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Nothing But Nets to get 'American Idol' exposure


Adijat Akeem tucks her child safely beneath an insecticide-treated mosquito net at her home in Lekki, Nigeria. The net was provided by the United Methodist-supported Nothing But Nets campaign. UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.  












A UMNS Report by Deborah White*
April 16, 2007

The Nothing But Nets campaign will gain worldwide exposure before millions of people April 24-25 when the United Methodist-supported anti-malaria initiative is among charities featured on the top-rated "American Idol" television show.

The Fox reality show, which is rated No. 1 in the United States, will present a two-night "Idol Gives Back" charity special to raise awareness and money for organizations that help poor children in the United States and Africa.

The people of The United Methodist Church are founding partners in Nothing But Nets, which fights malaria by purchasing and distributing insecticide-treated sleeping nets in Africa. A donation of $10 covers the cost of delivering one net and teaching a family how to protect children from malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Malaria kills more than a million people per year, and 90 percent of those are African children.

Bishop Thomas Bickerton expressed excitement that the life-saving campaign will reach its widest audience yet and gain mainstream exposure through "American Idol," which attracts about 26 million U.S. viewers each episode and reaches audiences in about 150 other countries.

"It really is this blending of secular and sacred and, as that continues to unfold in exciting ways, it gives us more and more possibilities to prevent a disease that prevents a child from having a long, sustained, fruitful life," said Bickerton, president of the United Methodist Commission on Communication.

“The inspiring thing for me is that more people are getting the message.”
–Bishop Thomas Bickerton

"The inspiring thing for me is that more people are getting the message. 'American Idol' provides the opportunity for millions of people to get the message."  
In early April, Major League Soccer became another partner in Nothing But Nets, which has raised $4.6 million since 2006 - enough to buy and distribute 460,000 nets. Other partners include the United Nations Foundation, the National Basketball Association's NBA Cares and Sports Illustrated.

Fox is working on "Idol Gives Back" with Charity Projects Entertainment Fund, which will distribute money raised to Save the Children and other U.S. organizations helping children living in disadvantaged areas of America. In Africa, the money will be distributed through the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Save the Children, Malaria No More, Nothing But Nets and The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.


Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly visits with school soccer players in Lagos, Nigeria, during a 2006 Nothing But Nets delegation trip to the West African county. 

On the TV show's first night, "American Idol" sponsors will make a donation for each vote cast by viewers for their favorite singers. On the second night, viewers can make their own donations via toll-free lines and online.
The shows will coincide with Malaria Awareness Day, April 25, when the Council of Bishops has urged United Methodists everywhere to skip lunch and donate $10 to send a mosquito net to a family in Africa. April 25 has been observed as Africa Malaria Day since 2001, but this year President Bush proclaimed the day as Malaria Awareness Day in the United States.

"Bed nets are the most cost-effective way to protect children from the mosquitoes that carry this killer disease," said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, president of the Bishops Council. "This is an easy, tangible way to make a difference."

To donate to Nothing But Nets, visit www.NothingButNets.net or go to The United Methodist Church's Web site at www.umc.org/nets. United Methodists also can give through their churches by designating their gift for Advance #982015.

*White is associate editor of Interpreter magazine, published by United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Deborah White, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newdesk@umcom.org.

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