Twitch streamer Pestily raises $1 million for Starlight Foundation

A former Australian Army infantryman has raised more than a million dollars to help sick kids by streaming himself playing video games on Twitch.

Paul “Pestily” Licari didn’t really know what to do with himself after eight years in the military.

“I quit the army and most of my friends were married with kids, didn’t really game anymore just had their own lives, and I didn’t really have a lot of friends at all,” Paul told

“As a 30-year-old male you can’t just go down the pub and be like ‘G’day mate’, it doesn’t really work like that.

“I enjoyed computer games so I started streaming on Twitch purely as a way to make friends and meet new people, it was never a career path.”

Paul is one of eight children, which he said is the reason he’s community-minded and interested in helping others, and why he joined the army after an attempt at becoming a firefighter didn’t pan out.

He did eventually spend around a year as a firefighter after leaving the army but gave it up when his wife got a new job and the couple had to relocate. She’s now his manager.

Instead, he ended up going full-time as a Twitch streamer, which has provided him another opportunity to help.

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The Starlight Foundation, a charity that “grants wishes” for sick children, has a running partnership with games retailer EB Games to raise money.

Paul teamed up with other streamers as part of the Game Changers initiative, raising $25,000.

“I think it turned out to be one of those mutually beneficial moments,” Starlight CEO Louise Baxter told

“He got some additional people following him and it raised funds for Starlight kids.”

Ms Baxter said gaming has long been part of the charity’s work.

“Since we originally had our Starlight Express rooms we’ve had gaming as part of our offering, we’re talking about 1991. I think we had Nintendos … this is going back a long time before everybody brought their own device in,” she said.

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The great thing about gaming, according to Ms Baxter, is that it can help distract the kids from their circumstances.

“They become so intent on what they’re doing they can forget about the fact they have cancer, they’re undergoing chemo and have surgeries coming up, all that stuff.”

Game Changers is running again this year from August 13 until August 30, but Paul has had his eyes set on a much bigger challenge after spending time coming up with a “crazy” goal for 2020: to raise $1 million for the Starlight Foundation.

He picked the charity because of the help it had provided the family of a close friend who’s younger sister died of cancer around a decade ago.

“After I had a conversation with him I researched more about Starlight and what they do.”

He said he called them up and pitched the idea towards the end of last year.

“They were all on holidays but they came back into the office and we started planning and got it organised.”

Since then he’s streamed more than 1400 hours, and while it’s only August he’s already passed the $1 million goal.

He did it predominantly streaming the hardcore Russian mil-sim Escape From Tarkov, a frightfully difficult and unforgiving game.

“It’s very full on, it’s very difficult to play. A lot of people pick up the game and struggle straight away.”

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He began making tutorials to help others get into the game on YouTube, guiding viewers towards his Twitch stream as well as success in the game.

This helped him gain a sizeable following of more than 614,000, one he said manages to avoid the toxic elements that can put some people off the gaming community.

“They’re just looking for people to hang out with, who like the same things in life. They like computer games, we talk about random things: military to sport, movies, it’s a community.

“It’s just a nice place to hang out where people feel very safe and welcome, and from that they also feel very generous to helping a cause that I’m passionate about.

“It’s nice to know there are people in the community who are invested in that way and they’re actually enjoying it … I don’t get very much hate.”

His mammoth fundraising efforts haven’t been a walk in the park though, and his sessions sometimes stretch as long as 44 hours.

“You need to have a balance, you need to figure out how you’re going to play the game cognitively for that long while also communicating with your chat, that can be exhausting because it’s like reading a book,” he said.

“You’ve gotta conserve your energy.”

Ms Baxter said Paul’s fundraising work has been a monumental effort far out from what the charity typically expects.

“It’s big, in my whole time at Starlight in one year there’s probably only one other donation this size and that’s someone who swam the English Channel for it, we don’t usually have this size of donation.”

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Every one of our dinners, balls, bike rides, all of those have been cancelled,” Ms Baxter said.

“We’re still granting our wishes but not the ones that include travel.”

While Paul has hit his goal, he’s not stopping there.

“I said to Starlight I’d be fundraising for the entire the year and I’m sticking by my word with that … I’m the kind of person who likes to think bigger and better and greater things, I don’t want to give anything away yet but I’ve got some fun ideas for next year,” he teased.

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