Young Influencers... Changing the World One Place at a Time
Welcome to The CataList! Each month, we will be highlighting young people who are living for others and acting as a catalyst for change in the ongoing fight against extreme poverty, preventable disease, and injustice. Also, be sure to visit our FYI (Featured Young Influencer) page for interviews, background stories, and resources associated with our Young Influencer of the Month!
Author, Speaker, Humanitarian, Founder of Hoops of Hope
In the spring of 2004, Austin watched a video that showed children who had lost their parents to AIDS. After watching the video, he realized these kids weren’t any different from him except they were suffering. Austin felt God calling him to do something to help them. He decided to shoot free throws and on World AIDS Day, 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Friends and family sponsored Austin and he was able to raise almost $3,000. That year, the money was used to provide hope to 8 orphan children.
Over the past eight years, Austin's effort has turned into the largest free throw marathon in the world with an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating in Hoops of Hope. By doing something as simple as shooting free throws, Hoops of Hope participants have raised more than $2.5 million. The efforts have led to the construction of the only high school in a rural region in Southern Zambia, four dormitories, two medical clinics, a computer laboratory, multiple water projects as well as the funding of a dormitory at an orphanage in Kenya and a school in India.
Austin's message is one of hope. A message that anyone, no matter what their age or skills has a purpose and can make a difference that lasts forever. He has had the opportunity to share his story of hope to more than 500,000 people on four continents.
In 2009, Austin was selected as one of the Top 10 Most Caring Americans by the Caring Institute in Washington, DC. That same year, Thomas Nelson released his first book, Take Your Best Shot. Austin's second book, Live to Give, was released in August 2012.
Author, Speaker, Abolitionist, Founder of Loose Change to Loosen Chains
Zach Hunter is 18 years old and he’s leading a new generation of activists who are putting their faith into action to address some of the most serious problems facing the world today.
Zach has partnered with artists to help raise awareness about human rights violations and the plight of the poor. Since the age of 12, he has spent most of his time working to end modern-day slavery after starting the non-profit Loose Change to Loosen Chains. For more information about Zach or his organization, Loose Change to Loosen Chains, visit his website at www.zachhunter.me.