Young Leukemia Patient Gains Hope During Cancer Journey from Esports League

In late-breaking news, Harrison is playing on a team that made it to the 2022 NA Finals at Full Sail University. Unfortunately, he is still not able to play in person, but we have some great ideas on how to keep him feeling included. His team placed #2 at regionals, so they have a shot!

Youth Esports League, XP League, Tailors In-Person Program for 11-Year-Old Leukemia Survivor Harrison Marcus.

Partners with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to Support Those Affected by Blood Cancer.

Motivated by the health concerns of one of its esports players, 11-year-old-leukemia survivor Harrison Marcus, XP League, a youth esports league, tailored its in-person, coach-led training program to be inclusive of cancer patients, survivors, and other immunocompromised kids. And now they’re partnering with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to help patients, like Harrison, and their families help those whose lives have been impacted by blood cancer.

Courtney and Andrew Marcus’ life was turned upside down in the fall of 2019 when their son Harrison was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). While gaming hadn’t been a significant part of Harrison’s life before his cancer diagnosis, it became a way for him to engage and connect with the outside world and make new friends from his hospital bed and, during COVID, from the safety of his room.

Courtney says, “In the intervening few years, we have been supported through this journey by an untold number of people, and organizations including LLS, but none more important to Harrison than his XP League family. He has grown in his ability to communicate and strategize and built up his resilience and stamina. For children whose days are filled with white coats and sterile rooms playing team-oriented video games such as Fortnite, Valorant, and Rocket League, provides more than an outlet. They are a lifeline to a world without diagnoses where kids like Harrison can feel on equal footing with their peers. We are forever indebted to the XP League family and (XP League founders) the Melamed family for absorbing Harrison into their universe. It has made all the difference.”

Modeled after classic youth sports, XP League’s gamers take part year-round in 9-week seasons, with each week hosting an in-person practice and tournament match. This team-based, coach-led experience for young gamers is crucial to the experience of XP League, and what draws many families to such an organization.

XP League’s CEO Jay Melamed developed an alternative way for Harrison, and others like him, to continue training to become a successful gamer and participate in team events. Sticking true to the League’s ethos to promote the positive aspects of competitive gaming with an emphasis on inclusion, diversity, community, and social responsibilities, Melamed created a virtual program for Harrison to pilot test. Harrison has now played in 6 seasons with the North Carolina XP League franchise, Triangle XP League, and is an equal contributor on each team he is placed. In 2021 XP League unveiled a team mascot in honor of Harrison’s bravery, strength, and determination while he was undergoing some tough treatments. The Pythons mascot, which is used league-wide, has a yellow ribbon for childhood cancer and Harrison’s initials are hidden in the design. Players from all over North America wear the Pythons jersey with pride, showing how truly supportive the entire franchise is of players like Harrison. Harrison’s participation has now created an opportunity for other gamers in similar situations to join the league. Currently, XP League has 36 territories throughout the US and Canada, all of which have an interest in welcoming players like Harrison to join virtually.

As Harrison’s cancer journey continues to inspire all XP League franchise owners and partners, XP League is using its platform to help raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to support those affected by blood cancer. Using the excitement of the annual XP League North American Finals, which will take place in June, XP League is creating a way for players to raise awareness and funds for LLS through the fundraising platform, Tiltify. Fun activations and prizing for teams who raise the most money are some of the ways XP League has “gameafide” a way for their teams to do good. Funds collected during this time will go towards life-saving research, critical support, and resources for blood cancer patients, families, and caregivers. Through its Children’s Initiative, LLS is on a mission to take cancer care to the next level and improve the quality of life for all children with blood cancers.

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