Tuesday, 27 October 2009


It was a Friday night, and the crowd was abuzz with excitement as 6' 5" All-American forward Perry Dissmore confidently stepped to the free throw line. But would he make it? Would the ball float effortlessly through the air and cause the strings to "pop" as it dropped through the net . . . or would the ball drift slightly and bound off the rim?
Over the next hour, Pastor Perry Dissmore, now 38 and no longer a star forward for North Central Bible College (now North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota), would possibly ask himself that question subconsciously about 2,300 times on his way to a new world record....
Dissmore, who pastors Bear Creek Assembly of God in Panama City, Florida, has used his free throw shooting talent in the past to help raise money for building projects and other events, as people pledged funds per basket. But last year, Dissmore met with Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge (BGMC) Director David Boyd and some missionaries during a trip to Mexico. Boyd challenged Dissmore to do something with his talent that was "fantastic" to raise money BGMC.
"I went home and started investigating world records," Dissmore recalls. "I learned that the record for the most free throws made in an hour was 1,663 - about 28 free throws per minute. I didn't think I stood a chance at breaking the record . . . , but I discovered I could shoot free throws a lot faster than I originally thought."
But could he make a free throw faster than one every 2.16 seconds?
When Dissmore started practicing for the effort this past February, the attempt to break the record seemed out of reach. He was an excellent free throw shooter in college (88 to 90 percent), but now he was shooting in rapid-fire fashion and the record was "so far away, it seemed futile." But the more he practiced, the better he became.
Finally, after weeks of practice, he felt like he was within striking range of the record. So, he approached West Florida District Council Secretary Treasurer Mark Jakelsky with the idea of making this world record attempt the BGMC district fund-raiser. Jakelsky liked the idea so much, the district even created a DVD promoting the effort and encouraging churches throughout the district to help generate enthusiasm and pledges for the attempt.
"We have three specific ministries we're looking to help with BGMC funds through this effort," Dissmore says. "Fountain of Life school in Haskova, Bulgaria; Joyland, which ministers to and helps injured and orphaned children in Kenya; and job skill training for young mothers in Pakistan."
"Those pastors who have seen the DVD have loved the video and had an exceptional response to it," states Jakelsky. "We also developed a brochure for the event to help individual churches promote it and raise pledges. Our goal was to raise $50,000 for BGMC - and we're now just starting to see some of those pledges come in."
The date for the world record attempt was set for Friday, October 9, 2009. At 7:20 p.m. (Central), Dissmore stepped to the free throw line in the Chipola College gymnasium in Marianna, Florida, and with 200-300 witnesses and cameras rolling, he began his assault on the record books.
"It was really loud in there," Dissmore says. "The people were cheering and encouraging me . . . usually, every time I do it [shooting free throws for an hour in practice], I am completely wiped out by the end, but not this time . . . with the kids from all over the district there, it was an incredible adrenaline rush."
Dissmore felt confident he could break the record as he had done so before in practices. However, now his goal was to break 1,900 - a feat that would smash the world record, but something he had never accomplished in practice. An hour later, with the crowd cheering and Dissmore methodically firing up shots, the buzzer sounded, the hour was over and ball No. 1,926 dropped through the net . . . and pandemonium broke loose.
As "We Are the Champions" blared over the loud speakers, Dissmore's wife Nicole gave him a "big kiss" and the fans watching from the bleachers stormed the court, cheering and yelling and asking for autographs from the new world record holder.
"I was surrounded by people - the kids were everywhere," Dissmore recalls. "It was a very humbling when they asked for my autograph, so I spent some time doing that and talking with the kids . . . it became a neat celebration as we rejoiced in what God did that night."
"When I spoke to Perry, I just sensed a heart of compassion for the lost," says Marshall Bruner, Compassion Ministries coordinator for BGMC. "Sacrifice from people such as Perry and others - all raising money for BGMC - speaks volumes to their commitment to seeing people throughout the world come to know Christ as their personal Savior."
To place into perspective what Dissmore accomplished in shattering the old world record by 263 baskets (which is currently being verified by Guinness), first one has to understand that he "only" made about 84 percent of his shots (taking 2,300 to make 1,926). That's more than 38 free throws in a minute - and he would make 32 of them. In other words, in the three or four minutes it took to read this article, Dissmore would have shot well over 100 times - shooting a free throw every 1.57 seconds (and making a free throw, on average, every 1.87 seconds)!
According to Jakelsky, the world record attempt received great press and television coverage, helping to create a greater awareness of BGMC and the Assemblies of God within the district. However, the district is no stranger to BGMC. Although it's one of the smaller districts in the Assemblies of God (35th out of 61), it has been in the top 10 in giving to BGMC the last two years.
"Whether we hit our goal of $50,000 or not, we know children are going to be helped through this effort," Jakelsky says. "This is just part of what we're doing [for BGMC], and helps show how our district feels about helping children and BGMC."