Free Throws That Can Change Lives - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Free Throws That Can Change Lives

Hoops of Hope foundation holding banner event in the area to raise money for HIV/AIDS orphans in Africa

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Austin Gutwein is only a teenager but his vision -- and desire to shoot a basketball -- has helped fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and beyond. (Published Friday, June 18, 2010)

    Think shooting a free throw to win a NBA championship is a big deal? How about making a shot that could help change the lives of a generation of orphans?

    You can have that chance at an upcoming event called Hoops of Hope.

    Started by 16-year-old Austin Gutwein, Hoops of Hope raises funds for children on the African continent who've been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

    Since the first Hoops of Hope event in 2003, Gutwein and his foundation have hosted scores of events attracting thousands of participants from 17 countries and raising more than $1.8 million.

    But this year, Hoops of Hope's kicking its campaign into high gear with a special event and concert in our area.

    The Hoops of Hope All-Stars festival and concert will take over the King of Prussia Mall on July 31 with the hopes of raising $200,000. That money will be used to build schools and clinics in Zambia, located in the heart of sub-Saharan Africa.

    Recently back from a two-week stint on the continent, Gutwein realized how much fighting for this cause has affected his life.

    "It’s definitely changed my life and the fact that it’s made me a more caring person, and it’s helped me to encourage others as well, I really enjoy doing it." Gutwein said.

    The event -- which is billed as the worlds largest free-throw festival -- is free to the public and features 75 basketball courts, kids zones, a vendor plaza with food, a celebrity basketball shootout and a main stage concert in the evening featuring Francesca Battistelli and The Afters.

    So far, about 1,000 people registered, but there's plenty of room left. Every teen that participates is encouraged to raise $250 or more for their chance to shoot baskets.

    Gutwein will be in KOP Saturday to help register more people for the festival.

    For more information on Hoops of Hope All-Star Festival visit  HoopsofHopeAllStars.com.