One of the things we like most at the Average Advocate is when we hear a great story of an average person who begins to care then act, even when they don’t really know how to make a difference. This one kid, Austin Gutwein, at only age nine became one of these people. He started learning about how HIV  has horribly scarred Africa. In a nutshell, he decided to shoot some hoops to earn some money. He asked people to give a buck for each hoop he threw. And I am sure, because he was a nice kid and all, people went with it. Little did they know…

Its been a few years since then, but now Austin has a whole organization helping other kids do the same thing. This organization is called Hoops of Hope. I’ve been told they give a whopping 100% of their profits away to assist children. According to their yearly goals, they do this through education, sustainable development projects, and providing international relief. They have also recently expanded beyond Africa, but are assisting in other areas of the world where HIV and poverty are at a high.

When I was a kid I remember doing something called Jump for Heart. Something like that, at least. We jumped-roped, got pledges, and made money for, um, heart disease research? Or maybe it just made us healthy so we wouldn’t have heart attacks at age 10? Probably the later. But I remember it! Maybe I remember it because there were cool prizes, but overall it was one of those great experiences I am convinced all kids should have. Hoops for Hope events work similar to this, but with basketballs instead of jump ropes (and a better cause, in my opinion). Kids get together to shoot 500 free throws. These represent the 500 children orphaned every two hours by HIV/AIDS. Maybe they are gracious to littler kids, though, so they don’t have to shoot so many!

There will be one of these events near where I live in Northern Virginia this Saturday. Here is the skinny:

August 27th, 2011 @ 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Dulles SportsPlex

21610 Atlantic Blvd
Sterling, VA 20166-6853

Apparently there will be food vendors there, which will donate proceeds to Hoops of Hope. If you don’t want to buy food, typically you can be either a volunteer or actually shoot the baskets if you are under age eighteen. But if it is too late to do that (or its not your thing) you can still sponsor a kid who will be there. If you want to help out one of my little buddies, click here. Lastly, you can also be an advocate alongside Hoops of Hope from anywhere you are by either finding an event in your area or actually hosting an event.

Map of Africa coloured according to the percen...

Image via Wikipedia

Again, if you live in Northern Virginia, founder Austin Gutwein can be found speaking at 10:10 a.m. at Broad Run High School at J10 Church (the church I work for). I am excited to hear what he has to say in person.

Would you like to better understand what kind of kids Austin and Hoops of Hope are helping? Check out Kefilwe’s Story to get a glimpse into the life of a child in an HIV-ravaged part of Africa. AIDS has influenced every aspect of these kids’ lives.

Lastly, here is one of the videos showing how Hoops of Hope work found on CBS Sports: