Most, if not all, entrepreneurs have a vision of changing the world and making millions or billions of dollars. The desire to change the world certainly fits Van Alstyne resident Jacob Bonnema and his wife Kelly. The Bonnemas, and partners Bob and Erin Botsford of McKinney, have founded Desert River Games, a philanthropic gaming concept through Facebook. DRG is a "Gaming is Giving" company that they hope will make a difference for the millions of orphans world wide.
Former McKinney residents who moved north for the wide open spaces, the Bonnemas felt moved to do something to make a difference, and they found their inspiration right in their own home through their 18-year-old daughter Covey.
Seven years ago, Jacob and Kelly traveled to Ethiopia to adopt Covey, an orphan. Bonnema said that walking away with Covey was a joyous experience, but one that also left the two filled with a sense of sadness as they left hundreds of other children, all of whom were waiting for a permanent home, behind. Bonnema further explained that Covey, who didn't know one word of English when they adopted her, is now a flourishing junior at Van Alstyne High School.
"She (Covey) has shown so much love, she was our inspiration (for pursing an avenue to help orphans)," Bonnema said.
That inspiration has culminated in the concept, "Gaming is Giving," and the launch of their first Facebook game, Safari Challenge.
"We wanted to make a simple, but meaningful way for the whole world to help a well known problem - that being the 150 million orphans in the world. We looked at different options and then looked at Facebook because they have over 1 billion users. A massive number of people are playing games on FB. I thought, 'How powerful would it be if we could harness the waste of time and money and could harness this in a positive way to help the real world?' " Bonnema said.
"We looked at different options, but social games are a fantastic way to accomplish goals together," Bonnema said.
The official Beta launch of Safari Challenge will take place on Monday, January 21, and the first 1,000 Facebook users who "like" the page will have the opportunity to play the game and give feedback Bonnema said.
The game is free to players. DRG has secured humanitarian aid organizations in Africa as partners which will prove the real meals, water, playgrounds and other much needed essentials for orphaned children.
Bonnema said, "Our goal is to be very transparent with all of our players. They will be able to see on a daily basis how much is donated by everyone who is participating in the game."
DRG plans to launch future games where every click counts to help provide funding for orphans all over the world, from South America to Asia to India.
DRG partner Erin Botsford said, “Bob and I have been supporting water and orphan projects in Africa for a number of years. The need is so great and the resources are so scarce. When we were approached with this idea, it presented an opportunity for us to leverage our dollars in hopes of creating a much larger and more steady stream of revenue to support what others are already doing in Africa. We believe we are called to be good stewards of our money and support others who are willing to get their hands dirty. We hope others will join us in our efforts to make Safari Challenge hugely successful!”
Finding players to engage in the game shouldn't be difficult. Indeed, a small team of individuals who live right in our backyard may be spearheading an idea that will lead to making the entire world a better place, one child at a time.