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Our Newest Angel in Action: Amanda Kalnins, a True Champion

Every quarter Extra Life honors our most committed volunteers with the Angels in Action Award. The award celebrates the local hard work and dedication it takes to go above and beyond #ForTheKids. Today, we are excited to name Amanda Kalnins as the latest Angel in Action!

Amanda has been a part of Extra Life for a decade, working to bring as many people as possible together to help her local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). Colleen Torres, who works as CHOC’s Assistant Director of Corporate Engagement, enthusiastically sang Amanda’s praises, describing her contributions and character in glowing terms. Colleen explained that, “Amanda is super rad, as an individual, as a friend, as a gamer. […] She is a true champion in every sense of the word.”

One of Amanda’s greatest skills is getting to know each Extra Lifer; encouraging and welcoming them into the local community. This has created a growing group of talented people in Orange County who share a passion for Extra Life and its mission. She started by recruiting her husband while the two were in the middle of their honeymoon, and everything just grew from there. Friends, family, strangers; Amanda has been able to bring so many people together to create a movement for CHOC.

Amanda’s husband Jon Kalninas loves that both he and Amanda share a passion for Extra Life. “Amanda even baked hundreds of cookies and hosted a bake sale at a local comic bookstore. As president, Amanda created opportunities to set up tables at local conventions and events to raise awareness and receive donations for Extra Life. […] She and volunteers have raised thousands of dollars and talked to even more people for Extra Life.”

Amanda and fellow Extra Lifers visiting CHOCThis past year, Amanda worked tirelessly behind the scenes to create an Extra Life presence at VidCon 2019 in Anaheim. The event allowed Extra Life’s mission to be shared with influencers, promoted awareness to thousands of YouTube fans and fundraised directly from CHOC; all around, a huge victory. It also gave Logan, a Miracle Kid from CHOC, the chance to meet one of his favorite YouTubers, Jack Douglass, the man behind the jacksfilms channel. Because Amanda opened this door to VidCon, over 700 people signed up to participate in Extra Life last year!

Like so many other Extra Lifers, Amanda feels a personal connection helping families find healing. Jon explained, that “a few years ago Amanda’s sister Katie died tragically. After that, Amanda was more motivated than ever. She started participating in the Guild program. It didn’t take long before she was volunteering to be president of her local Guild. […]Even though she has attended some really cool conventions and met thousands of people, her favorite part will always be having the opportunity to visit CHOC and playing games with the kids. She has met with and talked to many children at the hospital. Amanda has made a huge impact to her community and Extra Life has had an equal impact on her.”

Amanda articulately spotlights what Extra Life is able to do in her community. Sharing those local stories brings people together not only to donate, but also to go the extra step to fundraise themselves. She makes the victories of CHOC’s kids personal to everyone she encounters.

“At CHOC Children’s, we believe our advocates are defenders of childhood,” explains Colleen. “With people like Amanda, we know that our kiddos have the full support and love they need to focus on getting better and getting back to being a kid; getting back to playing games!”

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!