Anthropomorphic animals threw successive pies at a towering robot rotating on tank treads, and Michael Mairs thanked his viewers for each donation he saw.
Mairs — or “Smirky,” as his viewers know him — was streaming himself playing video games in hopes of attracting donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
As of Monday afternoon, he’d helped raise more than $25,000 for the hospital since he started fundraising for it in 2018.
Reached by phone Monday, Mairs said he considers his time spent streaming video games as a sort of part-time job or a serious hobby. His full-time job, so to speak, is his work as a student at the University of North Texas.
He recently finished up his sophomore year as a communications major. He said he hopes to be able to stream full-time in a few years, but he’s focused more on school for now.
Video game streaming has become increasingly popular over the past few years. Internet personalities will stream themselves playing a variety of video games, and viewers will periodically toss some money their way.
In Mairs’ case, donors were able to choose from a variety of different options depending on the size of their donation. Over a roughly 30-minute window Friday, Mairs pied himself in the face, did jumping jacks and wrote a viewer’s name inside a book.
He kept things jovial as he made his way through Kaboom Cliffs in Toontown, a video game released in 2003, making frequent soft pleas for donations. He supports the hospital for the ordinary altruistic reasons, but the fundraising campaign is also personal in a way.
Faith, a 10-year-old cousin of his, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in September. The rare type of cancer attacks bones and the soft tissue surrounding them. She sought treatment from a St. Jude affiliate this past December.
“I’m not doing this for me,” Mairs told his viewers Friday. “I’m not doing this for self-gain or something like that. I play for Faith, for my dog Athena I lost this past week who died of cancer.”
Mairs is himself a cancer survivor, though his run-in was of a significantly less life-altering than it has been for many children being treated by St. Jude’s.
He had a fairly common variety of skin cancer fixed by a single surgery during his senior year of high school. It left him with a scar running down the left side of his nose.
“For me, it was just kind of a one-and-done thing,” he said.
His initial fundraising goal for this cycle was $10,000, but he passed the $14,000 mark Sunday, making him the 22nd most successful fundraiser this cycle. He hopes his community of “Smirksters” can push him over the $15,000 milestone by the time the cycle ends on May 31.
MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.