Nonprofit Takes Graphic Approach to Awareness, Launches Video Game Drive

A local nonprofit is taking a graphic approach to spreading awareness about its cause and to help underprivileged children.

Try video game graphics.

Joshua Joel SMA Life Inc. will launch its Give6 video game drive on July 10 at a ribbon cutting ceremony downtown.

The ceremony, to be held at 710 N. Main St. at 4:30 p.m., will double as the official launch of the drive as well as the inaugural initiative of the organization.

The drive will last until November and is in memory of Joshua Joel Fletcher, who would’ve turned six this year. He died last year of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the No. 1 genetic killer of infants and toddlers.

Patrice Fletcher, Joshua’s mother and president of the organization, came up with the idea for the drive.

“It just turned out that his birthday would have been in June, six months before Christmas,” said organization spokeswoman Shareen Baptiste, “and she just wanted to do something to give back to the community.”

Baptiste said the organization is looking for donations of video game consoles and games geared toward children ages 1 to 15. She said that could include DS5, Wii, Playstation and even Leapfrog consoles and games. Mature-rated games or games that include excessive violence will not be accepted.

Donations can be taken to three drop points: O2B Kids Super Center at 6680 W. Newberry Road, Children’s Home Society Family Treasures Thrift at 710 N. Main St., and Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce at 300 E. University Ave.

Ian Fletcher, Joshua’s father, said the organization hopes to spread awareness about Spinal Muscular Atrophy while bringing smiles to needy children with the video games.

He said that because of the rarity of the disease, many children are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. So, he said, one of his organization’s main goals is to promote greater awareness about symptoms and ways for families to cope with it.

“One of those things we came across most in the medical community was a lot of the nurses and doctors had never heard of the disease before,” he said. “Only a few people come across it.”

After the drive concludes in November, the video games will be given to local underprivileged children as holiday gifts.

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