Shooting free throws for AIDS
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.”
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.
Austin 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.