Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Basketball shoot-a-thon will help kids orphaned by AIDS

NORTH TAMPA — Shoot a free throw, help local charities and orphans in Africa.

On Thursday, hundreds of basketball enthusiasts who have enlisted sponsors' pledges will gather to shoot free throws during Hoops of Hope. The event is sponsored by USF's Student Global AIDS Campaign.

Organization president Jordan Markel said he first learned about Hoops of Hope while watching a TV presentation by its founder, Austin Gutwein.

"He was only 10 years old when he heard about all of these children suffering and being orphaned by AIDS, and he decided to do something about it," said Markel, a junior majoring in biology.

Gutwein went on to shoot 2,057 free throws on World AIDS Day 2004 — one shot for each child who would be orphaned that day. Many people sponsored Gutwein, who raised almost $3,000 through that effort alone.

Since then, thousands of people have participated in similar basketball shoot-a-thons, and Gutwein's group has collected more than $450,000. The funds are given to World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, to help provide food, clothing, and shelter for those orphaned by AIDS as well as to a new school and a medical testing facility in Zambia, Africa.

The USF event is unique in that Gutwein, now 14, will be the evening's guest speaker.

It's especially energizing to have Gutwein speaking, said Jennifer Smith, the director of the United Methodist campus ministry at USF and one of the event's planners.

"You know we're going to have a lot of schoolchildren who will be participating as shooters, and I'm so excited that they'll have the chance to hear him," she said. "Letting the kids see someone their own age shows them that just because you're young doesn't mean you can't make a difference."

Smith saw the devastation AIDS causes when she visited South Africa last year.

Thirty percent of the children had only one living parent because the other parent had died from AIDS, while 70 percent were raising themselves because both parents had died from the disease.

"The kids have no family anymore," she said. "I want them to know that they matter in this world. They matter to me, and they matter to God."

In addition to the basketball shooting, the Hoops of Hope event will also include face painting, a silent auction, and an opportunity to interact with therapy dogs. The USF basketball team will be on hand to greet the participants and spectators. The shooters get free food provided by St. James Methodist Church in New Tampa.

The proceeds will be divided among Hoops of Hope, which gets 50 percent, with the rest shared evenly by local charities Cardiostart International and the Francis House.

"We wanted to make sure we included the local community so we could have a positive impact right here at home, too," Markel said.

The Hoops of Hope event will be held from 4 to 10 p.m. at the USF Recreational Center on E Fowler Avenue. Gutwein, of Phoenix, will speak at 6:30.

The deadline to sign up, either as a team or an individual shooter, is midnight Nov. 2. Sponsors may pledge money until midnight on the day of the event. For more information contact Markel at or visit

Sheryl Kay can be reached at or 813-230-8788.

Basketball shoot-a-thon will help kids orphaned by AIDS 10/30/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 30, 2008 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle
  2. Death toll, humanitarian crisis grow in Puerto Rico


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A humanitarian crisis grew Saturday in Puerto Rico as towns were left without fresh water, fuel, power or phone service following Hurricane Maria's devastating passage across the island.

    Crew members assess electrical lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Friday in Puerto Rico. Mobile communications systems are being flown in but “it’s going to take a while.”
  3. N. Korea says strike against U.S. mainland is 'inevitable'


    North Korea's foreign minister warned Saturday that a strike against the U.S. mainland is "inevitable" because President Donald Trump mocked leader Kim Jong Un with the belittling nickname "little rocketman."

  4. All-eyes photo gallery: Florida State Seminoles loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack


    View a gallery of images from the Florida State Seminoles 27-21 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will face Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    Florida State Seminoles fans sing the fight song during the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  5. Helicopter, small aircraft collide at Clearwater Air Park


    CLEARWATER — Two people suffered minor injuries after a helicopter and a small aircraft collided late Saturday afternoon at Clearwater Air Park, 1000 N Hercules Ave.

    Clearwater Fire Department emergency personal douse a plane with fire retardant after the plane crashed into a helicopter at Clearwater Air Park 1000 N Hercules Ave. Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. According to Clearwater Fire two people sustained minor injuries. [Photo by Clearwater Fire Department]