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It’s not often that a story in Sports Illustrated can have a direct impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in sub-Saharan Africa. But with an 815 word column in April, writer Rick Reilly kicked off a grassroots campaign to do just that.

Reilly’s pitch was straightforward. Every thirty seconds, an African child dies from a malaria infection transmitted by a mosquito bite, making it the number-one killer of African children under five. So he implored his readers to send $10 donations to the United Nations Foundation to purchase mosquito nets to help protect families when most of the transmissions occur: at night when families are asleep.

The pitch was simple, and it worked. It really worked.

In a few short months, SI readers, little league teams, high school clubs and community groups began sending donations to the United Nations Foundation. Soon, some $1.2 million – much of it raised in $10 increments – had poured into UNF. As a result, some 120,000 insecticide treated bed nets were purchased.

The success of Reilly’s campaign was, quite literally, overwhelming. So to help organize the incipient movement, and collect and distribute the donations, the United Nations Foundation, in partnership with Sports Illustrated, the NBA, and the People of the United Methodist Church, established a non-profit to handle the donations and keep the momentum going. Nothing But Nets was born.

Here’s how it works: One net is durable enough to last as long as four years. The nets themselves cost about $7. A $10 donation covers the cost of the net, delivery, and installation. In some cases, parents and children may sleep under one net. Importantly, there are no overhead costs for Nothing But Nets – the United Nations Foundation pays for that.

The first nets were recently delivered in Nigeria. Reilly is traveling there to visit families and with staff from the World Health Organization and the Measles Initiative to check out how the nets are used.

In the meantime, you can click here to donate ten bucks.

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Rick Reilly: “I’ve never asked for anything before, right? Well, sorry, I’m asking now.

We need nets. Not hoop nets, soccer nets or lacrosse nets. Not New Jersey Nets or dot-nets or clarinets. Mosquito nets.

See, nearly 3,000 kids die every day in Africa from malaria. And according to the World Health Organization, transmission of the disease would be reduced by 60% with the use of mosquito nets and prompt treatment for the infected.” Three thousand kids! That’s a 9/11 every day!

Put it this way: Let’s say your little Justin’s Kickin’ Kangaroos have a big youth soccer tournament on Saturday. There are 15 kids on the team, 10 teams in the tourney. And there are 20 of these tournaments going on all over town. Suddenly, every one of these kids gets chills and fever, then starts throwing up and then gets short of breath. And in seven to 10 days, they’re all dead of malaria.

We gotta get these nets. They’re coated with an insecticide and cost between $4 and $6. You need about $10, all told, to get them shipped and installed. Some nets can cover a family of four. And they last four years. If we can cut the spread of disease, 10 bucks means a kid might get to live. Make it $20 and more kids are saved.

So, here’s the ask: If you have ever gotten a thrill by throwing, kicking, knocking, dunking, slamming, putting up, cutting down or jumping over a net, please go to a special site we’ve set up through the United Nations Foundation. The address is: UNFoundation.org/malaria. Then just look for the big SI’s Nothing But Net logo (or call 202-887-9040) and donate $20. Bang. You might have just saved a kid’s life.

Or would you rather have the new Beastie Boys CD?” Read the rest

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