PHOTO BY THOMAS METTHE, THOMAS METTHE/REPORTER-NEWS
Chloe Skiles, 9 (left), and her sister, Courtney, 7, shoot baskets Saturday during the Hoops of Hope fundraiser benefiting AIDS orphans in Zambia.
“Take Your Best Shot” is the title of the book that inspired Alyssa Presley to do just that.
Alyssa, 16, decided to take her best shot at organizing an event and rounding up sponsors to benefit children in Zambia who are suffering from AIDS.
The result of Alyssa’s six-month effort was visible Saturday when youngsters gathered at First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center to shoot hoops from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The shoot-a-thon raised more than $1,000 to benefit Hoops of Hope, an organization built on the determination of a 9-year-old boy in Mesa, Ariz., to help children in Africa.
The book, “Take Your Best Shot,” by Todd Hilliard, tells the story of Austin Gutwein’s determination to make a difference in the world. Six years ago, when Austin was 9, he came up with the shoot-a-thon idea, similar to a walk-a-thon, as a way to raise money.
Hoops of Hope now bills itself as “the largest free throw shoot-a-thon in the world.”
Alyssa, who is home-schooled by her parents, Ted and Lisa Presley, loves basketball and decided that she could join Austin’s efforts after reading the book.
“I had some hard times planning, but I definitely was blessed,” Alyssa said.
She started in May by locating a gym and picking a date for the event. That was followed by rounding up sponsors who agreed to donate money to children who would shoot free throws all day. Other sponsors donated coupons as prizes for contests during the day.
Before Saturday arrived, Alyssa already had raised more than $1,000 to send to Hoops of Hope. She was pleased enough with her first effort that she said she’ll try again next year.
And Alyssa got some benefit from the shoot-a-thon herself. Her home-school team plays area high school teams during basketball season. Alyssa loves to play defense and admits she’s not as good on offense.
So Saturday’s event gave her the opportunity to do a good deed and get in a little practice at the same time. “I’m not that good at free throws,” she said. “That’s why I’m working on it.”
To learn more about Hoops of Hope, go to www.hoopsofhope.org.
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