For a cause: young man runs video game tournaments to battle cancer


Members of Gaming For A Cause get together every second Saturday of the month at Fuddrucker’s on Madison and Sunrise in Citrus Heights.

Garitt Rocha and Garrit Rocha

Retinoblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma: two rare forms of cancer, one of the eyes and the other of the salivary glands. By the time he was 17, Austin Young had been diag-nosed with both.

At six months old, Young was diagnosed with retinoblastoma and lost most of his sight in one eye and good portion of his sight in the other. After going through radiation therapy, the cancer in Young’s eyes was successfully extinguished. It never rains but it pours; a statement that likely became very true to Young when he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, cancer of the salivary glands, in May 2011.

Fate, it would seem, had not dealt Young a fair hand. But Young determined to help those who have helped him battle cancer by formally starting a non-profit organization called Gaming 4 A Cause in November 2011.
Young’s organization is focused on running video game tournaments in order to raise money for the Koret Family House, another organization that provides housing for Young while he undergoes regular rounds of chemotherapy. Competitors in the tourna-ment are charged an entry fee and a portion of the cost goes to charity while the rest of the money goes toward prizes for the tournament.

“Koret Family House gave us a place to stay,” said Young. “They (took) away one of the largest expenses we would have had. Last summer, I wanted to find a way to give back to them. A lot of times they need more food, so I thought of a canned food drive, but then I thought, ‘What if we could do something with video game tournaments?’”

From there, Young began planning and decided to hold his first tournament at Bella Vista High School.

It wasn’t long before Gaming 4 A Cause grew large enough to need a bigger venue for their competitions. Eventually, Young and his board consisting of young adults found a venue through Fuddruckers in Citrus Heights, Calif. on Sunrise Boulevard.

Young holds tournaments on the second Saturday of every month at Fuddruckers and has raised over $6,000 for the Koret Family House. But Young and his board are ambitious; they are looking to expand and hope to hold tournaments at several different locations multiple times a month. They have also begun sponsoring individuals who are talented at the games they run at the tournaments, including “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” and “Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3,” in order to spread the word about Gaming 4 A Cause.

Young’s drive to help others has allowed him to bring people together through a form of entertainment that is often seen as violent.