People play video games for a lot of different reasons. Any gamer you ask will tell you something different when asked why they play. For some, it’s all about the story,  while others may say it’s all about playing online with friends. But if you asked Gabe why he plays, he would tell you that he plays to go on adventures, and do things he never could in real life.

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Gabe and his brother Jaime are gamers with a special story, and an amazing reason to play. Gabe was born with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD), which limited what he could do as a child. So he and his older brother would play games together, saving princesses, exploring dungeons, and catching Pokemon. Gabe enjoyed all kinds of games, but he was a Nintendo fan at heart, according to his brother, “he is a Nintendo fan, first and foremost. His room is filled with memorabilia, and Pokemon and Zelda are pretty much his favorite things in the universe.” Generally people with CHD don’t live past their teen years, but Gabe was a fighter all along, whether dealing with medical issues or playing video games. With the hype that surrounded the Nintendo Switch, as well as the release of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, excitement for the latest game in the series was mounting for everyone, but it was a bittersweet idea for this gamer.

 

“He has been eagerly anticipating Zelda: Breath of the Wild, however the chances of him living to see its release are not great.”

 

Jaime and his mother got the idea of contacting Nintendo in the hopes that Gabe might be given the chance to play an early build of the game which was a massive part of his childhood, but found no success. In a last ditch effort, Jaime turned to Reddit in October, and posted in the Nintendo subreddit, asking for help or advice. People were touched by the passion of a man trying to help his brother achieve a dream, and were more than happy to help. The post was highlighted by admins of the subreddit, and quickly gained momentum, with over 3000 upvotes, and hundreds of people commenting and offering advice based on professional and personal experiences. As the original post grew, Jaime updated it to announce that within just a few hours he had been contacted by Nintendo’s social media team, and things were starting to fall into place.

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Three months later, Jaime returned to the Nintendo subreddit to share what had happened since his last post. A few weeks after Reddit stepped up and helped, Gabe and his mother found themselves in Nintendo of America’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Gabe got to experience the trip of a lifetime, touring Nintendo headquarters, meeting some of the people who helped shape his childhood, and even getting to meet Mario. Before he left, Gabe was given a Zelda backpack full of goodies, including a signed poster and a brand new Pokémon Sun and Moon 3ds. To top it all off, he got his wish, and got his hands on an early build of Breath of the Wild on the WiiU.

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Gabe unfortunately passed away in January of this year, shortly after his 27th birthday. Thanks to a loving brother, and the kindness of strangers on a website however, he got to be a hero one last time. And the immense reach of his story has helped to bring CHD to light for a lot of people, and has served to highlight The Children’s Heart Research Guild, a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching this illness. This is a fitting legacy for a young man, and a comforting thought for the mother and brother he left behind.

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If you would like to read more about the Reddit posts which lead to this incredible story, they can be read HERE and HERE. Or if you would like to see a gallery of pictures from Gabe’s adventures at Nintendo HQ, then click HERE.

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