RALEIGH — Fifth-grader Sarah Schulz finished her summer vacation last year determined to do something to help children affected by AIDS.
She had just finished reading, “Take Your Best Shot,” the story of Austin Gutwein, a young boy who started a national organization called “Hoops of Hope” a decade ago to help children orphaned by AIDS.
At first, Sarah wanted to participate in one of the free-throw marathons that are the organization’s trademark. But her plans quickly grew.
“I wanted to be part of what was going on, but there weren’t any events in Raleigh,” she said. “So I kind of had to start my own.”
Sarah enlisted the help of four of her fifth-grade friends from Trinity Academy of Raleigh to help her plan the city’s first ever Hoops of Hope basketball free-throw marathon, which takes place Feb. 21. The five girls, all 11, have done everything from recruit participants to sign up volunteers and seek sponsors for the marathon.
Sarah’s friends – Leslie Meadowcroft, Sophie Preston, Allie Lawrence, Ashley Woodfin – say it was an easy decision to get involved. They wanted to help their friend, and they like that the event incorporates basketball, which they all play together.
But most of all, like Sarah, they’re happy to know they’ll be helping other children.
“We’re kids and they’re kids, but we have parents and they don’t,” said Sophie. “And I could not imagine not having any parents at all.”
The girls aim to raise $25,000 at the free throw marathon that that will help build and equip a medical clinic in Hamaunda, Zambia. The clinic will provide HIV/AIDS testing, treatment and education.
During the past decade Hoops of Hope has raised $3 million through local events organized by youth around the world. The organization works with World Vision to build schools, medical clinics, water projects and more around the world.