Battle Bus Bonanza treating sick Kiwi kids to celebrity Fortnite tournament

A former nurse is battling the loneliness and isolation children with cancer suffer using video games.

The Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand Fortnite Battle Bus Bonanza will treat Kiwi kids afflicted with blood cancer to a celebrity Fortnite tournament featuring basketball stars, nurses, doctors and esport pros.

Conceived by Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) regional manager Tim Maifeleni, the competition followed a successful project to connect kids via video games in the oncology ward at Starship Hospital.

The popular 100-player battle royale game will see children, their family, doctors and nurses play alongside the Sky Sport Breakers basketball team, Black Sheep esport pros and Mai FM radio DJs.

A former nurse at the Starship Hospital, Maifeleni, a keen gamer himself, introduced a pilot programme where a Playstation 4 was loaned to kids who had to be in isolation due to their illness.

He said the programme was so successful a grant was secured to fit out each of the 19 rooms with a PS4.

“One thing that’s really important to children is their social connections with their peers,” he said. “It helps patients make friends with each other through the walls.”

Maifeleni said a lack of white blood cells prevents the children from speaking to each other in person.

“It helps them share stories and experiences. They can play with friends at home and play with others in the hospital,” he said.

“Seeing the kids with cancer interacting with their friends – they become a whole different person. When people are happy, when they have their friends and social interaction, they cope better with treatment. It lifts their mood.”

He said the project went so well they decided to make an event of it. He approached LBC’s charity partner, the Breakers basketball team, who were “stoked” to get on board. 

Hosted from the Breakers esport dojo in Auckland, doctors from Starship Hospital, the Christchurch Children’s Haematology Oncology Centre, along with nurses, siblings, parents and patients will be joined by Breakers players, radio DJs and professional esport stars to battle in the three-game tournament.

And all the ups-and-downs from the popular battle royale will be live-streamed on Twitch to an audience of friends and family. A bevy of prizes from the generous sponsors will also be doled out to the winners on the day, as well as spot prizes for stand-out players.

“It’s about making the kids happy,” Maifeleni said. “We’re just trying to have some fun and, hopefully, it will turn into a regular thing.”


For more tournament details, and information on how to take part, visit https://www.leukaemia.org.nz/events/battle-bus-bonanza/

ProducerJosh Swift
Matt Brown
Kiwi journo Matt “nipple” Brown loves spinning a yarn in a deathmatch server and telling interesting tales. Easily confused, he tends to ask more questions than people are generally comfortable with.

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