Steven Gonzalez, Jr., founder of The Survivor Games, was first diagnosed with cancer after a camping trip in sixth grade. Now in his early 20s, Gonzalez is drawing on his personal experience to develop a virtual arcade designed to help kids with cancer build friendships, find confidence, and gain strength in a safe, supportive network of peers facing the same health issues. Gonzalez said he was inspired to develop this project because during his treatment he “felt isolation, but video games helped create a sense of normalcy” in his world.
Gonzalez, Jr. talked about his journey with cancer and his project during a seminar sponsored by Cancer Community @ Illinois, the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Initiative, and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. He was joined by Eddie Gonzalez-Novoa, a colleague working with Gonzalez to bring The Survivor Games vision to a much larger community. After the seminar, a roundtable discussion brought together Illinois faculty, staff, and students to explore possible areas of collaboration.