“I just hope my fingertips don’t open up again,” Dave Cummings said before stepping to the free throw line inside the gymnasium at Epsom Central School. Too late. About an hour later and 650 free throws into his daily thousand shots, the red, white and blue basketball Cummings is using starts showing specks of blood.Dave couldn’t care less. He’s on a mission that he’s titled “Hoops for Heroes,” and Cummings plans to make one million foul shots over the course of two to three years, starting this past Veterans Day, to raise money through donations to support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which gives financial support to family of personnel lost in the wars.“It’s not enough to go around saying ‘Happy Veterans Day’ and occasionally saying ‘thank you.’ I just wanted to do something more.”So, you’ve made over 19,000 free throws so far. How many were air balls? Be honest. At home I threw one up short. Totally airmailed it. Hopefully that’s the last one.Did you ever consider making it a million “dunks” instead? Get me a good enough trampoline and I’ll dunk a million times.What particular person or event drew you into starting Hoops for Heroes? It just struck me as this issue of incredible proportions that is going to go on for years and years. A lot of guys are going to be coming home with these life-altering injuries. I think it’s just the part of me that wants to say “thank you.” This is a huge commitment. What’s your biggest obstacle? Being patient and understanding that this is a one-day-at-a-time commitment of 1,000 foul shots. I’ve never been a particularly patient person, and if I think of a million foul shots it does seem pretty overwhelming. But it’s not a million shots. It’s a thousand shots today.Do you worry about fatigue? I worried about it when I started. I’m not sure if there is a physical toll this free throw motion would take over a long period of time. What I’ve been encouraged by is I’ve felt more physically fit as I’ve gone along. It’s only been two weeks, but I feel like the parts that need to get stronger are getting stronger.Imagine for me now, you stepping to the line to shoot the millionth free throw. What’s that look like? I’ve thought about that a lot. It ranges from down here at this gym to my driveway to the White House to the center for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. In a place that can raise enough awareness as possible, where ever that might be.
This article appears in the January 2010 issue of New Hampshire Magazine