October 23 with Neal and Ryan

It is my eyes, or is that picture way, way, way out of focus?

Neal and Ryan Burns, however, seem to never be unfocused, and it was with great pleasure that we came together about a week ago — for the first time since Valentine’s Day 2010 (see below) — for an 11th-hour shooting session.

Ryan, a fellow sixth-grader to Noah at Epsom Central School, is the kid who does a whole lot of everything — sports, music, drama, technology, Scouts are what comes to mind, although there’s more — and it was Ryan who was solely responsible way back when for the life-changing realization that there is an iPod auxiliary cord in the gym that would allow us to put music to these days of shooting. That’s called a Burns-inspired epiphany.

Ryan is also a kid who (and I may have said this before) always looks like he knows something that you don’t. And he probably does.

On this particular morning, the younger Burns was responsible for the exchanges, catching the passes from the older Burns and handing them over to me for what I would guess was about 1,100 shots — exactly 1,000 of which went through: 981,007 down, 18,993 to go to 1 million made foul shots.

Always a pleasure, Neal and Ryan. Thanks again.

For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.

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Posted by on October 31, 2011 in Uncategorized


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October 21 at NHTI

Good thing there are only a couple weeks left in this project, because given enough time, I’m certain that I would show up for one of these shooting gigs having forgotten at least one of my feet. In that context, it’s really no big deal that I’ve developed a recent habit of merely forgetting my sneakers.

It happened again on a recent trip to the Goldie Crocker Wellness Center at the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord, where my old pal and NHTI Coach Paul Hogan invited me to shoot with his team during a afternoon practice on October 21. So rather than pathetically ask if anyone had a pair of shoes I could wear, I simply strutted out to the foul line in a pair of socks, almost as if that’s just the routine … and nobody even looked twice.

This NHTI men’s basketball program, under Coach Hogan, has developed quite a national reputation in his 12 years at the school, including a United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II National Championship in 2005. Keep in mind, this is a two-year school at which many players only stick around for one before moving along, so it’s no small task to develop continuity over a period of years. But Coach Hogan, who doubles as the athletic director, has done it.

His secret? Didn’t tell me.

What he did do, though, was permit his players to join me, despite my shoelessness. They came three at a time, four shifts, 250 made free throws per shift. In just about 40 minutes, we were through 1,000 more … and there were two new sweaty footprints on the Crocker Center gym floor.

Thanks Coach, and thanks to Sander Vanderveen (7-foot-2, by the way), Josh Morgan, Peralt Annulysse, Ben Hill, Ryan Sweeney, Tyler Yeaton, Brendan Norton, Satae Ayers, Patrick Lavin, Greg Lablond, Jackson Riel, Zach Stevens and Bobby Shatinsky. We’re at 979,007 down, 20,993 to go to 1 million made foul shots.

For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.



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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Join us at the Hall of Fame: Nov. 11, 2011

“A Million Thanks”

Please join Hoops For Heroes at the culmination of our two-year, collective Thank You to Veterans and service men and women on Veterans Day — November 11, 2011 — at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

The final 1,000 made free throws are scheduled to begin shortly after 9 a.m., to conclude with No. 1 million soon after 11 a.m.

[If anyone is interested in staying in Springfield the night before, please contact me at, as there are a limited number of rooms in the area on hold.]

The event is open to the public at regular Hall of Fame admission prices: $16.99 for adults; $13.99 for seniors (ages 65 and above); $11.99 for ages 5-15; and free for children 4 and under.

And this great news: Thanks to the generosity of Hall of Fame President John Doleva, we are pleased to announce that half of the day’s Hall proceeds will go to our beneficiary, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

So please join us, and bring a friend, and help to share our message of endless gratitude. As always …

Every shot made shall serve as a reminder of the reverence
due those who have honored us with their selfless service to this country.
Every dollar raised shall serve to benefit those who now suffer for that sacrifice. 
To all Veterans, though it will never be enough, this is our solemn thank you.


Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Uncategorized


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October 15: Beans and feet

Adding to the long list of things that are great about the Beans: Jim has now assisted on 48,000 made foul shots, and Seth has done the same for 38,000 of them; they suggest fun things like, “Let’s do big-eyes” for photos such as that which you see above; and perhaps most importantly of all, they love me despite my gross feet.

Seriously, if your feet are grosser than mine, find a circus to join.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: To the faint of heart, now is the time that you should go back to playing Doodle Jump. This is the, let’s say, less appetizing part.]

Here’s what I’m going to do because I respect you: not show pictures of my feet. Instead, it will suffice to say that in addition to my toes all needing a good combing (if not electrolysis), most of the nails are full-on black and blue, and the nail on my right second toe (pointer?) is being held on by a Band-Aid. And now, over on the left side, I’ve got an infection of the middle toe (index?), that yesterday prompted The Beautiful Heth to send me to the emergency room so that it wouldn’t spread all the way up my leg. On my way, I dropped Noah off for some hoop at the gym, and from 10 feet away, our buddy Bill Welch told me it looked like I had exzema.

Hey, you were warned.

Within 30 seconds of my arrival at Horseshoe Pond “Urgent Care” Friday evening, the doctor diagnosed cellulitis (skin infection) and told me it would be 10 days of antibiotics. However, he thought there was a good chance that the pills wouldn’t get into the bloodstream fast enough, so if it were any worse in the morning I was to get back to the ER for intravenous antibiotics.

Then he did something really uncool, following what may have been the worst 19 words I’ve ever heard: “I’m going to burn a hole in your toenail to see if we can release some of the puss.”

I wish I was playing Doodle Jump about now.

Using a little stick about the diameter of a needle that was literally red-hot on the business end (think branding iron), he did just that, and let me tell you that it felt about like you’d think it should feel.


“That hurt?” he asked (good one, Dr. Seinfeld), and then, worst of all: “Hmmm, no puss.”

He then covered up his handiwork with a Band-Aid, gave me my instructions, and sent me on my way, saying he hoped it didn’t get worse. “Keep that foot elevated.”

Nice to meet you, too.

This morning, good news: The red streak indicative of the infection, which last night had gone from the tip of the toe right up to the ankle, had receded back to the toe. Doxycycline 1, Cellulitis 0.

And that’s where the Beans joined in. There they were, Seth and Jim, reliable as ever. We tripped the alarm getting into the gym, but after getting that straightened out, it was all good. With Mr. Springsteen providing our soundtrack yet again and with Noah jumping in for a few hundred here and a few hundred there, we burned through 2,000 in about an hour and 22 minutes … bringing us to 974,007 down, 25,993 to go to 1 million made foul shots.

And not a single disparaging word was uttered about … well, you know.

For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.

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Posted by on October 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


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October 9: Waterville Valley love

This is one of my very favorite photos from the nearly two years we’ve been shooting these shots, and that makes sense, because Waterville Valley is one of my very favorite places.

From left, that’s Betty Martin, Tiffany Bean, ‘lil Jack Kay, Chris Hodges (who I just noticed appears ready to stomp on my head), Sarah Kay and daredevil Drew Hodges. We’re on the playground out behind the Waterville Valley Recreation Department. On the other side of the  building stands a flagpole with the Stars & Stripes, along with a memorial flag to Army Specialist Marc Decoteau, who was killed in action on Jan. 29, 2010 — about two and a half months after we began.

The Decoteau family continues to be a great source of inspiration.

Our love for Waterville Valley runs deep, and last week it got even deeper, as recreation director Rachel Gasowski had recently decided to make Hoops For Heroes the beneficiary of the annual Fall Foliage Foot Race.

She had asked a month back if I would be interested in coming up for the event, and gave me the option of participating in the 5k race, as I had done a year ago.

“Don’t feel like you have to,” she said, sounding an awful lot like she had seen me do my impersonation of a runner on that very same course in 2010 (not pretty).

But because I am still 24, not the 44 that my birth certificate would lead you to believe, I told Rachel that of course I would run.

Long story short: That was an ego-driven mistake.

The shooting was first, and the indefatigable and ever-supportive Hodgeseses — along with Chris’s mom Betty Martin, his sister Sarah Kay, and his nephew Jack Kay — showed up to take care of that business, assisting on 1,500 made shots (for a total of 968,507 down) before we got to watch little Jack belt a whiffle ball all over the gym. Drew pitched. I was the fielder. My hands still hurt.

Then it was race time, and without going into all the gory details … let’s just say I wasn’t a threat to win. Chris, who has done everything for HFH other than make the shots (and only because that’s against the rules), was a wonderful host. You may remember that it was just a month earlier that he had broken the north-to-south New Hampshire cycling record (230 miles in 12 hours, 38 minutes), so he’s actually an athlete. Even so, he was kind enough to hang back with me in a pretty casual jog.

