PA Forum Member an Unexpected, Unassuming Hero

The purity and goodness found at PAX may only come twice a year, but the impact the community has on gamer's lives stays.

The gamers in the gamer community have long been known for their big hearts and sharp minds. PAX East, the Penny-Arcade Expo, gathered the most hardcore of the community together in Boston for 3 days of pure joy.  Although the hilarity and madness is enjoyable, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the soul of this group of gamers. My experience this PAX has left me with an extremely full heart.

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An Incredible Story

My sister, Jamie, teaches 5th grade in a Kansas City school district and often has me visit after PAX to share my swag.  When I produced a card for three months of free XBox Live the students all turned and pointed to the biggest gamer in their class (for the child’s safety, we will call him ‘A’).  

After sharing my swag, my sister told me that the card I had given to him was going to go unused. When I asked why, I was presented with one of the most deeply saddening stories I have ever heard:

“..everything in the home would have to be destroyed; including (his) most prized possession and portal to the outside world, his XBox.

Jamie told me about ‘A’, and how she worried about him because he would often skip meals or disappear from school for days at a time. She told me that she found comfort in knowing he was safe by asking her students if they’ve seen him online on his XBox. When he was at school Jamie would ask him if when he looked in his cupboards at home there was food, and he replied, “Yes.”  Still unsatisfied, and unable to contact his parents for the reasoning, Jamie registered ‘A’ for free lunches under her name. 

‘A’ had come to class for a while without skipping, and ate his free meals, until one week he didn’t show up. The principal and counselors approached my sister in private and told her that a horrible tragedy had taken place.  ‘A”s father had fallen into a coma after being attacked by his wife (‘A”s mother).  This left ‘A’ and his younger sister alone with an unresponsive father in the hospital and a mother in jail.  

When the police reached ‘A”s home they entered to find that it was so infested with rodents, bugs, and drugs that everything in the home would have to be destroyed; including ‘A”s most prized possession and portal to the outside world, his XBox.

My sister was horrified when she came home that day.  She told me the story of the poor child, who was now staying with his neighbors, and, knowing I was a member of the Cookie Brigade, begged that I beseech them to help.  I was overwhelmed with sadness and purpose.  Immediately I went to every forum outlet I could, telling ‘A”s story and begging for help.  

The bigger charities I reached out to turned me away, as the problem was too small.  

But not Penny Arcade

Within minutes of posting the story on the forums I had responses from sympathizers and people who wanted to help.  After a week with no results, I was beginning to lose hope. That was when I first encountered my Penny-Arcade hero, a three-times PAX attendee named Geoffrey.  

Geoffrey sent me a message requesting a mailing address and a week later I opened a box with a brand-new 250GB XBox360, ‘A”s three favorite games, controllers, and a year of XBox Live. Also included was a note that read something like,

“Dear ‘A’,  I hope this box finds you well.  I know what it’s like to go through hard times.  Keep your chin up. -Geoffrey”

When my sister and I delivered ‘A’ his new XBox and goodies, he sat there with a blank look on his face and very passively said, “Thank you”. It wasn’t the huge reaction I had expected, but his neighbors (who have now legally adopted both ‘A’ and his sister) called to tell us he cried all night.

PAX this year afforded me the opportunity to meet my hero.  I was surprised to see he wasn’t the old, rich benefactor I had thought he’d be.  He was a young and, unsurprisingly, extremely kind.  He told me that:

“Had it been any other forum I would have read ‘A”s story and thought, ‘Yeah right…,’ but that’s not who PAX people are and that’s not what PAX people are about.”

Geoffrey is a Hero 

He is my hero and he is ‘A”s hero, but more than that he is a PAX hero. The purity and goodness found at PAX may only come twice a year, but the impact the community has on gamers’ lives stays.

Thank you Geoffrey.

*’A’ and his sister are adjusting well to their new homes. They have no contact with their mother, and we are still keeping their father in our prayers.


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