Hoopsters: sink shots to prevent AIDS

April 6, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Shooting hoops to save the world? It may sound too good to be true, but Hoops of Hope is coming to the Issaquah Community Center from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. April 18 and you can make difference.The Issaquah Youth Advisory Board is inviting adults and children of all ages to sink 3-pointers to raise money for a new medical center in Zambia to help fight AIDS.

“The U.N. says that every 14 seconds a child is orphaned from AIDS, so it is a big issue,” said Cathy Jones, Youth Advisory Board mentor for the city. “The money raised from this specifically will help build a medical testing lab, and to purchase bicycles so that medical personnel can bike from town to town with supplies.”

“People should get involved because this is an amazing opportunity to help others. It is easy for us, and yet it will help change lives,” Anna Magidson, the board member who coordinated the event, wrote in an e-mail. “They say one person can make a difference, and I truly believe that.”

Hoops of Hope is a nonprofit organization, based in Arizona, started by Austin Gutwein, 14, after he watched a video of orphans in Africa whose parents died of AIDS in 2004. On World AIDS Day that year, Austin shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who were orphaned during his day at school. He raised nearly $3,000 and Hoops of Hope was born.

The goal of Hoops of Hope, with help from World Vision, is to build medical facilities in Zambia for AIDS prevention, testing and care, and to provide funding for schools and orphanages that care for the 6,000 children who are orphaned each day as a result of AIDS.

After hearing Austin speak at a youth conference in Bellevue last spring, Magidson said she decided it was time to get involved.

“He was my age, and yet spoke deeply and with passion about his topic, inspiring me,” she wrote. “I realized that something as easy as shooting hoops can help hundreds of people.”

For the hours she has committed to the event, she was awarded the President’s Volunteer Award March 5. The award was presented by Issaquah School Superintendent Steve Rasmussen and Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus Principal Dana Bailey on behalf of President Obama.

Whether you sign up online early and fundraise, or drop in the day of the event with a donation, everyone is welcome to participate. It is also an excellent way for students to get in required school community service hours before the end of the year.

Magidson and Jones have reserved the community center’s courts and Issaquah Middle School’s basketball courts for the event, to accommodate anyone who wants to participate, Jones said.

“Helping one another is necessary. Living here, in the States, it is very hard to place ourselves into a position of a child in Africa who lost his parents to a disease,” Anna wrote. “However, if only we could, I believe we would all be inspired to help. The will to help is what I hope to pass to others.”

How to help



Sign up

www.facebook.com and search for “Hoops of Hope Issaquah”

Show up

10 a.m. – 5 p.m. April 18 at the Issaquah Community Center, 301 Rainier Blvd.

Learn more

Go to www.hoopsofhope.org

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