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Children’s Hospital Inspires Former Champion to Game

Extra Life Saskatchewan will have the distinction of welcoming a former Champion to help raise funds during the 24 hour worldwide online gaming fundraiser November 3rd and at a games event on November 17th at TCU Place in Saskatoon.

Aidan Bohle was named the Saskatchewan ambassador for the Champions Program presented by Walmart Canada in 2014. The program honours remarkable children who have triumphed despite severe medical challenges. Now 16, Bohle said the ability to participate in his favourite hobby and raise funds to support the new children’s hospital was a win-win.

“Playing video games is such a huge part of me. I have been gaming since I was very young. I am also interested in participating because it is for a good cause.”

Bohle was chosen for the Champions program because of his diagnosis at age five of a very aggressive, recurrent tumor in his right ear called a cholesteatoma. A specialist in Saskatoon removed the tumor four times but it continued to return. Aidan was eventually referred to Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary for subsequent surgeries.

In 2016, Aidan went for an assessment and trial to see if he would be a good candidate for a conductive hearing implant. But with all the hospitalizations and surgeries over the years, his mom Tami says he has put it off.

“For now, he just isn’t interested in more surgery and is waiting for slightly improved technology so he can control the device with his phone.”

In June Aidan was diagnosed with Bilateral Renal Hypoplasia, a condition which means his smaller than average-sized kidneys have less filters to do the work they need to do.

Despite his new diagnosis, Aidan still lives the life of a typical 16-year-old teenager, watching and participating in sports, playing his favourite video games and socializing with family and friends. He continues to fundraise for Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation by participating in the annual Children’s Hospital Radiothon and Dairy Queen Miracle Treat Day, a North American-wide fundraising event for Children’s Miracle Network.

Nolan Blackstock, captain of the Extra Life Saskatchewan Guild, is excited to have Bohle involved.

Aidan in 2014 as Champion

“Four years ago he was the spokeskid for the work that is currently being done for the children’s hospital,” said Blackstock. “Now he is able to help our fundraiser, thanks to the support he has received as ambassador. The positive interest he has as a young teenager in Saskatchewan will go full circle in helping our event.”

Blackstock is no stranger to fundraising through Extra Life. For the past two years he has participated in Extra Life United. Part celebration, part tournament, the three day event allows gamers from across the globe to compete for $150,000 in prize pool money for local children’s hospitals. Blackstock was the only Saskatchewan representative and one of seven Canadians who took part. To date, he has raised over $7000.

It’s a fun way to get involved in a charity event that doesn’t fit the traditional fundraiser model because many are based on appealing to adults, said Blackstock.

“Extra Life is a way for young people to learn leadership skills in terms of organizing a team together and building community spirit within their group of friends.”

According to Tami, over the years Aidan’s childhood friends wanted to help but didn’t know how. She said Extra Life gives them that opportunity.

Aidan, who has had his Extra Life fundraising page up for just one week, already surpassed his original fundraising goal of $500 and has increased it to $700.

Blackstock said his wish for Extra Life in Saskatchewan is to expand guild membership and hold events across Saskatchewan, including Regina, Moose Jaw, Yorkton and Swift Current.

“The children’s hospital doesn’t just serve Saskatoon, it serves the entirety of Saskatchewan,” said Blackstock. “I know geography can sometimes be a barrier but we also want to be able to accommodate anyone in the province who wants to participate and join the guild.”

To learn all the details about the biggest local gaming event of the season, taking place in Saskatoon on November 17, please visit pattisonchildrens.ca/extralife.

To start your own fundraising for Extra Life, please visit www.extra-life.org. You can join an already established team or create one of your own.   

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