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A Shot for Life founder Mike Slonina going social (media) to combat coronavirus

Mike Sloniina has created a fundraiser for the coronavirus relief fund at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Mike Sloniina has created a fundraiser for the coronavirus relief fund at Massachusetts General Hospital.Betsy Cullen (custom credit)/Betsy Cullen

In 2011, Mike Slonina founded A Shot for Life (ASFL) in response to a family crisis, his mother’s fight again cancer.

Now the charity’s 27-year-old CEO is responding to a global crisis.

And like ASFL, his response asks participants one thing: to make their shot.

It could be any shot, he said in an Instagram video Saturday morning: a basketball through a hoop or a crumpled piece of paper into a trash bin. It didn’t matter as long, as people recorded it, uploaded it to social media via the #AShotForLife hashtag, and made a $1 donation to the coronavirus relief fund at Mass General Hospital.

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Three days later, the Watertown native has seen hundreds of videos from across the country posted to Instagram and Twitter and close to a thousand dollars raised for Mass General Hospital.

“It’s growing completely out of control in the best possible way,” said Slonina.

“My phone has not been out of my hand in the last 96 hours. I’m so intensely proud of the ASFL community.”

Slonina said he planned the campaign after the pandemic forced him to postpone the annual ASFL Battle of the Badges. Originally scheduled on March 21, the event raises funds for cancer research at the Dr. Curry Research Laboratory at MGH.

Hoping to keep building momentum for his non-profit, the Catholic Memorial graduate began reaching out to his ASFL community about the idea of a social media challenge.

“Once [Slonina] texted me, I was all in on it,” said Jay Dieterle, a senior at the Rivers School who has committed to play basketball at Tufts University.

Dieterle won the ASFL Challenge last year and, on Sunday, uploaded an old video of himself sinking a hook shot from a fourth grade basketball game

“I think it adds some fun and some light into a tough time,” Dieterle added.

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“Being able to see all these cool shots gives people something to look forward to.”

Slonina said he has seen videos of basketballs flung from the roofs and ping pong balls falling down flights of stairs from as far away as Washington State and a U.S. military base. He also said he took into consideration the tough economic position a lot families faced.

“That’s why we’re asking them to donate only a dollar,” said Slonina.

“We want them to give them a role to be a part of the solution in the most feasible way possible for every person.”