From his Columbia home, Theo Lazarou is making a difference in the lives of children in his community.
A recent Long Reach High School graduate, Lazarou, 18, has figured out a way to use his love of video games as a way to raise support for pediatric leukemia research.
Using Twitch, a livestreaming platform for gamers, he has held two 24-hour virtual gaming marathons where viewers can donate to support Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
The livestreams featured “speedrunning,” which involves players trying to break records by finishing games in as little time as possible, often using advanced techniques and glitches in the game’s code to skip ahead.
Lazarou, who has been speedrunning for six years, was inspired to turn his hobby into a means of philanthropy after watching Games Done Quick, a weeklong national gaming marathon that raises money for Doctors Without Borders.
“To me, it kind of felt like a no brainer,” he said. “If I could raise money doing something that I love, that would be awesome.”
Playing under the screen name “HexSpeedruns” on Twitch, Lazarou said he has raised a total of $2,000.
Personally knowing children who have died from leukemia, Lazarou said it means a lot to him to be able to help children in this way.
“I actually know one person who was close to me who had his life taken from leukemia,” he said. “Doing this has really helped me and it’s helped out many families who have had a loss in their family.”
Lazarou will be a freshman at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County this fall, where he will be studying computer science and is looking into holding another speedrunning fundraiser this winter.
He said he hopes the fundraiser will inspire more people to help others.
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“I hope more people follow in my footsteps and do what they love and raise money for what they care about,” Lazarou said.