I began the Charity Play of the Week promotion in March of 2012 as an extension of my own personal gift-giving philosophy. For over 20 years I've been a consistent contributor to nationally recognized charitable organizations like St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Special Olympics, among others. But, at the same time, I also found myself sending donations to total strangers whose stories I read about in newspapers across the nation while researching and handicapping games.
While giving away money that I personally made from being in this business, it dawned on me that I could create a community of givers from those that gamble using my advice and that of the handicappers at this site.
The word "gambling" and the entire sports handicapping industry has been tarnished by the countless, unscrupulous carnival barkers who have been operating high-pressure, 800 boilerroom operations for the better part of three decades. However, having built and operated the largest 100% online sports handicapping business in the world, I always felt there was some greater good that could be accomplished while enjoying what we do for recreation.
Back in 2012 while handicapping games I came across the story of a father with two special-needs children in Texas who was battling terminal cancer. There was a fund-raising effort started to collect money for his eventual funeral expenses and his family's well-being. I immediately made my own personal donation but then started thinking about how I could get our customers involved as well. The Charity Play of the Week program was thus born when I gave away my Best Bet the following day for Free with the stipulation that if it won I was going to put up a link to the fund-raising site and ask customers - strictly on an anonymous, honor-based level - to make a contribution. If it lost, however, there would be no solicitation since this is, after all, gambling.
The play did in fact win and the outpouring of support from my customers was amazing. The amount of the donation wasn't important as I asked them to make whatever contribution they could afford. And, as I explained to them, I was starting the program because I personally felt one could never have enough positive karma in one's life, not just in this thing we do called gambling.
As I have often told you frequently since the program was born, karma is not something that can be picked at the supermarket or dropped off at your door like the morning paper. You need to create it and the good will this program has generated is proof positive.
Since the program's inception, I have given away over $3.4 million (yes, MILLION) worth of selections at the site (through late-September 2013). And the response has been overwhelming because so many of you - loyal patrons at this site - have helped so many strangers in need of financial assistance when their chips are down.
That is what building a community of givers is all about.
Yes, a COMMUNITY, because without your participation this program doesn't exist.
For those of you new to the program, once a week I'm going to pick one hot handicapper and give away his play for free. Then if it wins - and if you win - I'm going to ask you to make a donation to a family, group or organization that needed financial support.
The amount of the donation is inconsequential; $5, $15 or $500 - it doesn't matter as long as you participate in this quid pro quo program. The donations would be strictly on the honor system; I have no idea who you are or how much you contribute. And I have no idea whether those getting the free plays are in fact making a contribution. I'm simply going on my belief that there is honor among gamblers and that those of you participating are helping others in turn.
For those who have joined me in helping others, my sincere thanks. For those of you that participate and don't donate, I don't know how you can face yourself in the mirror each day.
CHARITY PLAY OF THE WEEK UPDATES
I've told you that I become personally invested in every family and/or organization that we've helped. Not just from a financial standpoint, either. It takes me a couple of hours following a winning release to sort through all the different fund raising sites seeking support. It's not fun reading about so much despair and I don't like "playing God," choosing one family or group over another.
After I make a selection, I like to keep track of how those on the receiving end are doing. Sometimes it's great news.... and sometimes not. We are often dealing with life and death situations here.
Below I will keep you updated on a number of past families and/or groups we have helped along the way.
APRIL 3, 2013
Mason Helwig is a little guy who suffers from a disease called XLP. This rare disorder affects less than one child in a million and strikes males only with nearly 75 percent of those failing to live past 10-years-old. The best treatment is a bone marrow transplant and Mason - who is expected to be hospitalized in Ohio for six months - will be receiving chemotherapy as he prepares for a transplant.
Here's the original link to follow his story: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/fRt98
Thanks to your support, this family met its goal. His mother posted this note of appreciation:
MARCH 28, 2013
There's a six-year-old boy by the name of Fin who has quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy. From what I read, it's the most severe form of the disease because it affects all four limbs and the trunk and usually has other associated problems as well.
