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For kids in need, a gift of donated video game fun

posted Dec 25, 2014, 7:55 AM by Patrice Fletcher   [ updated Oct 21, 2015, 5:49 PM ]

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20141221/ARTICLES/141229961

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For kids in need, a gift of donated video game fun

By Hannah O. Brown
Staff writer
Published: Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 7:59 p.m.
Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
To honor their son, Joshua Joel Fletcher, Patrice Fletcher and her husband Ian Fletcher founded Joshua Joel SMA Life Inc. with the mission to accelerate the development of a treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. They hosted their inaugural Give6 Video Games Drive to benefit underprivileged children during the holiday season, including gift recipient Ja'zae Ferguson, 7, admiring the presents with marketing coordinator Sara Ramadan, Sunday, December 21, 2014 during the video game drive gift-away party at Starter Space in Gainesville, Fla.

When Patrice Fletcher was told that her infant son had a rare genetic disease several years ago, she took action by spearheading a startup to fund research for his condition. Since that time, her mission has expanded to helping children in need across the community with a video game drive in honor of the holiday season.

A month after Joshua Joel Fletcher was born, issues began to surface.

“We noticed when he held his hand out, it would fall,” said Fletcher, president and CEO of the Joshua Joel Foundation.

At 1 month old, Fletcher's baby was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a motor neuron disease where a missing or mutated gene restricts communication between neural activity in the brain and spine. The disease is considered the most common genetic cause of infant death.

“When you don't use these muscles, they become atrophied,” Fletcher said. 

Her son spent the first five months of his life in the hospital. When he went home, he was hooked up to a ventilator and bedridden. He was unable to move except for his eyes, and he never had the opportunity to speak.

“We took him to Sea World,” she said. “We took him to the aquarium. We tried to give him that quality of life.”

Joshua Joel Fletcher died on Oct. 12, 2013, at 5 years old.

While some researchers have explored the disease, a cure has yet to be found. Fletcher said the Joshua Joel Foundation's main mission is to raise funds for research on spinal muscular atrophy, but the organization also functions as a support system for children and families in need.

The foundation organized a video game drive for the holiday season, an event where underprivileged children in Alachua County were given gift-packs of donated game consoles and age-appropriate video games. The idea is to help enhance the quality of life of children who may otherwise go without, Fletcher said.

“One of the questions that our family was faced with when my son first went to the hospital is we had to make that quality of life decision,” she said. “While he was alive, we tried to do things to make his quality of life different.”

The gift of a video game console is something that Fletcher has heard many children ask for in community drives she has been involved with in the past, but the price makes it an often unrealistic option for many families who donate. Aside from their popularity, Fletcher said video games may have educational value as well.

“Kids who play video games, sometimes their hand-eye coordination has been increased,” she said. “They are playing outside sometimes, but most of the time they are in the house and they are not playing, because there is nothing for them to play with.”

Children's Home Society worked alongside the foundation for the drive, providing contacts with children in need and collecting video game equipment at the society's Family Treasures Thrift Shop at 710 N. Main St.

CHS Executive Director Jennifer Anchors said providing gifts to children who may otherwise go without can change their feelings about the entire holiday season.

“They go back to school and they are so excited because they have something they can share and talk about with their friends,” Anchors said. “It just breaks my heart to think there is a child out there who wouldn't get something. So we just want to make sure that doesn't happen to anyone we know, and that they are having a great holiday like we are.”

At the Give6 Gift-Away party at the Starter Space, 308 W. University Ave., on Sunday, 21 packages, for children between 3 and 16, were placed carefully under a cheerful tree. Children huddled around a table of crafts, bells and Christmas ornaments, peering out at groups of socializing adults. A deejay mixed familiar sound bites from Super Mario Brothers with holiday tunes.

About 16 community partners contributed to the drive, and signs of their involvement were clearly visible in the party space. A buffet of donated food from Southern Charm and Chipotle lined one wall. A tower of cupcakes crowned with Mario coins from Patticakes stood nearby. Jars of emerald green gummy bears, pearl-sized hard candies and multicolored candy canes provided by Williams & Co. Events decorated a table covered with snow-like foam.

