Austin Gutwein has a message to share with his fellow teens: you are never too young to make a difference. In “Live to Give”(Thomas Nelson), Gutweinchallenges that regardless of age, your unique talents and abilities can be used to help others and impact the world.
At eighteen years old, Gutwein speaks with wisdom and has the experience to reinforce his message. When Austin was just nine years old, he watched a video that showed children in Africa who had lost their parents to AIDS. Gutwein realized these kids weren’t any different from him—except they were suffering. Compelled to help, Austin took his love of basketball and decided to shoot free throws to raise money for orphans in Zambia. On World AIDS Day in 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Through sponsorship from parents and friends, Austin raised over $3,000 that day and donated it to eight orphans in Zambia.
Over the past eight years, Austin’s efforts have created Hoops of Hope, the largest free throw marathon in the world. With an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating, Hoops of Hope has raised more than $2.5 million to build schools, medical clinics, dormitories for orphanages, and the only computer lab in Zambia.
Austin and his work with Hoops of Hope have been featured on the NBC “Today Show,” the “NBC Nightly News,” the “CBS Evening News,” the CBS “NCAA Pregame Show,” “Time Magazine”, and many others. He has inspired audiences around the world, speaking to more than 500,000 people on four continents.
Although written for ages 12 and up, “Live to Give”reminds readers of all ages that one person really can make a difference. Austin encourages teens to take the characteristics that make them different, so often viewed as a negative during the teenage years, and embrace their uniqueness. He explains why diversity is so important and how our differences are necessary to be able to help in a variety of ways.
“For me, it was shooting hoops to raise money. For you . . . well, this book is meant to help you discover [how you can make a difference],”Gutwein writes. “But there is one common theme throughout all of our stories: we all need to live to give because we were made for it. Nothing beats living this way! Nothing we could eat, drink, buy, play, watch, or win in life can compare to the feeling of giving.”
Throughout the pages of “Live to Give,”Austin offers advice on dealing with peer pressure, accepting rejection, and other obstacles that might stand in the way of impacting others. He also offers assurance that making a difference does not happen overnight.
Austin’s message is one of hope—that anyone, no matter what their age or skills, has a purpose and can make a difference that lasts forever. With Austin’s stories from Africa and words of encouragement, “Live to Give” will inspire the reader to embrace what makes them different so they can, in turn, make a difference in others’ lives forever.