The unofficial start to Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo’s charity drives on Twitch began with a $100 wager with a trash-talker. A viewer thought they could beat him in a Trials of Osiris run on Destiny. DrLupo knew he could beat him, but he couldn’t keep the money.
“I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to whoop this kid if he even shows up, but there’s no way I’m going to keep the money because I feel like it’s dirty, so I’m going to give it to charity,’” said DrLupo.
The troll never showed up to prove he was better at Destiny, but DrLupo did something much greater than crushing a random player—he raised nearly $11,000 for the National Fragile X Foundation.
While his charity efforts started as a simple wager, DrLupo now raises millions. Last year, DrLupo raised $1,343,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital—the most from any single content creator. This year, he aims to donate even more.
Through the years, DrLupo has used his channel on Twitch to support a number of different charities. Within the last few years, though, he’s settled on primarily supporting St. Jude. As a father, picking a cause that battles childhood cancer made sense.
“It does not matter where they are from, what they look like, who they are, the fact that kids have to fight cancer and all this other horrible stuff—stuff that you would not even wish on your worst enemy—is so largely unfair,” he explained.
While DrLupo hopes to surpass his donation total from last year, he isn’t the only Twitch streamer supporting St. Jude this year.
Five years ago Zach Whitten, advisor of youth innovation at St. Jude, pitched the idea to create St. Jude PLAY LIVE—a fundraising program specific to gamers and streamers. When Melanee Hannock, St. Jude’s chief digital and innovation officer, heard about the goal behind the St. Jude PLAY LIVE program, she knew it was worth investing in.
“From my standpoint, it was easy to embrace Zach and it was easy to embrace the gaming community,” said Hannock. “I’m more than thrilled that the gaming community has embraced us.”
In 2014, when St. Jude PLAY LIVE began, 12 streamers participated. Five years later, over 270 streamers will raise money throughout the month of May to support St. Jude.
In addition to DrLupo, the list of streamers include Eleni “Bloodyfaster,” Brandon “iamBrandon” Stennis, and others from a combined 30 countries. This year, St. Jude PLAY LIVE has set a goal to raise $2 million, but DrLupo wants to do much more.
“$2.8 million is how much it costs to run St. Jude for a single day,” DrLupo said. “I don’t know if we could do that or not, it would be fantastic if we could. But, I always go into these things with no expectations because I don’t want people to feel like they owe me anything.”
To reach his milestone, DrLupo plans to fundraise beyond May and participate in different charity events with his stream. With the support of DrLupo and countless other streamers, Hannock said the future for St. Jude PLAY LIVE is unlimited.
“The ability to give has become so much easier,” Hannock said. “Gaming really, I think, can change the world or at least the world of pediatric cancer for us.”