Executive Corner

Desert Bus for Hope Charity Event

November is in full swing and that means that once again it’s time for the annual Desert Bus for Hope charity gaming marathon. I genuinely look forward to this event all year!

Our friends at the sketch comedy group LoadingReadyRun created this event back in 2007 to raise money for Child’s Play, a charity that donates toys and games to children’s hospitals. Every year since it’s gotten bigger and bigger, and I’m thrilled at the role ServInt gets to play in it.

The gaming marathon centers around playing Desert Bus, a mini game within Penn and Teller’s unreleased 1995 Sega game, Smoke and Mirrors. Marathon gamers play the intentionally cruel and inane game in which players simply drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas in real time, on a perfectly straight highway, with no passengers or other traffic, at 45 miles per hour.

Lest you think this game takes no skill or attention, know that the bus pulls slightly to the left, so players need to actively adjust their steering at all times to avoid crashing. If they do crash, a tow truck shows up to bring the bus back to the start—in real-time. If the players succeed in reaching Las Vegas they achieve one point in the game. The return trip is worth a second point, and so on.

LoadingReadyRun members play the game—and auction off donated crafts while responding to viewer comments and requests—as long as the live donations pour in and their endurance holds out. Last year they played the game for six days and raised over $209,000.

Since 2010, ServInt has been an official sponsor of Desert Bus for Hope, providing the bandwidth and server hardware for the event.

What kind of hardware does it take to support a popular internet telethon that gets bigger every year? Well, we set our friends at LoadingReadyRun up on one of our Enterprise 2450 servers with an unmetered 1 Gbps uplink. That’s eight cores and 24 gigs of RAM to not only play a ridiculous video game, but to broadcast the continuous action over the internet along with call-in challenges from donors!

I am especially passionate about this charity not just because I think it’s a deliciously clever and funny way to raise money, but because I believe in the good people at Child’s Play. As a youth, one of my closest friends battled and recovered from cancer—spending weeks on end fighting for his life from the confines of a small hospital room. I know firsthand that Child’s Play gives kids tools that keep them engaged and fighting when it counts. They aren’t just helping kids pass the time, their work is vital and important.

So if you’re feeling the spirit of giving as the holiday season approaches—or if you’re interested in a little schadenfreude for a good cause—check out the Desert Bus for Hope. It kicks off at 6pm EST on November 18th, but you can donate now if you’re ready to commit!

Editor’s note: Please follow Christian (@mrcjdawson) or ServInt (@servint) if you want to stay informed on how the marathon fundraising is going. But be warned, our COO kind of goes nuts during Desert Bus for Hope and tweets frequent updates as the event progresses.
 Photo by Jack Snell 
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