When Austin Gutwein was 9 years old, he had an African pen pal who shared stories about life in Africa — including some not-so-fun stories about children who had lost their parents to AIDS. Austin couldn't get those orphaned kids out of his head. He decided that he just had to do something to help. In partnership with World Vision, Austin founded Hoops for Hope as a way for kids to change the game for orphaned kids in Africa.

That was 10 years ago. Austin is now 19 years old, but he is still working hard to see that the foundation makes a difference. The idea behind Hoops for Hope is simple: it's like a walk-a-thon but instead of walking, the kids involved shoot basketball free-throw shots at their local school, church or gym. At Austin's first Hoops For Hope event, he shot 2,057 free throws in honor of the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned that day, according to data compiled by the United Nations.

Since that first event, thousands of people have joined Austin by hosting basketball shoot-a-thons in their own communities in conjunction with Hoops of Hope. Over the past 10 years, the organization has raised more than $2.5 million, bringing food, clothing, shelter, a new school, four dormitories, a computer lab, teacher houses, and two medical testing facilities to kids in Africa and now also India.

Here's a video of Austin at age 12 explaining how he got the idea for Hoops for Hope and why he feels so strongly about helping other kids:

If you've got a kid who loves to play hoops, this might be a great way for them to have fun while helping other kids. Check out Hoops for Hope to find out how to get involved.

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Playing hoops brings hope to African kids
Austin Gutwein founded Hoops for Hope when he was 9 to help orphaned children in poor countries.