Hoops For Heroes and the trek toward 1 million made foul shots, to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, starts officially on Veterans Day (November 11) 2009, but it truly began — very unofficially — nearly 10 months earlier, on January 23, with the accompanying log and images …
Day 1: January 23, 2009
So I looked into my cheap video camera, said a few words, grabbed my ice-caked basketball off the patio, walked out to the driveway to the makeshift foul line I had carved out of the firm-packed snow with a shovel, and tossed up a horrible brick, one that clanged off the right side of the rim, thunked off the backboard and dropped to the snow. I picked the ball up, went back to the line and sent it toward the net again. This time pure. And so began “Hoops For Heroes” Day 1. About 200 attempts later, I would guess, I had made the first 100 … on the way to a million. That’s the plan, anyway.
The video camera caught the first 48. I had hoped to chronicle every one of them, and hopefully from here to the end I will … better technology to come. But for now, you’re just going to have to trust that those first 100 are in the books. Took me longer than I wanted (a half-hour, maybe?), and the 50 percent-ish rate had better improve if I want to get this done in my lifetime … plus my hands were frozen stiff by the time it was over. But the first 100 foul shots are down. I’m one-10,000th of the way home, and I couldn’t be happier.
Here’s what I want to do: Make a million foul shots – here in the driveway, there and everywhere – and raise some money to pass along to the men and women of our military who come home from battle in need of help. I believe there’s something called the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund that raises money specifically for this cause, so that may be where any money that comes of this could go. I’m thinking there will be at least $1,000 raised, because I’m pledging $100 for every 100,000 that I make.
So, simply, it’s a million foul shots to raise money for our injured veterans. No, the specifics haven’t been worked out yet, but that will come. I could think and over-plan this thing to death and never take a shot (It’s what I’ve kind of been doing for the last year or so.), but rather than do that, I’ve finally decided that I will shoot now and answer questions later. However it gets sliced up in the end, the name of this gig is, fittingly, Hoops For Heroes. It’s for our heroes. They’ve done their part, more than we can ever repay. But let’s try.
The story of how this idea began is a pretty simple one. I’m a guy who has lived a nice life, not what you’d call privileged necessarily but certainly without any overwhelming struggle, either. Great parents, beautiful home in a nice neighborhood growing up, decent schools, parent-funded college education (a five-school tour, by the way) … some pretty typical early-20s angst followed by some late-20s revelations, and now a guy with a wonderful wife and three amazing kids in a nice home, making a middle class living. As I said, no real struggle. So … what for? Without getting too melodramatic or philosophical, what am I doing here? Being a good dad, husband, son, employee … kind of going through the steady paces of life without hurting anyone and, well, what else?
This is what else.
I’m pretty mediocre all-around, but there are a few things I do fairly well: I can bake the hell out of a chocolate chip cookie, I can point the skis downhill and make a ton of tight, quick turns, and thanks to my dad, a 1,000-point scorer in college and a long-time coach after that, I can make foul shots at a pretty decent rate (you’ll excuse, as I will, tonight’s frosty mess). So, with that as my skill set, what to do? A bake sale seemed impractical, and skiing really doesn’t translate into a fundraiser, so I’m left with foul shots. Lots and lots of foul shots.
And although it’s primarily about the money that I hope to raise, it’s not only about that. It’s about goodwill as well. I have been inspired, as have millions of others around the country and the world, by the campaign, election and recent inauguration of President Barack Obama. I say that not as a partisan, but simply as a citizen-admirer. Though this idea, Hoops For Heroes, was hatched prior to his candidacy, it had laid stagnant for months and months until being reinvigorated in recent days by what I have felt as a call to action by this new leader of the free world. He has not been specific in this call, only saying that we need to be better as a nation, and that we are only better as a nation when we are better as individuals. This is my response to that call. This is my action. This is my “better.” I hope that others will take up the call with me, in whatever form that may come.
One hundred into the bucket … 999,900 to go. We’re on our way.