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Anti-malaria campaign scores at NBA All-Star Week

By Stephen J. Hustedt*

March 27, 2007 |  LAS VEGAS (UMNS)

During the recent NBA All-Star Week, a leading scorer was undoubtedly Nothing But Nets, a partnership that is mobilizing people and raising money to combat malaria in Africa.

Nothing But Nets - supported by the United Nations Foundation, the people of The United Methodist Church, NBA Cares, Sports Illustrated and others - received large amounts of visibility and donations during NBA All-Star Week, Feb. 15-19.

Volunteers, players, agents and fans raised more than $140,000 for the campaign. Just $10 will pay for the purchase and distribution of an insecticide-treated bed net that can protect a family of four from malaria-bearing mosquito bites for up to four years.


 Elizabeth McKee

"That week in Las Vegas, bishops and basketball players were supporting Nothing But Nets," said Elizabeth McKee, director of marketing for the U.N. Foundation and a United Methodist. "During 2007 All-Star Week, the NBA highlighted the campaign to prevent one of the largest killers of children in Africa: malaria.

"I can best describe this week with one moment at the NBA Jam Session, standing between United Methodist volunteer Phyllis Murray and All-Star 3-Point Shootout Champ Jason Kapono, raising money at the Nothing But Nets booth."

Murray, director/manager of Potosi Pines Camp and a member of Faith Springs United Methodist Church in Las Vegas, also considered the week a success. "We scored a slam dunk!" she said.

"When I had a chance to work with other volunteers in the booth setup at the All-Star Jam, I was excited to have a chance to represent our church in such a secular setting," Murray said. "But it's a natural for us. As United Methodists, we have been at work in Africa for over 100 years."

From loose change to $100 bills, people from all walks of life made donations.

"Jason Kapono donated $1,000 a shot alongside his fellow players who also contributed - Joe Johnson, Mike Miller, Jordan Farmar and Brandon Roy," McKee said. "Guess who else hung out with the Nothing But Nets crew: (actress) Sela Ward and (comic) Chris Tucker. Plus, our newest partner, VIBE Magazine, covered the whole event and will feature Nothing But Nets in their next issue."

Murray said supporting the campaign is a "no-brainer."


United Methodist volunteer Phyllis Murray raises money for malaria prevention at the Nothing But Nets booth during NBA All-Star Week, Feb. 15-19, in Las Vegas. A UMNS photo by Elizabeth McKee.

"I talked with lots of United Methodists from around the country, and I could see the United Methodist connection in action." Murray said. "Other local United Methodists came to help strengthen this cause and the United Methodist connection as well, including Gar and Robin Chapel from Faith Springs United Methodist Fellowship, Jennifer Smith of United Methodist Social Ministries in Las Vegas, and Robin Collins of Green Valley UMC. We all had a ball, learned a lot and felt really good about our efforts."

Coming up in April, United Methodists are being asked to skip a meal, send a net and save a life on Africa Malaria Day. Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, president of the denomination's Council of Bishops, is asking United Methodists and others to skip lunch on April 25 and use their lunch money to buy a bed net. The day also has been designated Malaria Awareness Day in the United States by President George Bush.

More information is available by visiting www.nothingbutnets.net or www.UMC.org/nets.

*Hustedt is the director of communications for the Desert Southwest Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Malaria Initiatives of The United Methodist Church

Nothing But Nets

Malaria Awareness Day

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