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Extra Life’s Mission Hits Home for ModSquad Director

For one ModSquad employee, this weekend’s Extra Life fundraising event has special meaning.

extralife2016_modsquad_2Gina Miller, ModSquad’s wonderful Director of People Operations, has played a vital role in helping countless Mods snag part-time jobs in gaming. She not only sees the good work they do but also knows what caring communities they’ve fostered. Every year at this time, the ModSquad community, led by tireless Account Manager Matt Hostler, comes together to participate in Extra Life, a 24-hour gaming charity event (starting November 5) that raises money for local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. With ModSquad’s headquarters located in Sacramento, California, it only makes sense that the proceeds raised by the company are directed toward UC Davis Children’s Hospital, part of the CMN. Gina has a special place in her heart for the life-changing work done by the pediatricians and specialists at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

gina-and-nat-millerSacramento-based Gina and her husband were happily raising their young son and daughter when they noticed a troubling pattern developing with their son Nat. “We went through a multiyear period where Nat wasn’t growing,” Gina explains. “There were other symptoms, such as chronic diarrhea, or Nat feeling full or even throwing up after just a few bites of a meal.” Eventually, the Millers were connected with doctors who recognized Nat’s symptoms. An endoscopy and colonoscopy confirmed their suspicions, showing that the entrance to Nat’s small intestines were at times so inflamed that nothing could enter, triggering a gag reflex that forced up anything he took in.

Nat was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory condition of the digestive tract that can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition. Crohn’s disease can cause significant pain and be quite debilitating, sometimes leading to life-threatening complications, and at the moment, there is no known cure. At the time of his diagnosis, Nat was just 11 years old.

To cope with the disease, Nat’s family has been bringing him to UC Davis Children’s Hospital every eight weeks for almost three years. There, at the hospital’s Pediatric Infusion Center, Nat receives an IV infusion that stabilizes his symptoms as part of a five-hour treatment session. “He’ll be on this infusion until it doesn’t work for him anymore or until they find something better,” notes Gina. (In fact, he is there today!)

In the meantime, Gina and her family push to provide as normal a life for Nat as possible—and they’re succeeding. While his treatments require him to miss school, where he has an individualized health plan, the Miller family is determined to let Nat just be a kid. And like most kids, Nat doesn’t always want to eat what’s best for him—even though in this case, it’s important that he have a balanced diet, as Crohn’s affects Nat’s absorption of nutrients. “He’s supposed to avoid popcorn and nuts, but sometimes gives in. He has to learn how to manage himself and understand what he can eat and what he needs to avoid.”

With the support of the staff at UC Davis over nearly three years, Gina and her family have first-hand knowledge of high level of care the center provides its patients.

“UC Davis Children’s Hospital is wonderful. We were referred there because the head of their pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition clinic, Dr. David Kawatu, is a specialist in pediatric GI and, in particular, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Throughout the hospital, with the way they work with kids and make them feel comfortable while going through these not-so-fun medical issues, they really are wonderful.

“That’s why we’re truly delighted to participate in this fundraiser, especially since every dollar goes straight to the Children’s Miracle Network, and therefore to UC Davis. And as a bonus, anything that our team contributes internally is matched by ModSquad.”

nat-millerWhile he first participated in Extra Life in 2014 with a marathon Minecraft session, this year Nat will be on his PlayStation 4, playing first-person shooter games. He might even connect with some ModSquad folks during the event; last time he watched the proceedings on Twitch. “Extra Life not only supports a great cause,” says Gina, “but it feeds Nat’s passion for video games. And it’s the one night we let him stay up late to play!”

To support Nat and the entire ModSquad team’s Extra Life efforts, and to find out more about the November 5 event, check out the links below:

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