan.

Melissa has an extremely rare form of muscular dystrophy. The 26-year-old from Rapid View is, in fact, the only person in Saskatchewan with Myotubular Myopath. The condition affects 50% of her skeletal muscles and causes severely weakened muscle tone. As a result, Melissa has a serious case of scoliosis and has been in a power wheelchair since she was four years old.

Melissa’s brother Jon introduced her to Extra Life in 2012. Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $14 million for local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Melissa and Jon have raised $1,000 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan to date.

“Video games have been an extremely positive experience for me,” explains Melissa, who will participate in Extra Life this weekend for the third year in a row. “Aside from the social aspect, they’ve helped me hone my reaction times and strengthen my hands.”

The youngest of five kids, Melissa and her parents have made countless six-hour round trips to Saskatoon for care.  As an adult, her visits to hospital are less frequent, but Melissa says her condition and rural location can be isolating.

“Gaming has been and continues to be very important to me. I even consider it lifesaving,” says Melissa, a self-proclaimed PlayStation Fan Girl. “It allows me to escape my sometimes scary and sometimes boring life. Since being in a wheelchair full-time makes going to hang out with friends difficult, and living rural makes having friends come over difficult, gaming online has opened my world exponentially. I have friends who I game with all over the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, and all the way to South Africa.”

Donate to Melissa’s Extra Life fundraising page at:

Melissa Klassen

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