Eighteen years. That's how long I played basketball for. For roughly 6,570 days, I picked up a basketball and shot it at a hoop. It didn't matter where I was—basketball court, driveway, even the small hoop hanging on the back of my bedroom door. All that mattered for eighteen years was putting the ball in the hoop. After 2,500 points scored, I retired from the game. I was convinced that somewhere between game-winning shots and countless games of "HORSE," I made the biggest shot of my career and my life.

I was wrong.

Eighteen years. That's how long most of the children will live at The Liberty Children's Home in Belize. For roughly 6,570 days, they will live there without families, parents, or any certainty of their future. They don't have much: some clothes, a few personal belongings, and one of their favorite pairings—a basketball and a hoop. Although many of the children have a passion for the game, their passion for life and love is much greater.

On the latest MaidPro Cares mission trip to Liberty Children's Home, we got to see these passions—raw and real—first hand. On day three of the trip, about 15 of the children and I were playing basketball. Their smiles were contagious. We were laughing, shooting trick shots, and for the first time in my life, it didn't matter if I made a basket or not.

We began making small bets for fun. If any of the children made a special shot, they would win a dollar or two. When it was my turn, I asked them what I would win if I made the basket. They all replied, "A hug!" Without another thought, I threw up a shot from far down the court. When the ball reached its peak, my eyes began to water as I watched the ball gently glide through the hoop. This was the biggest shot I've ever made. Immediately, all of the children ran up and gave me a big group hug.

No longer did making a shot stand for personal success or winning. It stood for love. For hope. It means I now have a new family to love, care for, and, of course...shoot hoops with.



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