What a ride. Fellow game inventor Peggy Brown and I launched a Crowdrise campaign for our friend and fellow game designer, John Spinello in October of 2014. He needed an operation he couldn’t afford and we were in a position to help. So we set a goal of raising $25,000 for him and believed that we’d get there. Yet afterwards, we were all left feeling grateful, exhausted and reeling with the thought, “Did that really happen?"
After the Huffington Post broke the news, other media outlets picked up on it and soon John’s story was unfolding on Good Morning America, Inside Edition, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. John flew to L.A. to appear on The Doctors. Within 9 days the campaign raised the $25,000 and didn’t stop until it topped $32,000! Hasbro, who quietly supported the campaign from the start, came forward and agreed to buy John’s original prototype to Operation, the one he sold for $500 to a toy development firm in 1964. The New York Times called. NBC Nightly News covered the story a second time and The Today Show came to John’s house. We heard from thousands of people all over the world who love Operation. Over 1,200 people donated and wrote to John to thank him for the fun. Some wrote to thank him for the inspiration:
"I guess I really enjoyed honing my skills on that board game. I’m currently a Clinical Professor of Surgery at Northwestern University Medical School…still trying to avoid that buzzer!!! Thanks for all the joy you’ve provided, all the careers you’ve launched, and (this is not a stretch!), all the lives you’ve probably saved."
“I played with it for hours on end! Today I am a nurse with grown children of my own… the game sparked my curiosity in science and learning, which eventually set me on the path to choosing healthcare as a profession.”
“I remember playing your game…and wondering what it would really be like to be a doctor. I’m now a straight A student pursuing my dream of becoming a doctor. I’m eternally grateful.”
“Thanks to you my brother and I decided to be doctors (it was the first gift my mother gave to him in Italy and then I played too!), and he works as a surgeon in Italy and I work in NY!”
“My sister and I played your game countless times growing up. As it turned out, maybe you had an influence on us because we are now both doctors!”
“Everyone in the medical field–myself included–have [your] creation to thank, for sparking the flame in us!”
When the 15th or 20th medical professional wrote with similar refrains, Peggy and I knew we had to make a film. How we play and what we play with as kids effects who we become. That's a conviction worth spreading. We'll be announcing where the film will be debuting in a few weeks!