Fifth Grader Isaiah Hyun Shoots Hoops to Fund a Cancer Cure

September 6, 2016 | by Michael Easterling



Isaiah Hyun recently started back to school at Arroyo Vista Elementary in South Pasadena, California, ready to take on the world. Now a fifth grader, he is motivated to “do good,” not only in class, but for others as well.

When it came time to select a community service project as part of his classwork, Isaiah knew what he wanted to do: Raise money for cancer research at City of Hope. He used his skill on the basketball court as his platform, committing to eight free throws in a row to “Dunk on Cancer.”

"I wanted to help cancer victims because my family has experienced it,” says Isaiah, age 10. “My Auntie Caroline was diagnosed with cancer, and I felt sad because I thought my cousins would not experience having a mother to comfort them when it is hard in the world. Mothers are a big importance (sic) in a child’s life.” Caroline’s cancer is currently in remission.

Isaiah was also touched by a story of an 8-year-old girl who succumbed to brain cancer. “That’s why I chose eight free throws to shoot,” he explains. “For her. Those are the important reasons why I chose to support cancer research at City of Hope.” He told his dad he would like to specifically direct donations to research for pediatric cancers.



Hyun’s father, Stephen, helped his son organize the grassroots fundraiser, including creating a donation pledge page on Facebook. “We are so proud of Isaiah, of his project, and mostly proud of his generous heart,” he says.

Friends, family, teachers and classmates supported his cause and watched him make the hoop shots one by one, with a single-minded focus to give cancer the slam-dunk it deserves.

“I had a lot of stress at the beginning, because I thought I wouldn’t make all the shots,” Isaiah says. “But I am grateful because I helped kids sick with cancer.” 

For a young boy who is still figuring out fractions, Isaiah managed to generate $1,471.25 from shooting hoops. He proudly presented his check, made out to “City of Hope,” in front of the Spirit of Life® fountain of the Duarte campus. He wants to raise even more next time, he says.

“This is one of the biggest and meaningfulest (sic) projects I have ever done.” 



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