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    Shooting free throws for AIDS

    Date: 12.03.09 | by Judge Tom.

    Austin Gutwein of Mesa, Arizona was nine years old when he learned that countless children were orphaned because their parents died of AIDS. “It was a fact of imagining living my life without my parents,” he said. “I just couldn’t do it.”


    Photo by Jack Kurtz

    On World AIDS Day in 2004, Austin raised $3000 from family and friends who sponsored him in shooting free throws. He shot 2,057 times – the  number of orphaned children who die each day in Africa.  Austin founded Hoops of Hope, a non-profit organization that has raised over $1.5 million since 2004.

    In December, 2009, close to 50 Hoops of Hope marathons were held around the world. Donations came from the shooters’ sponsors. The money raised has been used to provide school and medical supplies, build a school in Zambia, two medical clinics and a lab, a water system, and hope centers in Swaziland.

    Austin is now 15 years old. He stays busy speaking to teens around the country about how they can make a difference. He is home-schooled and plans to return to regular school next year. In the meantime, he is working on a nationwide 12-city free-throw festival in 2010 with hopes of raising $6 million.

    AustinGutweinBookAustin recently published “Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself” which talks about how you too can make a difference. For more about Austin’s goals and how to support Hoops of Hope, see www.hoopsofhope.org.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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