ELMIRA — As part of National Video Games Day on Saturday, Sept. 12, the Elmira College esports team raised $2,000 to benefit American Red Cross Disaster Relief efforts. Jacob Willcox, of Fulton, was one of the participating students.
The Soaring Eagles ranked among the leaders on the crowdfunding website, Tiltify, which has raised over $44,000 to support various American Red Cross campaigns. Elmira is one of only three groups to collect at least $2,000 for the Disaster Relief fund, tied for second-most behind gaming influencer Alanah Pearce, also known by her gamertag, Charalanahzard.
According to the American Red Cross, the charitable organization assists nearly 30,000 people per day and helps families affected by disasters such as house fires, wildfires, hurricanes, or floods once every eight minutes. EC’s director of esports, Zack Ciaramitaro ‘14, was excited to see the Soaring Eagles surpass their initial goal of $300 nearly sevenfold.
“I am extremely proud of our team for raising $2,000 in under five hours this past Saturday,” Ciaramitaro exclaimed. “The funds raised will make an immediate impact for those affected by disasters, such as the recent hurricanes as well as the wildfires on the West Coast. The support we received was nothing short of incredible. Thank you, again, to everyone that donated and shared our stream on social media. You made an impact, and for that, our team is very grateful.”
Several members of the esports team participated by streaming their competitions on Fortnite, League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Valorant, including Cade Herold ‘22, Torin Nethaway ‘22, Joe Coppola ‘23, Nate Schwartz ‘21, Joel Serrano III ‘21, Jordan Rawn ‘23, Jacob Willcox ‘22, David Field ‘22, Keion Safargar ‘21, Ryan Hardy ‘23, Evan Mendoza ‘21, Colin Conklin ‘23, Hailey Halse ‘22, Sienna Fleury ‘21, Ryan Ossit ‘22, Jourdan Plaisted ‘21, Jared Money ‘22, Joe Morrone ‘22, and Joshua Agresta ‘22.
“It was important to participate in the Red Cross fundraiser because it was a big chance for a small program at a small school to do something big and help out those affected by disasters,” Cade Herold ‘22 said. “Seeing the team and the community come together for a great cause was really inspiring, and the fact that we raised $2,000 was amazing considering the size of our program. The players and the community stepped up in a huge way and showed everyone that despite being small, we can make big change, and hopefully that inspires more people to donate to charity and just overall to look out for your fellow neighbor.”
Ciaramitaro also commended softball student-athlete Bianca Palese ‘21, president of Elmira’s Red Cross Club, for her work behind the scenes to organize the Gamers vs. Disasters event. According to Palese, the money raised by the Soaring Eagles is enough to provide up to 10 families with a full day of food, shelter, comforts kits, and other necessities.
“As the president of the Red Cross Club, I wanted to get as many people on campus excited about the Red Cross and kick off the year with a fun event that supports the organization during these times where their services are particularly critical,” Palese said. “Thanks to the esports players, Red Cross volunteers, and everyone who donated.”