Honors and COS student turns love of online gaming into charity fundraiser

Healy Grant turned her love of online role-playing into a way to help those in need.

Grant, a junior in the Irvin D. Reid Honors College and a Community of Scholars student, raised $650 dollars for St. Jude Children's Hospital by hosting an online event and tournament through World of Warcraft called "Carnival of the Sun."

Healy Grant
Healy Grant

Carnival of the Sun was created after Grant and two fellow online Horde of Moonguard players, Moranai and Zrya'lith, began discussing the potential of doing an in-real-life money donation event after a Valentine's Day themed event raised more than two-million gold (in game currency). The group came to a general consensus pretty quickly that St. Jude Children's Hospital would be the perfect charity for the event.

"St. Jude Children's Hospital is a really helpful thing here in Detroit…and they always make sure that no matter what the child's religion is, no matter what the their nationality is, what their sexuality is, no matter the socioeconomic status of their parents, that child doesn't have to pay anything to receive the treatment they need," Grant said. "So it is a very deserving charity. It costs about two million per day to keep it open, so they exist solely by charities like us."

The event was held during the weekend of March 22nd and 23rd in order to coincide with Mardi-Gras. The first night of the event featured tournaments and mini-games for prizes, while the second night featured a ball.

According to Grant, there were enough players taking part on the first night to cause a server phase (where one zone of World of Warcraft reaches player capacity and spills over on another server). She added there weren't any issues the second night because the ball was held in a discreet location in the game where they had a larger zone capacity. "It was also really nice to see that our winners from the first night attended the second, so…we were able to properly give them an in-game shout out rather than just in the chat room," Grant said.

This isn't the first time Grant has seen the online-community come together to raise funds for a good cause. In a previous experience working as a social media manager for Tournament of Ages, a gaming group within World of Warcraft, the group donated $2,600 for Direct Relief, an organization that works towards bringing medical equipment and supplies to children overseas.

Grant added that she has already received numerous questions from the online community about holding the event again, which she is planning on doing.

"Often, people think of gamers as unmotivated or lazy, but when you find a community of people and interact with them, you will find that the good usually outnumbers the bad," she said. "The Moonguard community is a vocal group of players who are very motivated in telling stories. By finding a reputable charity and uniting it with an in-game story, we were able to drum up support to help children with cancer."

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