If you are a part of the Guild Wars 1 community (and even if you are not) you have probably heard about GWEN. No, not the Mesmer in Eye of the North. I’m talking about the Gaming World Entertainment Network!
GWEN is an online radio station that is also affiliated with Gamers Giving Back. Both organizations are run by the same person, M A L I B U Barbie, or Rhonda as she is known here on Earth. She has been running these organizations since January 2010. Her mission is to prove the stereotype of gamers wrong. We aren’t just sitting at home staring at a screen, we have big hearts and we are active in giving back to the world.
The Toga Party is one of the many events Rhonda has organized through GWEN and Gamers Giving Back. Another one of their major events is Pink Day in LA (Lion’s Arch) which happens every October to bring awareness and raise money for Breast Cancer. I attended my very first Pink Day this last October and I had a ton of fun! The events are fun, friendly, and you have a chance to win great prizes. More on that later.
The Toga party started in 2009 as just a regular party to get together, have fun, and win prizes. In 2010 it shifted its focus to helping raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. They moved the party to April to coincide with the Canadian MS walk which was two weeks after the party. This gave them plenty of time to promote and raise money for the cause.
So you might be wondering why GWEN and Rhonda are so passionate about MS. The answer is that this is a disease that has affected Rhonda personally. I asked her to share her story and I don’t think I could do it justice just by paraphrasing it so here it is in its entirety:
The Toga Party for MS is just around the corner and I often reflect on why this event is so important to me personally both in and out of the game. People will ask me sometimes, “Why did you choose this disease to raise money for?” Well this particular story goes all the way back to March 17th, 1995. (My 14th birthday.)
Like any normal teenage girl, I was super excited to have some friends over to celebrate. We were going to a movie and then having a slumber party!
However, as I arrived at my home after school that day….the birthday plans came to a complete halt. I walked up the steps to find my mom looking at me as if I was a stranger. When she asked me what time it was, I would of never really thought about it, until I saw the look on my dad’s face.
Earlier that day, my mom had woke up and began asking my dad questions like “Hey, what day is it?” or “Hey do you know what time it is?” and finally it led to, “Hey, where am I?” At first my dad never really thought anything about it, until my mom asked where her baby was. When my dad brought up my little brother, my mom look confused. She was actually talking about me. My dad became very upset and phoned the hospital and soon discovered that my mom was not well.
So as I arrived back to my home, I was facing the fact that my mom had no clue who I was and my dad was terrified beyond belief. I still remember him saying, “I am going to the hospital with your mom, grandma will take your friends home…we will have your party another day.” I was so upset! Why did I have to cancel my party, what was wrong with my mom, why were they going to the hospital?! All these questions were flying through my thoughts.
This was the beginning of my mom’s long trek to being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She had actually lost her memory back to the date of 1981. (The year I was born.) She was able to recover her memories soon after, but other signs and symptoms began arising. The problem was, doctors were still unsure what the true symptoms of MS were. If they were not sure how to diagnose it, you can almost bet they did not have a cure.
On several occasions my dad took my mom to emergency, when she lost complete coordination of her body and had stroke-like symptoms. She was extremely terrified. Imagine not knowing from day to day what was wrong with you. Finally, after several doctor visits, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Well, what does that mean…Multiple Sclerosis? My mom was not going to sit back and let something like this defeat her.
She began getting involved with the Canadian MS Society. She wanted to know more about MS. She was determined, as a nurse. She wanted to educate herself about this disease. All along, I watched her go through this journey. I remember her trying to be so strong about my siblings and I. She never wanted us to worry. This year, will be the 11th year that I walk with my mom in the MS Super Cities Walk in Saskatchewan. I walk for her and for all the people who share similar stories about MS. I also walk for anyone that has ever been diagnosed with a disease and struggles from day to day and those that have lost their lives or are unable to walk due to the fact that they have no more control of their muscle function.
I want to thank everyone for taking this small journey through my mom’s MS story and I want to thank my mom for allowing me to share it with you. I know that there are many of you that have watched your family go through the same thing, or are going through this journey yourself. Know that you are not alone and that is why Gamer’s Giving Back is so powerful. It shows that we truly care about each other, as a community.
If you would like to share why you are a Gamer who gives back, all you need to do is send a short, 15- 30 second recording to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will share these on-air at http://gw-en.com. We also have an area on our forums as well at gw-en.com where people have shared their testimonials about their own struggles with disease or destruction in their lives.
Thank you to everyone for their support of our upcoming event!
Founder of Gamers Giving Back
The goal for this year is to get people to not only donate, but to walk in an MS Walk. It doesn’t have to be the Canadian one (I think that’s a little far for most people) but if you could spare a few hours, try to find one near you and participate in it. You don’t have to be the most physically fit person to participate, just put on some comfortable shoes and walk as far as you can. Even if you can’t do that, please come out and support the Toga Party. I can guarantee it is going to be a lot of fun and there will be a lot of prizes.
In order to fully participate you should log onto GW-EN and tune into the radio all day.
The festivities start at 12pm CDT and run until 6pm CDT (although you can hang out and party with people for much longer than that!) on April 21st. It’s going to take place in the International Districts of Chabek Village. The website says that they are going to be in districts 1-5 but based on past experiences, I expect there to be many more districts. If you want to get into a specific district, make sure you get there early. They fill up fast sometimes!
And now for the good stuff! I did mention prizes, didn’t I?
There are several ways to earn prizes:
- Costume contest
- Scavenger hunt
- Donating real life money
- Various trivia throughout the event (that must be answered in a form of a question like Jeopardy)
Some examples of prizes are:
- 3 sets of Obsidian armor
- 3 sets of Vabbian armor
- Zaishen keys
- and so much more!
The focus on the prizes is to help people fill out their Hall Of Monuments for Guild Wars 2 since the release is rapidly approaching. For more details and a full list of prizes, please see this thread in Guru.
For more information on what this event is all about and how it got started (as well as for ways to donate, get involved, etc) please see GWEN Toga Party for Multiple Sclerosis
And for everything else involving GWEN and Gamers Giving back, please visit GWEN and Gamers Giving Back online.
That wraps up this article and I hope this has piqued your interest in this event. Again, from my personal experience, GWEN events are some of the best events I’ve ever attended. You will not be disappointed and I highly recommend you check this and other events out. The GWEN people really know how to throw some awesome parties.
I also want to thank Rhonda for sharing her story with me and allowing me to share it with you. It touched me very deeply and it helped me better understand her passion and drive for these events. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you Rhonda. You are one of a kind and I really think the world needs more people like you!
About GuildMag: GuildMag is a fanbased website solely about Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2. Back up by a team of writers, editors and designer we offer a bimonthly magazine which can be viewed through our website. With the magazine being GuildMag’s core we produce a podcast in a very similar way and a set of often updated blogposts.