New York—Basketball nets get traded for mosquito nets, well at least used to raise awareness about mosquito nets, up at Harlem’s legendary Rucker Park basketball court at the ‘Nothing But Nets’ campaign. It was baking hot on the courts, but two teams of famous basketball players, actors, singers, dancers, a Ralph Lauren model, and even a giant mosquito were out for a charity game at noon on Monday August 18.
Monday was the first annual ‘Cavanagh Classic Charity Basketball Game to Benefit Nothing But Nets. Actor Tom Cavanagh, seen in television shows such as “Scrubs”, “Ed”, and the upcoming TNT series “Trust Me”, joined his wife Maureen Cavanagh of Sports Illustrated, in hosting their first charity game.
‘Nothing But Nets’ is a global grass-roots campaign to save lives by preventing malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. The campaign to raise money for insecticide treated bed nets to give to African villagers was inspired by Rick Reilly, who challenged each of his readers to donate ten dollars for a life-saving bed net. Tens of thousands have joined the campaign that was created by the United Nations Foundation in 2006, but there are still a lot more beds to cover.
Tom Cavanagh, who is now based in New York with his family, believes in the effort for a number of reasons. “Ten dollars buys a net, a hundred dollars buys ten nets, and the nets go over there and we have people there count them and hand them out. It’s simple and direct,” he said. “And the other great thing I like about it is it’s actually incredibly affective. I remember as a child you’d have that mosquito buzzing around when you sleep. You put a net up, they’re not buzzing around. It’s just simple and it really works,” Cavanagh explained as he proceeded to stretch for the charity game.
As a child, Cavanagh lived in Africa with his teacher parents, and contracted malaria when he was six, so this campaign is close to home for him, literally.
“The idea that a million people a year are dieing from a mosquito bite, you know, it’s lamentable, and there’s a simple way to try to prevent that, so I feel we have to get involved,” he continued.
Malaria Kills. Send a Net. Save a Life.
The message is clear and simple and so is the way they’re saving lives.
Elizabeth McKee Gore of the United Nations Foundation was excited about the support they’ve received. “We have about 60 high profile people here, who will now carry this message through their own way, whether it’s sports or through celebrities. So we’re not asking anyone here to give us money, we’re asking them to carry our message, which we’re really proud of.”
A ten dollar donation covers the cost of one bed net, the distribution, and education on the proper use of it. The United Nations Fund covers the overhead, so your donation goes straight to the cause.
The nets work by stopping mosquitoes from biting during the night and spreading the disease, and the insecticide on the nets kills the mosquitoes when they land on it, stopping them from flying to the next victim. According to ‘Nothing But Nets’, the bed nets can prevent malaria transmission by 50 percent and up to 90 percent in areas with high coverage rates. Donations can be made at www.nothingbutnets.net
“The number one killer of refugees is actually malaria. Sudan, Congo, DRC, Central African Republic, Chad, those are all high places of refugees and internally displaced people, and they’ve survived genocide, and then they die of a mosquito bite,” said McKee Gore.
At the end of the basket ball game, no one really seemed to care who won, they were all essentially playing for the same side.
Maureen Cavanagh, of Sports Illustrated said “The people you see are really famous in the world of basketball, street ball in New York… we were just really grateful that they were able to come out and donate their time.”
Joseph Williams, a barber from across the street at Jay’s Unisex hair salon spontaneously started collecting money in the neighborhood when he saw the game in his local park.
“I was going to most of the businesses and asking if they could donate to the cause. Once the people come out in the community, in Rucker Park, I’ve been here for years, so it’s always good to try to give something to help out the community, to help out each other,” said Williams, “And the greatest thing about it, it doesn’t just benefit one of us, it benefits all of us. That’s the beautiful thing about it, and I don’t mind doing it. I’m that type of guy.”