Since all of the gifts were repurposed from other homes, Fletcher said the drive is meant to teach young children that they can make a difference in the lives of their peers. Fletcher's 13-year-old daughter Julia donated two consoles of her own.

“We are teaching kids to give,” she said. “If you start this early, we know that later on in life it will benefit them. You are giving back to your community, and somebody else is benefiting.

Copyright © 2015 Gainesville.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.


Video-game drive helps raise awareness, support for little-known disease

posted Jul 23, 2014, 8:42 PM by Patrice Fletcher   [ updated Oct 21, 2015, 5:48 PM ]

This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers here or use the "Reprints" tool that appears above any article.  Order a reprint of this article now.

Video-game drive helps raise awareness, support for little-known disease

By Katherine Brown
Correspondent
Published: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 5:37 p.m.
Photo submitted by the Fletcher family
Last year, spinal muscular atrophy claimed the life of Joshua Joel Fletcher, who would have turned 6 in June.

A local nonprofit organization is aiming to raise awareness for a little-known disease while giving back to the community.

Give6, an initiative by Joshua Joel SMA Life Inc., is a video-game drive for children that runs through Dec. 1. 

Ian and Patrice Fletcher started the organization in 2012 to create awareness and education about spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that last year claimed the life of their son, Joshua Joel Fletcher, who would have turned 6 in June. The Give6 initiative is named in his honor. 

“I wanted to start doing something in honor of him, for the foundation, so that we bring more awareness to the disease,” said Patrice Fletcher, who is president and CEO of the foundation. 

Spinal muscular atrophy is a rare genetic disease that affects voluntary muscles throughout the body, meaning normal body functions are compromised.

The organization is officially launching the drive at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Children's Home Society Family Treasures Thrift Shop, 710 N. Main St. A ribbon-cutting ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. 

The drive was partially inspired by the Fletchers' daughter, Julia, 13, who had old video games she no longer used but were still in working condition. They said if their daughter had unwanted games, other people probably did as well, and children who may not have the chance to own them probably wanted them. 

But the organization's key goal is to raise awareness about spinal muscular atrophy so families can become advocates for their loved ones, said Ian Fletcher, vice president of Workforce Development for the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We had to become advocates quickly for our own son's life,” he said.

He said his family was frequently given conflicting information about their son's health and medical practices for people with his condition. 

Little is known about spinal muscular atrophy, and medical professionals who know what it is or how to treat it are even more rare, Fletcher said.

It is the No. 1 genetic killer of infants and toddlers younger than 24 months, but there is a promise of a cure with adequate research. Having good quality of life for people with the disease can be hard, and Patrice said this was a driving factor in wanting to start a video-game drive. 

“Just like our son was limited medically, there are kids [who] are limited financially,” she said. “So when you say quality of life, our heart is not just for medical. Our heart is for quality of life for all.” 

New games and consoles will be collected, as well. Items being collected include video games, game consoles and accessories. No broken games, consoles or accessories, or any games rated mature/adult or with excessive violence will be accepted.

Drop-off locations are the Children's Home Society Family Treasures Thrift Shop; O2B Kids Supercenter, 6680 W. Newberry Road; and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, 300 E. University Ave., Suite 100. Used video games will be accepted through Nov. 22, and new games will be accepted through Dec. 1. 

Tax-deductible monetary donations also are accepted by Joshua Joel SMA Life Inc. for research purposes. Long-term, the organization hopes to raise enough money to fund a research project and to start an annual conference to raise awareness about the disease and show support for those affected by it, Ian Fletcher said.

Copyright © 2015 Gainesville.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.


Give6 Making a Difference GTN News

posted Jul 23, 2014, 8:32 PM by Patrice Fletcher   [ updated Oct 21, 2015, 5:45 PM ]

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One local family is turning their tragedy into a good cause - and it's all through a nonprofit initiative they call Give 6. 
In our big story tonight - GTN's Briana Harper tells us how they hope to give back and how they're raising awareness. 

