Joe Manganiello Schools Patients in Dungeons and Dragons at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital

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BY January 17, 2020

He’s been a sexy werewolf, a sexy dancer, and (arguably) a sexy Deathstroke in Justice League. Yet, Joe Manganiello is also a big-time fan of tabletop role-playing games, as well as a board member for hospital for children in his hometown. Last year, Joe Manganiello donated a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons starter kits to the patients in Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Not only that, he and his brother Nick sat down with a trio of kids and started them on a campaign that took them away from their convalescence and into a world of magic.

The patients were all beginners when it comes to Dungeons and Dragons, but the brother Manganiello patiently explained the rules. The game lasted for a few hours, and by the end the kids were entranced. They cheered after “battles” (rolling the game’s dice) and fully immersed themselves in their imagined characters. Once mocked for it’s “nerdiness,” fans of this game are found throughout business and entertainment today. Joe Manganiello and his passion for Dungeons and Dragons showed the patients in Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh it can be very a cool pastime.

As he told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last January:

“I think at the heart of this game, it’s about immersion, and it’s about being able to step out of reality for a little while. And when it comes to Children’s Hospital and kids, here for a while, I think that becomes really necessary….

“There is one boy I think will probably become dungeon master by 5 o’clock this afternoon. He’s well on his way.”

What makes this game so fun for folks is that you essentially create your own story starring your own character. It makes sense that writers, actors, and other creative folks honed their artistic skills playing Dungeons and Dragons, among other games. In sharing this game with these kids, many who struggle with life-threatening situations, he provides them an escape. They aren’t recovering from lung transplants or cancer treatment but are powerful mages or warriors on a quest to defeat evil.

Joe Manganiello does far more for Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh than simply playing Dungeons and Dragons with patients. Since 2016, he’s sat on the board of trustees for the hospital. As the honorary chair for the Masterpiece of Hope Campaign, he raises funds for a unique area of treatment. Along with medical treatment, children can participate in the Creative and Expressive Arts Therapy program. This focuses not just on physical health, but also the social, emotional, and mental health of patients and families.

Did you ever play Dungeons and Dragons growing up? Share your best D&D stories in the comments below.

Featured image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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