A boy and his basketball are making a world of difference for the families of fallen military heroes.
On August 6, 2011, 30 special operations forces were killed when their helicopter was shot down during a night raid in Afghanistan. Their deaths marked the highest number of casualties for Americans throughout the entirety of the war to date. Thirteen-year-old Will Thomas of McLean, Virginia was devastated by the plight of the surviving families, so he created an ambitious plan to help.
"Since they lost somebody that they love so much, I think that they need all the support they can get," he told CBS News.
After the crash, Thomas began seeking donations for every basket he scored in his driveway. Despite rainy weather, over Labor Day weekend, he shot 20,317 baskets in 50 hours to raise $50,000. The project is called Operation Hawkeye, named after the late Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson's dog, who lay at the foot of his casket in this famous photo. The widow of the late Lt. Commander Jonas Kelsall, who grew up in Thomas's neighborhood, came by to thank Thomas personally for his efforts.
Thomas said, "Just knowing that something I was doing was helping somebody who lived just down the road from me was kind of surprising."
This Labor Day, Thomas has even bigger plans. He hopes to raise $300,000 for his cause.
"I think it's taught me that regardless of where you come from, you can always make a difference in someone else's life," he said CBS News.
In 2011, teens Moranda Hern and Kaylei Deakin created a community for military kids based on their own emotional struggles over their fathers' deployments. The Sisterhood of the Traveling BDUs -- slang for "battle dress uniforms" -- now has hundreds of members. And 21-year-old Brittany Berquist, one of Youth Service America's "25 Most Powerful And Influential Young People In The World," started her own non-profit, "Cell Phones for Soldiers," as a way to keep military families connected.
Are you inspired by Operation Hawkeye? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen!
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