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Bike Repair For The Kids with Ryan Clayton

Many people participating in Extra Life over the years have come up with outside-the-box ways of raising money to help treat the kids in their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. However, in June we heard about how one Extra Lifer had been doing something we had never seen before: Repairing bicycles.

Ryan Clayton started out doing LAN parties with friends to raise money for local kids through Extra Life. Having a child, however, changed how he approached fundraising. The confines of COVID-19 quarantine had Clayton thinking about how he could use other hobbies to both tangibly help his community and the kids at the local Boston Children’s Hospital, which brought him back to how passionate he had been about BMX biking in his childhood.

We reached out to Ryan to learn more about his incredible story.

Jack Gardner: Can you tell me a bit about your history with Extra Life? How did you get started?

Ryan Clayton: I started doing LAN parties with my friends out of nostalgia back in 2015 and one of those friends and I were talking about doing a Eurotruck Simulator marathon for Extra Life that year. We ended up just doing a 24 hour LAN party with everyone that year. Ever since then, we’ve kept doing that.

I was personally really excited to find a way to put gaming to use for a local children’s hospital. I had helped out with a yearly horror movie fest back in Syracuse in a friend’s name who had passed away from brain cancer at 23. We donated the proceeds to Golisano Children’s Hospital. By the 4th year, we had raised about $15,000 USD which allowed us to purchase a nurse’s desk with a plaque in memory of our friend.

JG: Most people fundraise for Extra Life by gaming, but you have found a lot of success by repairing bicycles in exchange for donations – how did you come up with that idea?

RC: I don’t stream much these days due to having a child, a full-time job that is pretty demanding, and mental health issues. I’m kind of always looking for ways to put my hobbies to good use for people around me. I had started working on my own bikes and remembered how much I used to love doing that when I was a kid with my BMX bike. On a whim, I just threw a post out to my city’s Facebook community page and the response was massive.

Since a lot of people are stuck at home, they’re all dragging out their old bikes and riding them again. It’s pretty satisfying to see the transformation of a deep clean on a bike then to get it running good with a tune-up. I also love knowing it’s getting people on bikes again and I get to raise money for kids at the same time.

JG: What are the challenges you’ve encountered exchanging an in-person service for donations?

RC: It’s not really that bad. I have them drop off the bike(s) at my house, the first thing I do is wash with dawn dish soap while wearing dish gloves. That allows me to get to the next steps. I’ve communicated over text and Facebook messenger. Then I set up a pickup time with them and they pick it up. I then just send them a link to my Extra Life page and ask them to consider donating whatever they feel the service is worth.

JG: How has Covid-19 made your fundraising strategy more difficult and what do you do to keep your donors and yourself safe?

RC: For me personally, the most challenging part about COVID-19 has been comfort with asking for donations. I have a lot of friends and family that are out of work and/or struggling financially due to it. I keep everything electronic so we don’t have to risk any transmission to each other. Facebook visibility has been an ongoing problem anyways with the way the algorithms work.

JG: How can other people emulate what you’ve done? What advice do you have for people who might not know where to start with your unique style of fundraising?

RC: I think the best advice I can give is just to do what you can where you can. If you have a passion and it’s something that you can do for other people, just ask them to consider donations instead of payment. Even stuff like helping out around your community. Teaching people skills you have, knowledge sharing, etc. My philosophy and advice is to just try. If it doesn’t work out, fine. If you at least try and keep trying, then maybe the next person tries, and maybe they get someone to try. Keep looking for that little niche you can fill.

Check out Ryan’s Extra Life page here.

One thing to always remember about Extra Life is that you can raise money however you’d like. While we tend to focus on gaming, don’t let that dampen your creativity. All sorts of fundraising via services, broadcasts, and events can go toward helping your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Be like Ryan and don’t be afraid to break out of gaming to try something new and exciting that you think could raise money for sick and injured kids.

Don’t forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!