International School student brings Hoops of Hope fundraiser to aid African orphans

Dandi Huang, a senior at International School in Bellevue, is bringing her senior project to the basketball court for a Hoops of Hope event on March 28. Hoops of Hope is the largest basketball shoot-a-thon in the world, raising funds to support children in Africa orphaned by Aids.

Hoops of Hope helps to raise awareness of the estimated 6,000 African children orphaned by Aids each day, joining the 15 million children worldwide who have already lost one or both parents to the disease. According to the United Nations, every 14 seconds, somewhere in the world, another child is orphaned by AIDS.

Half way across the world, Dandi was moved to take action. She decided to get Bellevue involved in making a difference. Over the course of this year, she contacted Hoops of Hope, planned the Bellevue event, located a facility, printed flyers and spoke at schools to get the community on board.

The first annual Hoops of Hope in Bellevue will take place at the South Bellevue Community Center and will include pizza, prizes and T-shirts for each participate. The Eastside Dream Elites cheerleaders will kick off the event and Water for Heart, a non-profit organization focused on raising funds to help fight the worlds water crisis, will be on hand to show support.

Individuals and teams will battle it out at the hoop, with each basket raising money to help build a medical facility in Zambia.

Dandi first learned about the international fundraising event at a youth conference she attended last year at Meydenbauer Center. At the conference, Dandi listened to a student from Texas share his story about how he first launched the Hoops of Hope event in 2004, an annual event in partnership with World Vision.

Hoops of Hope participants have raised more than $450,000 providing orphaned children in Africa with access to food, clothing, shelter, a new school and a medical testing facility.

“I hope to spark awareness and make Hoops of Hope an annual event in Bellevue,” Dandi said. “Who knew the simple act of shooting a basketball could make such a difference?”

On April 17, a group of five Issaquah students will follow in Dandi's footsteps and hold their own Hoops of Hope fundraiser.

South Bellevue Community Center, 14509 S.E. Newport Way, 425.452.4240. For more information on Hoops of Hope, visit https://www.hoopsofhope.org.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at 425.453.4602.