MDA Let’s Play Uses Gaming to Raise Funds for Neuromuscular Disorders

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by Marta Figueiredo PhD |

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MDA Let's Play

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) is launching MDA Let’s Play, a platform to raise funding and awareness about muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular disorders through gaming.

“We’ve always been an iconic American charity with innovative fundraising programs to achieve our mission of transforming lives — from the telethon to pinup campaigns and now gaming,” Lynn O’Connor Vos, MDA’s president and CEO, said in a press release.

“The communities we serve, our volunteers and partners are involved in gaming and it gives them independence and freedom and joy to have fun and connect with friends online,” she added.

The first “Game-a-thon” streaming event will take place Sunday, March 15, from 1–7 pm EST, and will be hosted by a Twitch influencer, Wade — known as Minion777 on Twitch and LordMinion777 on YouTube.

This open event, which will be streamed around the world at MDAletsplay.org, will feature games, special guests, and audience participation, as well as donation incentives to support MDA’s mission to transform the lives of people affected by muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other neuromuscular disorders. The event’s goal is to raise $7,500.

“We’re using gaming as a medium to bring people together to both raise awareness and raise money for a great cause,” said Wade.

“Gaming is a way to connect people to real-world issues and in the past few years has cultivated entirely new audiences in support of great causes like MDA. My hope is that this stream will continue that trend,” he added.

Within the new platform, MDA will also host “Game Nights,” in which gamers around the world can “get together” online, have fun, and raise awareness and funding.

The first MDA Game Night, an all Fortnite event, will take place on Saturday, March 21, from 7–10 pm EST. To participate, gamers must join the MDA Let’s Play Discord. Friends and family can follow along on the MDA Twitch channel.

Besides its fundraising component (facilitated through links in the stream), Game Night is designed to build a stronger community among MDA families across the U.S.

MDA will also be attending major E-Sports events this year, including this weekend’s CEO Dreamland, Combo Breaker in May, and CEO Fighting Championships in June, where it will be selling MDA Shamrocks.

All the funds raised will be invested in research, MDA’s network of more than 150 care centers, and programs such as MDA Summer Camp for children with neuromuscular diseases, at no cost to their families.

So far, the association has invested more than $1 billion into research to accelerate the discovery of therapies and cures, which has already contributed to nine approved treatments in the U.S. in the past five years.

MDA’s most well-known fundraising platform was the televised Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, which for decades helped raise awareness and funds for muscular dystrophy on Labor Day weekend.