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Southwest Airlines Guitar Heroes

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We have a unique joint post from Robert Champagne in our Maintenance & Engineering Department and Texas Ranger's Pitcher C.J. Wilson.cjcharity014.jpg On February 1, the fifth floor Landing Cafe at Southwest Company Headquarters became home to such bands as Metallica and Poison. Okay, not the real bands but people who put just as much heart and soul into the songs as the real players themselves, and they were doing it for the kids at Cook Children's Hematology and Oncology Outpatient Clinic in Fort Worth.  How and why a Guitar Hero challenge and why did  Southwest Airlines team up with C.J. Wilson from the Texas Rangers? Lets back up a bit so you can see the whole picture. C.J. and I met in 2006 when my son Micah, who has hemophilia, was in the hospital at Cook and the Texas Rangers were visiting the children. Micah took to C.J. not like he was a baseball player but as a friend who cared. You see, C.J. hugged Micah, and he felt that. I will let C.J. explain more of that later. I sent C.J. a letter thanking him for lifting my son's spirits and making him happy again. C.J. and I got to know one another and developed a friendship.  C.J. is a true video game expert and had asked me my thoughts on a video game tournament and what could the money be used for. I immediately thought of Cook Children's, putting video games in a place where kids go to get factor replacement therapy for hemophilia or chemotherapy treatments for leukemia. C.J. was immediately on board. C.J. and I starting putting ideas together. The idea was great but logistically nothing seemed to work, location, available times, schedules nothing! Then I realized--wait a minute I work for Southwest Airlines. I contacted a few people in Public Relations, Facilities, Technology, and Maintenance and Engineering, and boom, I had a Team willing to help. C.J. was able to round up help from GameStop and support from the Texas Rangers, so we were set. So as night fell on Dallas February 1st, the shredding began....I will let C.J. explain more..... Robert ---Rocking Out the Runway @ swa by C.J. Wilson A charity video game tournament?micah-and-cj-3.jpg It really seemed like too easy of a concept at first, throw a charity event centralized on my favorite hobby, and bring joy to kids in the hospital. Could we actually raise money doing that? I knew it would be a blast but was a bit worried. Last summer, with support from GameStop, we threw our first small event at House of Blues as a test case. After two events and some of the typical red tape (no good deed goes unpunished, right?), we learned a lot of what works and what doesn't. Robert and I figured out -even in charity- that cutting out as many middle-men as possible was the only way to roll. So after we had some supporting parties back out (thanks! Haha), we heard that Rob from GameStop and the SWA volunteers still wanted to do the right/honorable/charitable/fun thing- throw it anyway! I was really excited as I'd been losing a lot of sleep and time on this particular event and wanted to come by the hospital like a young Santa Claus (hence my beard but no "cookies and milk" belly) with games and systems. The (insert adjective combining "amazing," "personal," and "caring" and stir with "fun and loose") SWA corporate Officers really opened a lot of doors for us--TV equipment, parking, volunteers, etc., and the crowd (150-200 or so) really combined to blow away the previous events. How to throw a great event: Take one noble cause (in this case building a video game room for Cook Children's Hospital) Add: One pro athlete or more if applicable, one vision of greater purpose for the community Mix with one loving parent with previous charity experience (Robert ) Blend for a few months Add local retail support Add dedicated store manager (Rob at GameStop) Shake well! Now add-- Sensational platform support Multiple plastic guitar controllers Amazingly talented local gamers Supportive Ranger Fans Stunning corporate support from the host (SWA) Send 2500 bulletins through MySpace Make one flyer at Kinkos And finally add five gallons of elbow grease. Bam!cjcharity009.jpgThe news about all this is how much fun people had for those of you that missed it--be ready in April or May...we're coming back to rock even harder! Guitar Hero is a great thing to center around parties, and we had attendees from 6years old to age 70. Making a difference is more fun than you think! C.J. Wilson pro athlete/pro blogger but also good at guitar hero...