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Arizona Youth Urges Thousands to Join Him for World AIDS Day Activities In December




SEATTLE, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Next week, in an effort to fight the global spread of HIV/AIDS, thousands nationwide will take part in Hoops of Hope, the world's largest free throw shooting marathon. At the heart of the movement is 15-year-old Austin Gutwein from Mesa, Arizona. The event is part of World AIDS Day activities on Saturday, December 5th at many locations across America. Austin will be at a Hoops of Hope event in Hartford, Connecticut the first week of December. That week, thousands of kids and adults nationwide will shoot free throws in an effort to raise money and AIDS awareness. World AIDS Day is Tuesday, December 1st.

In the past year, Austin has traveled to four continents, met thousands of supporters and has helped raise more than $1.6 million to fight the global spread of HIV/AIDS with World Vision, an international relief and development organization. Now Gutwein is urging all Americans to get involved. In his inspirational new book, "Take Your Best Shot" (Thomas Nelson Publisher) Gutwein shares the remarkable story of how one kid really can make a difference. Gutwein, a tireless crusader for 15 million AIDS orphans worldwide (More than 12 million in Africa) has already traveled to Zambia, Rwanda and Uganda, witnessing the dedication of schools and medical clinics his Arizona-based non-profit, Hoops of Hope helped build. In 2010, he plans to return to Zambia where his work has had the most impact.

Next year, Austin will be part of a nationwide campaign challenging Americans to shoot 15 million free throws, representing one for every child left orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Spring, 2010, Hoops of Hope is hosting a 12-city tour called Hoops of Hope All-Stars, the world's largest free throw shooting contest. Each day-long event features 3,000 free throw shooters taking 500 shots each and 8,000 attendees. There will also be a competitive three-on-three basketball tournament.

In 2004, moved by his Christian faith, Austin was captivated by a World Vision video telling the story of a little girl named Maggie who lived in Zambia in Southern Africa. She lost almost everyone she loved to the AIDS pandemic that left nearly a million children orphaned. Austin was changed forever, and decided to do something about it. He used something he loved: basketball. Hoops of Hope was born. For the past six years, Gutwein has worked with World Vision to help children and families in need.

Take Your Best Shot (ISBN: 9781400315154, $12.99, September 2009) with a forward from Luke Ridnour, player for NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, captures Austin's amazing adventure, one that has taken him to Rwanda, Zambia, Uganda, China, Europe, and the Middle East. Austin challenges readers to go on an adventure of their own and to take their best shot while highlighting others around the world who are making a difference.

"Something is happening with our generation. Kids are really trying to make a difference in their world. They're reaching out to people in need, and they're getting out of their comfort zone," Austin writes. "Something is happening in their hearts: they want to take their best shot at this life; they want to do something bigger than themselves."

Today, thousands of kids and adults around the world join Austin to raise money for AIDS orphans in Africa. There were over 230 events worldwide last year. Hoops of Hope has raised over $1.4 million dollars and joined with world relief organization World Vision to build a high school and medical clinic in Zambia through their shoot-a-thons. The story of Hoops of Hope has been seen twice on NBC Nightly News "Making a Difference", NBC Today, on CBS Sports before the 2008 NCAA Final Four tip-off, and on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

Austin Gutwein was moved when he learned there were more than 15 million children orphaned by HIV/AIDS globally. He organized a free-throw marathon and now his organization, Hoops of Hope, has raised over a million dollars to build a high school and medical clinics in Zambia. Austin has shared his story with over 200,000 people worldwide and as a speaker on the Revolve Tour; Austin speaks to 125,000 teenage girls each year. Austin lives with his family in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

According to the United Nations, every 14 seconds, a child is orphaned by AIDS somewhere in the world. This means that every day, more than 6,000 children join the 15 million children worldwide who have already lost one or both parents to this disease.

Austin Gutwein is available for interviews:

Hoops of Hope is a 501c3 non-profit organization started in 2004 by then 10-year old Austin Gutwein who wanted to bring awareness and raise funds for the more than 15 million children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. On World AIDS Day 2004, Austin shot over 2000 free throws to represent the more than 2000 kids who were orphaned during his day at school. Since then, Austin has been recruiting other kids to join him and they have raised over $1.4 million for these children. For more information visit:

World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. For more information please visit

SOURCE World Vision

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