Desert Bus for Hope 10: Open Your Wallets

Feature Article from Adam Styborski
Adam Styborski
11/14/2016 10:02:00 AM
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There are thousands of charity events every year. From Games Done Quick to Wedge's annual St. Jude's Children's Hospital run, there is always a great cause to put your dollars towards. One of the most iconic in the Magic community is Loading Ready Run's Desert Bus for Hope.

"Desert Bus for Hope is a charity fundraising marathon in support of Child's Play Charity," Graham Stark from LRR said. "We play the worst video game ever made until people stop donating, and during that week of time we entertain the viewers 24 hours a day. This is our tenth year, and over the past nine years we've raised $3.2million dollars."

The "worst video game ever made" is just part of Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors, an unreleased Sega CD game from the mid '90s. The object is simple: Drive, in real time hours at 45 MPH and with a slight drift to the right, a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. Get there and score a point. Make the return trip and score another. It takes eight hours each way.

Desert Bus for Hope plays off the exact idea you're thinking of: Forcing people to keep playing an utterly banal, inoffensive, boring game for as long as possible. As Graham put it, "The mixture of generosity and spite is strong: people love being able to support a charity, while forcing us to endure this garbage game."

Keeping the charity event rolling means incentivizing donations with prizes. It turns out people like Loading Ready Run, so items for giveaway and auction are needed to pump up the excitement. Trick Jarrett, Global Content and Community Manager for Magic: The Gathering, takes great pride in helping Desert Bus for Hope be the success for charity it is. Magic has deep roots with LRR, and it became clear a few years ago that more Magic meant more donations.

"[E]ver since an uncut sheet of cards made $10,000 through a live auction, the team at Wizards, particularly Trick Jarrett, have taken it as a personal challenge to raise as much as they can," Graham said. "This year's offering are intense. Uncut sheets. Collectibles you basically couldn't find elsewhere. Something very spicy for MTGO players! Plus, just some really chill, funny, positive entertainment, which everybody should love."

Entertainment is exactly what sets Desert Bus for hope apart from most charity streams. There's an unbelievable amount of skits, randomness and utterly bizarre activity that, somehow, elevates itself into truly entertaining moments.

" There are too many [moments] to count and it's practically impossible to remember them, though there is an extensive archive on YouTube, but for me personally a single beloved moment is when Kathleen slowed danced around the set, wearing a giant paper mache angler fish head, while Beej sang Nothing Compares to You accompanied by Ian playing a homemade theremin. It's a weird thing we do."

A decade of entertainment and millions of dollars in charity donations even led to a Kickstarter-funded documentary. "It's the tenth year of the event, and we wanted an archival record of Desert Bus. Not just of the past decade of events, but also the nearly year-long organizational setup that it takes to put this show on," Graham explained. "But we don't have the people, equipment or bandwidth to do it ourselves because we're... doing Desert Bus. So we crowdfunded it last year, and have brought in Russ Pitts and Flying Saucer Media to shoot it. I've seen some early edits, and it's going to be a terrific story."

Creating another terrific story is the current mission of the Desert Bus for Hope team, and the tenth year is just getting fired up. Whether you're waiting for a special guest to appear or just want to keep track of how ridiculous the streaming schedule really is you'll need to visit the Desert Bus for Hope website to watch everything happen live.

Then donate to keep the punishment going. You're only helping the children.




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