For an estimated 3 million Americans, epilepsy is a real danger and puts many people at risk for life-threatening seizures. Corey Austen and his younger brother Matt Glasscock are no strangers to the complications of epilepsy.
On May 31st, 2016, Matt lost his life to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (or “SUDEP.”) He had always struggled with seizures most of his life, but the complexities of SUDEP were not merciful and in the end he lost his battle with epilepsy. Four months later, hoping to illuminate the danger of SUDEP, Corey is working with the Epilepsy Foundation to raise funds to research SUDEP, aid families who have lost their loved ones to this condition, and increase the awareness of an otherwise unknown illness. This Friday, Corey, his wife Annie Austen and his friends Denny Dowty and Logan Coursat will be streaming a host of Zelda games for roughly 24 hours (or more) raising as much money as they can.
When a close friend of mine, Emmie Rodriguez started working on the illustration and graphics side of this event, I felt it was important to get involved and not only bring light to SUDEP, but also to bring gamers together for a noble cause.
A Legend is Born
The Legend of Zelda is one of the most staple games of our generation. The promise of an adventure is what draws players in: you embark on a quest, you perfect your skills as a warrior and you either save the world or the damsel in distress. The Legend of Zelda, unlike its peers, is not only a game, but it is an apparatus by which a story is told. The narrative has always been constructed in a particular way, giving the player the ability to place themselves within the story itself and allowing them to be the hero.
Growing up, a majority of us spent our formative years playing these games with our siblings; video games were a told by which we could forge bonds with our brothers or sisters, something within itself is sacred and transcendental. For Corey and Matt, The Legend of Zelda was not only a game, it was something that tied their fates together forever. Corey (28) has been playing The Legend of Zelda since he was about 3 or 4. His first Zelda was the original game, and since picked it up he has not looked back since. Matt (23) had been gaming since since he could get his hands on a controller.
The year was 2006 and Corey was in college with Matt just starting high school. What had set this year apart from the others was the Nintendo Wii. Twilight Princess had been announced, prompting the brothers to search high and low for both the system and the game. Gamestops, Walmarts, Targets, and local shops alike were out of stock of the up-and-coming next generation giant, leaving Corey and Matt disparaged in their search to acquire the system. However, with the help of their father, they found a store willing to give them a call when both were in stock. Matt purchased the Wii, while Corey got a copy of Twilight Princess.
The Zelda series has played a massive role in the brothers lives, forging lasting connections and meaningful memories only siblings could understand. Corey, being around for the forefront of The Legend of Zelda’s genesis, began collecting the games at an early age. The most prominent piece of his collection is the ever rare golden cartridge copy of the first game in the series, a testament to the evolution of Zelda and piece of history in and of itself.
A Turn For the Worst
Corey would drag Matt everywhere, they were pretty much inseparable. Even as they got older, the distance between Kansas City, MO and Colombia, MO was not enough to keep them apart. In April 2016, a month before Matt passed, Corey had purchased tickets for The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. It was a memorable experience for both brothers: they spent their night at an amazing concert, went out for some late night chow, and talked about life a while before heading home.
A month later, after returning home from a road-trip, Corey had visited his parents in Booneville. When he got there, his mother had told him that Matt had had a seizure earlier that day and was downstairs sleeping it off. But, when Corey had gone down to check on him, Matt had been laying face down on the floor, breathless and cold. No one had told Matt or his family the creeping danger of SUDEP or how quickly it could take someone; Matt had developed epilepsy at the age of 11 and he would have a seizure almost every six months and they had become progressively worse as he got older. The seizures were getting so bad that Matt would have to take about 5 or 6 pills a day and even missing a dose once would have dire consequences.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
One of the most potent memories for Corey was when his younger brother and him had been playing Super Smash Brothers when Matt’s character suddenly stopped moving. Glancing over, Corey saw that his brothers arms had been curled against his chest and his posture slumped forward, telltale signs of a seizure. These epileptic seizures would leave Matt incredibly fatigued, so he would always take a well needed rest to recuperate from such a draining event. The same illness also prevented him from driving; the fear of having a seizure behind the wheel as well as possibly harming somebody during an attack prevented Matt from getting his driver’s license.
Little did Corey know that Matt, in some way, had managed to live on. Tucked away in Matt’s room was an Amiibo, a Twilight Princess Amiibo to be exact. Resting in its circuitry was Matt’s [data] ghost, a unique collection of data specific to him and nobody else. Realizing what he had stumbled upon, Corey took it upon himself to save, backup and archive any of Matt’s other game data in order to preserve this digital ghost. Then, E3 rolled around. With the announcement of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild came the addition of a special in-game feature: the Wolf Link Amiibo can be used to summon Wolf Link as the hero’s companion. Keeping it safe, Corey now stores the Amiibo in a cloche in memoriam to Matt.
For Corey, this revelation meant that his brother and him could still play this game together, it would be a chance for them to play side by side again like they had growing up. In a letter to Nintendo, Corey told Matt’s story and unbeknown to him, they had read it and prepared him a care package. The letter had also been published by ZeldaInformer as well. The note from Nintendo read:
Our condolences on your loss. May your brother’s legend live on forever. Thank you for sharing your story.
Your friends at Nintendo
The case came from Corey, but the shirt, lanyard, pin, and coin are just some of what Nintendo sent him.
The package included:
- Shadow Link Backpack
- Shadow Link Hat
- Shadow Link Dog Tags
- Shadow Link Lanyard
- Shadow Link Keyring
- Leather Watch
- Triforce Lamp
- Legend of Zelda T-Shirt
- Twilight Princess T-Shirt
- Breath of the Wild E3 T-Shirt
- Breath of the Wild E3 Lanyard
- Breath of the Wild E3 Coin
- Breath of the Wild E3 Staff pin
For Charity And For Fun
After hearing about Corey’s loss, The Epilepsy Foundation reached out to him and has been helping aid Corey since May in his bereavement in addition to guiding him in setting up the ‘Moblins for Matt’ charity event this Friday, September 9th, 2016. The primary goals of this stream are to help The Epilepsy Foundation in providing programs and support for the community, aid in the creation of newer treatments and therapies for epilepsy, educate the population at large about seizure awareness, and advocate for the improvement of the rights and regulations for those suffering from epilepsy. With a heightened awareness of SUDEP, families may be able to better prepare themselves for the intricacies of living with epilepsy along with what can be done to prevent SUDEP.
One of the minds behind the Zeldathon Charity has reached out to lend Corey hand, giving tips and helping him prepare his Twitch channel for this Friday’s stream. The livestream will start September 9th at 7PM CST. Corey and his friends will be playing games from the Zelda series such as The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and Wind Waker. Without them, none of this would have been possible. Should they reach a high enough goal, they will stream Matt’s all time favorite, Twilight Princess. The stream will last roughly 24 hours and they will keep playing through Monday should they get more donations.
Click here for the Moblins for Matt Twitch Channel
For more information, follow Corey on Twitter @MoblinsForMatt and use the hashtag #MoblinsForMatt to spread the word.
The Facebook event is also a good place to check in for updates as well!
For more information on SUDEP and the SUDEP Institute you can also click here and here.
Emmie’s work can be found on Instagram or her Twitter