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 eleven 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 close to nearly $4 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, two computer laboratories, feeding programs, multiple water projects as well as the funding of a dormitory at an orphanage in Kenya and a school in India.
Austin has been featured on NBC Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, CBS NCAA Pregame Show, Time Magazine, Christianity Today and many others. He has had the opportunity to share his story of hope to more than 500,000 people on four continents including stops at the Secondary Schools' United Nations Symposium in Montreal and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
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. His message weaves stories from his many trips to Africa that will leave the listener inspired and encouraged to make a difference.
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.
Austin is 21 years old and serves as a Youth Pastor in Central Washington. He is also in the process of completing his Senior year at Arizona State University, where he is majoring in Religious Studies.