Every once in a while a story comes along that inspires the kid in all of us. The story of 9-year old Caine Monroy and his cardboard arcade is one of those tales: Inspiring millions of people, young and old, Caine’s Arcade has sparked innovation and imagination across the world.
The arcade itself is unassuming – housed in an industrial shop in East Los Angeles, with only a sweet little swing hanging from a tree out front to betray the presence of the imaginative little boy inside, Caine created an elaborate arcade with multiple games, a prize wall and an office using cardboard from his father’s auto parts shop. Caine added to his arcade over his summer vacation, making new games, creating a ticketing system and crafting prize bags for big winners. The only thing missing from the arcade was a customer -- with relatively little foot traffic in the area, customers were hard to come by. But read on to see how this enterprising effort has become a global sensation.
Everything changed when Nirvan Mullick serendipitously entered the picture. While searching for parts for his car, Nirvan stopped by the auto parts shop and purchased a Fun Pass, which got him 500 turns in the arcade, for two dollars. Both Nirvan and Caine didn’t know it, but that was the beginning of an adventure that would expand across the globe.
Nirvan decided to create a flash mob to patronize Caine’s Arcade and hopefully raise $25,000 towards Caine’s college education. He filmed the event and posted it on the Internet. Within the first day, they had raised over $100,000. Within a few months, Caine’s story had been featured in countless magazines, news stories and TV Shows. All across the world, children posted their response to Caine, showing him their own Caine-inspired creations.
As a result of the overwhelming response, The Imagination Foundation was established “to find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in kids.” To help kick start the fund, the Goldhirsh Foundation pledged a $250,000 matching donation to the foundation. To date, the fun has reached nearly $220,000.
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the day that started it all, on October 6 2012, the Global Cardboard Challenge was launched, inviting people across the planet to get involved in fostering “creativity and entrepreneurship in kids.”
Watch the amazing story in two parts on YouTube and download the Caine’s Arcade Theme Song – all proceeds from the song support the Imagination Foundation.