When a Southeast Texas teen was in the fight of her life against an aggressive leukemia, people from all around the world began sending her video games to play in the hospital bed. That special girl, Victoria Enmon, passed away in 2008, but her legacy lives on through a fundraiser connecting gamers with sick children.
Looking through years of pictures, it is not possible to find one of Victoria without a smile on her face. "She was amazing," said her father, Victor, "I don't know how she did it."
At 11 years old, Victoria was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. "It just still seems like yesterday," said Victor, recalling that difficult day.
It was a diagnosis that stopped the Enmon family from Orange, Texas in its tracks. "I just couldn't tell her," said mother, Jo Ellen, "so they (hospital staff) walked in and told her and she cried and that was the only time that we saw Victoria cry in four years."
For four years, Victoria bravely fought this blood cancer with chemo and a bone marrow transplant. Her lengthy stay at Texas Children's Hospital sparked an idea with a Houston radio DJ named "Doc," to have people send her video games to play in the hospital bed. "Before we knew it, the games started arriving," said Jo Ellen. "I mean it was a big box," said Victor, "hundreds."
Those games helped to keep Victoria smiling in her final months. With that as inspiration, a fundraiser called "Extra Life" was launched to help raise money for sick children just like her through Children's Miracle Network. "You play video games. Play board games with your family. Make a family game day out of it," said Chuck O'Connor with CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital and CMN.
For 24 hours, gamers like Sammy Hayes in Lake Charles who lost his dad to leukemia, will play around the clock with the financial backing of sponsors for CMN. "I felt an immediate connection with Victoria's story," said Hayes, "so it was something that I had to do. I got online, registered and went from there."
Gamers in Southwest Louisiana can help support local miracle kids by selecting CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital as a recipient, the area's only CMN hospital. "Every dollar that's raised stays here in Southwest Louisiana," said O'Connor, "we can't do what we do without the support of the community."
It is support that means so much to families, like the Enmons, sharing hope in the midst of trials. "We are just thrilled that her legacy can help other children," said Victor.
This Saturday, Oct. 20 is the official Extra Life day from 8 a.m. Saturday morning until 8 a.m. Sunday morning. Click here to register.
*Extra Life is an ongoing fundraiser, so if you cannot play this weekend, you can select another date.