Today the Fletcher family officially kick-starts its cause to give back. But this fundraising drive is different from most.  

It's centered on collecting video games and informing people of the rare disease spinal muscular atrophy. 
Children's Home Society Director Jennifer Anchors says, "This is an opportunity for us to spread more awareness to what children need in our community and how we all can help whether we're donating a video game, volunteering, donating cash-- we can all do something to help children in need."

Give 6 is named in honor of the Fletcher's son Joshua Joel who lived with SMA but passed away months before his 6th birthday. 

Now-- in honor of his memory the goal is simply advocacy. 
Joshua's mother Patrice Fletcher says"There is more technology that can help kids with spinal muscular atrophy but there's not that awareness out there. There's so much research going on out there but we don't have one in this area."

 O2BKids, Children's Home Society and the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce are all partners in the Give 6 initiative. 

And in each of these fields quality of live in some way remains a priority. 
Joshua's father Ian Fletcher says, "It's about all aspects of life and so when we do economic development for our community we talk about the quality of life we talk about the culture, we talk about our schools."

And now talks of SMA awareness and giving back can also benefit the community's quality of life as well. 

Give 6 is collecting new and used video games from now until the beginning of December just in time for holiday season gift giving. 

Give6 Article Published by World News

posted Jun 30, 2014, 7:29 PM by Patrice Fletcher   [ updated Sep 1, 2014, 6:48 PM ]

http://article.wn.com/view/2014/06/30/Give6_s_Video_Game_Drive_Official_Launch_and_Ribbon_Cutting_/

Give6’s Video Game Drive Official Launch and Ribbon Cutting

posted Jun 27, 2014, 11:11 AM by Patrice Fletcher   [ updated Sep 1, 2014, 6:59 PM ]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2014

CONTACT: Shareen Baptiste

Public Relations Specialist

c: 407-967-0237

shareen.baptiste@hotmail.com

 Give6’s Video Game Drive Official Launch and Ribbon Cutting

Thursday, July 10, 4:30 p.m. at Children’s Home Society Family Treasures Thrift Shop

Joshua Joel Fletcher has given so much to people he came into contact with and even those he never met. Although Joshua is no longer with us, his spirit lives through the mission and causes of his nonprofit organization.

This year, Joshua would have turned six years old. To commemorate his legacy, Joshua Joel SMA Life Inc. presents its inaugural video game drive, “Give6”.

On Thursday, July 10 at 4:30 p.m., Joshua Joel SMA Life Inc. is hosting its “Give6 Video Game Drive Official Launch” at the Children’s Home Society Family Treasures Thrift Shop, 710 N. Main St. The ribbon cutting will take place at 5:30 p.m.

Join us as we collect new and used video games, consoles and accessories to give to underprivileged children this holiday season. There will be a donation station to collect contributions at the launch.

Between now and the end of November, individuals can drop off donations at any one of the following three drop sites:

  • O2B Kids Super Center, 6680 W. Newberry Rd.
  • Children’s Home Society Family Treasures Thrift, 710 N. Main St.
  • Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, 300 E. University Ave., Suite 100 – in the commerce building

Did you know that an estimated 23.8% of persons living in Alachua County live below the poverty level compared to the 15.6% at the state level? Give a child a notable gift this Holiday Season by donating your video game(s) and/or gaming system(s) that now sits on the shelf. For alternative donation methods, visit www.jojosmalife.com. 

- more - 

Joshua Joel SMA Life Inc. is dedicated to the advancement of a comprehensive research program and cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the number one genetic killer of infants and toddlers.

Joshua Joel SMA Life Inc. is a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit public charity. Gifts and/or donations are tax deductible. The tax identification number for the nonprofit charity is 45-4145005. For questions, email jojosmalife@gmail.com or call (352) 505-3097.

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