The run itself was uneventful other that the brief moment of panic when I heard a “CLINK” a little after the 1 mile mark, then felt my chest and realized the Marc Decoteau memorial dog tag I’ve been wearing for about 20 months was missing.

I stopped and went back about 20 yards to look. Naturally, so did Chris. Probably 30 seconds later, there was Marc. Phew.

Chris stayed by my side throughout, and clearly could have gone way out in front. Then came the finish line, and 10 feet before he was set to cross in front of me, he stopped, and pushed me ahead. I had considered earlier that he might do this, and I had debated whether I would stand there and debate it with him, or just go.

I just went.

We finished about 25 minutes after we’d begun, which was probably a couple minutes slower than Chris should have finished, were he not waiting for the old guy.

Of course, it was a great day all-around, as it always is up there. The check to HFH was for $725 (Thanks again, Rachel!), the weather was absolutely perfect, and I even won a bag of Mad River coffee grounds in the raffle … which kind of makes up for the $10 parking ticket we’d gotten a couple weeks earlier at the State House.

Sure, I was barely able to get out of bed for the next three mornings (pathetically, that’s not an exaggeration), but hey … that’s the price of being 24 years old in a 44-year-old body.

Thanks again, WV.

For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.

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Posted by on October 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


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October 6: Paul Sargeant

The last time that fellow up there and I met under similar circumstances, it was about 5 a.m., approximately 25 degrees and we had headlights illuminating the basketball court in Twin Mountain, NH.

I can assure you, the Epsom Central School gym is far more comfortable.

That’s where Mr. Paul Sargeant and I met most recently, with Paul agreeing to a 7 p.m. shooting session even though his beloved Yankees had a playoff game scheduled to start at 8.

We were joined by WOKQ radio reporter Sam Adams, who was interested in doing a report on Hoops For Heroes for an upcoming segment. Yes, Sam Adams gets a lot of comments on his name. And because I’m a relatively secure person, I’m going to tell you about the stupidest one he’s ever gotten:

“I’m sure they’re talking about the President, not the beer, right?” the guy with the basketball said, chuckling smartly.

You are correct: There was no President Sam Adams.

Despite that revelation that I am a [fill in your own preferred synonym for “idiot” here], Sam started rolling the tape, and the three of us (accompanied by one very interested and unrelenting housefly) chatted about the project for a half-hour or so.

When we got around to the shooting, Sam did a little audio play-by-play for 50 makes (as professional as Sam is, I can assure you that particular segment will not make the final cut). There was also a five-minute shooting-while-talking piece in which I was about as articulate as a glazed donut (filed under: two things at once).

Then Sam said goodbye, and left behind were the Red Sox fan and the Yankees fan, together in spite of our obvious philosophical differences … and a little over an hour later, we had a total of 1,000 in the books.

Paul is nothing if not a gentleman, and along those lines he didn’t complain even one little bit that the ballgame was already about an hour old before he left the gymnasium … and another half-hour home to Hooksett.

That’s 965,007 down, 34,993 to go to 1 million made foul shots.

For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.

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Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


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October 2: Mr. CJ Swanson

It’s October now, and the calendar says that’s the month before November, which sounds like the month we’re supposed to reach 1 million made free throws. Good news: We’re right on schedule.

A few familiar faces showed up at the Epsom Central School gym on Oct. 2 — you might recognize Jim and Seth Bean up there (along with Mason, sticking his cute little mug through). And there was a less familiar face as well: that of CJ (“FRIDAY IS GAMEDAY”) Swanson, a buddy of the Beans, a former championship-caliber Pinewood Derby race car creator, and the young man who would, just five days after this photo was taken, unsuccessfully attempt to pry a fish hook from Mr. Jim Bean’s back.

That, I assure you, is a story for another day.

On this day, this is what’s to tell: We went pretty darned fast. Two thousand made free throws in about an hour and 11 minutes, bringing Jim Bean’s total to 46,000 assists, and bringing our grand total over the 96 percent mark — 961,007 down, 38,993 to go to 1 million made foul shots.

For more on Hoops For Heroes, with a goal of 1 million made foul shots and $1 million raised for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, visit or contact Dave Cummings at 603-554-7855.

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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Uncategorized


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