Friday, November 30, 2012

Nine Years Ago Today...

November 30, 2004. We were expecting a pretty busy next day, watching our then 5th grader, go out and attempt to shoot 2,057 free throws to represent the number of children who would lose a parent to AIDS during his school day. But honestly, what we didn't expect, is everything that happened next.  You see, we thought Hoops of Hope was just a one day event. I honestly thought Austin would make it through probably half, or maybe a few more shots, and then we'd head out to grab a burger and congratulate him on his success. 

Well, we never did grab that burger. Instead, there were such bigger plans for Hoops of Hope. Plans that we could've never imagined. Plans that would take our family to the corners of the world. Plans that could only be designed by a God who dreams so much bigger than we do. And, here we are...nine years later...still wondering what happened. Still in awe that Hoops of Hope has spread to 27 countries and has involved more than 40,000 young people. Still in awe that a small boys' dream of raising a few thousand dollars has raised enough to help build the only high school in the Kalomo district in southern Zambia. Still in awe that there are dorms in Kenya, a school being built in India, a community center in Malawi, hope centers in Swaziland, and the list goes on. Still in awe that, per the Minister of Education, an entire generation of Zambian Children have been saved because of medical clinics Hoops of Hope funded, now in the region.

And then again, I guess that's the beauty of Hoops of Hope. There never was a "master plan". We've never spent money on marketing. Never tried to create an organization [in fact, we run Hoops of Hope with 1.5 employees].  Never really promoted Hoops of Hope. It happened simply because people cared. It happened because people saw a need, saw an easy and fun way to help, and got involved. And to all of you who have participated in an event, volunteered or donated over the past nine years, thank you. You are the heros. I've met so many of the children you've helped and they are so incredibly thankful. I hope one day, you'll get to meet them too.

As we embark on another World AIDS Day, the needs are as great as ever. We found a small village in remote southern Zambia that has no medical facilities. Literally, if you're ill, you must find a way in a world without transportation, to get approximately 50 miles to the nearest facility. We have a goal in 2013 to build a new and modern medical facility for this village.

In addition to the medical facility, we are currently feeding 1,500 children in Malawi a nutritious meal every day. And, to celebrate our 10th year, we are hoping to provide 10,000 students in Title I schools here in the US with school supplies.  

But we cannot do it without you and I'm hoping you'll join us to celebrate 10 years of changing the game. Check out our new website which was graciously donated in part by Woodward & Zwolinski.  You'll find all the information you'll need to get involved.

Thanks again for everyone who has had a part in Hoops of Hope.  Tomorrow, on World AIDS Day, will you take a moment to remember these children? In fact, head out and shoot a few hoops. I think I will.


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