From Conception to Convention Part 3: Extra Life 2012

The next entry in Marc Specter’s continuing column chronicling his journey to organizing a new gaming convention in Michigan:

I love listening to gaming podcasts (especially the one that is allowing me to use his blog).  I have about a dozen on my listening roster, and I was a fan of Cody & John before they retired their microphones.

About a year ago, they mentioned participating in Extra Life. Extra Life ( is a national initiative of gamers, gaming in support of their local children’s hospitals.  It is officially a video gaming initiative, but Cody & John did theirs as a tabletop gaming event.  The idea resurfaced this year just prior to a meeting that Brian and I were going
to have with our local independent bookseller, Schuler Books & Music (

Schuler had found out about us because one of their employees is a gamer, and they wanted an active group like the West Michigan Tabletop Gamers ( not only to be aware of their game inventory, but also to help make other gamers aware.

So we were sitting in that meeting, hammering out the details of an allience, when I looked over at their great space and popped the question.  No…they wouldn’t marry me, but they WOULD host our overnight game-a-thon.  (Or at least that was the conclusion they came to after a few weeks of decision-making.)  This would not only serve as a fantastic charitable event, but it could serve us as a sort of pre-convention, and put us in front of all of the gamers we were hoping to attract to our main event in less than a year.

Now that we had a place to be, it was up to Brian and I to spread the word and get things going.  I signed up Team GrandCon at the Extra Life site as a premium member, and that got us a t-shirt once we raised $200 in funds.

After that we needed to make people aware of the event, so we took to our Facebook page ( and Twitter Feed (GrandCon1) to spread the word.  The response was immediate and enthusiastic.  We continued to update as funds came in and as our simple initiative became an actual event.

We had peoples’ juices flowing and were creating an event they wanted to attend.  How could we make it even more memorable?  Since Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital was to be the beneficiary of our efforts, I called them up and talked to the individual in charge of Extra Life at the hospital.  After a meeting about a week later, they had promised to help us create color flyers as well as see about getting some food for the all-night gamers.  They came through with 200 color posters and flyers and 3 giant Subway party subs to keep us fed and gaming.

I was also able to reach out to a number of friends I have made in the gaming community, and we got a number of prizes donated to be used for participants who were raising funds and gaming.  All of those folks can be seen here (

We spent the next weeks blasing our personal Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and e-mail soliciting donations.  I am also lucky enough to work for a company that supports my personal efforts, and I got permission from them as well as one of our partners to solicit donations while at an onsite event.  We also collected donations at the event itself.

Not having done this before, and having no idea what to expect, I had set a team goal of $1000.  When all was said and done, we BLEW THAT AWAY.  As of today our total stand at $3117.40.  If I understand their stats correctly, that makes us the #1 team in our area and #108 nationally.  Not bad for our first time…

To toot our horn, it was a fair effort to put all of this together in just a few months.  But everyone came through admirably, and the results show.  In putting together GrandCon, one of the things that Brian and I agreed upon early on is that we want to have a charitable partner and that $1 of every badge sold would be donated.  It is very important to us, as a homegrown
family event, that we give back to the community that supports us.

As a community of gamers, we have enormous power to put our dollars where they can count.  (Kickstarter is a great example of that!)  It was an honor to help organize on behalf of our local children’s hospital and to spend 24 hours gaming.

And yes, I did stay awake the whole time.

In my next blog entry, I’ll be telling you all about our extraordinary weekend at U-Con and Detroit Fanfare.  Thanks for reading.

Marc Specter
Manager, GrandCon
29 October 2012

Related posts:

  1. From Conception to Convention Prelude & Part 1: How I Got Here
  2. From Conception to Convention Part 2: The Only Ship That Won’t Sail, You Say?
  3. GenCon 2012 – A Pictorial Recap
  4. Origins 2012 Photo Recap – A Publisher’s Perspective
  5. MACE 2011 Convention Wrap-up
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