Here's are pictures of Fin at this link:
Fin's family wanted to purchase a a wheelchair bicycle tandem, which you can see here:
They began a fund-raising campaign and thought they had hit their goal to purchase the bike only to discover they were still around $2,000 short. Talk about getting backdoored. But unlike in our business, we were able to change the final result and turn a loss into a win by helping their cause at this link:
Feel good about yourself if you donated by watching the touching videos from Fin and his father expressing their appreciation and gratitude at:
MARCH 21, 2013
Four-year-old Zaiden Hauter was diagnosed with a Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma in October of 2012. He completed six rounds of chemo - which unfortunately didn't work - and is now scheduled to head to New York on May 17 for surgery as doctors will attempt to remove most of the cancer that is currently on the front part of his spine. After that surgery, he will have another high dose chemo treatment in hopes of killing the cancer cells in his bone marrow.
Zaiden's family needed some financial assistance to cover their trip to New York and the resulting stay. You know as well as I do that insurance simply doesn't cover everything.
You can read about their plight here:
You can also follow Zaiden's journey through the family's Facebook page at:
What struck me on this page is how many other small children are fighting cancer for their lives as their struggles were noted by Zaiden's mother.
MARCH 14, 2013
Kristin Van Daalen is a 31-year-old mother with three young daughters - ages 7 and 4 (twins) - who can no longer work because of chronic kidney disease and resulting renal failure. Without a kidney transplant, which she is awaiting, she will die.
Unable to work any longer, she needed some financial support to get her through this time of need and that's where you came in.
MARCH 7, 2013
Tytus Meister is a 9-year-old boy from Montana who was diagnosed in September with a rare cancer-like autoimmune disease called Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis.
He began radiation treatment in Seattle on February 26. The family was then on its fourth 500-mile trip from Montana to Seattle for a hospital visit in the past five months and second in three weeks. Needless to say, they need some financial help to make ends meet for all the expenses that insurance doesn't cover.
Here is the donation page to make a contribution:
And you can follow the day-to-day updates from this family on their journey right here:
Here is a note from Tytus's mother that was posted to their site. Although addressed to me, it's meant for all of YOU that help defray their journey's costs.
As we sit waiting on more results from tests, and other forks in the road that we didn't anticipate, you somehow managed to lift our spirits in a huge way. We can't begin to tell you how much we appreciate you and what you've done. We didn't expect it, I was lucky enough to figure out where all these were coming from. This is special, and we won't ever forget! THANK YOU!
Update - On April 8, his mother posted the following:
Tytus is doing absolutely AWESOME. He's spending less and less time in his brace and starts physical therapy soon! We recheck with ortho, and neurosurgery in June!
FEBRUARY 21, 2013
Ashley Britton's little girl, Zoe, has been plagued by numerous health issues since she was three months old, among them seizures, elevated spinal pressure and inter-cranial pressure. But countless tests run by her medical team in the Kansas City area had not been able to shed light on the underlying cause(s) let alone a solution. Her doctors had recommended a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and this family was seeking financial assistance to defray some of the costs involved with medical care and travel.
You take one look at that little girl and tell me how you could refuse to help?
FEBRUARY 14, 2013
Nathan Klinkhammer, age 27, of Beaumont, Texas, underwent cancer surgery for a second time in two years on his knee as he had a tumor removed. In a cruel twist of irony, he is a floor installer by trade. Needless to say, he was going to be out of work for quite a while with no way to support his wife and two young girls as he embarked on a 15-week, five-day-a-week radiation course.
The creator of this family's fund-raising page posted this remark....
And on February 27, this great news was added....
Thank you to everyone for the kindness you've shown Nathan and support of his battle. I hope he doesn't mind, but I'd like to tell you just how amazing Nathan and Misty are, and tell you what your money helped support. With funds generated from all of our fundraisers, they were able to pay the bills through the duration of his radiation. They had a little leftover. Meanwhile Nathan continues treatment, where he met an 8-year-old girl with a brain tumor. Her mom works for Walmart; her father unemployed. Nathan and Misty gave the leftover money to her family. You have touched many lives, friends.
And on March 5, Nathan posted this....
Great news! My 15-18 weeks of treatment ends Friday. My white blood count is great, CT scans show nothing abnormal, all blood work is great. As of right now, I'm cancer free again!
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