Today I was in Chicago – joined by Luol Deng and the Chicago Bulls, Nothing But Nets and the UN Foundation announced an emergency appeal to send nets to refugee camps in Chad. The day began at a press conference announcing the appeal for nets. United Nations Foundation Vice President Kathy Bushkin Calvin shared the urgency with a full room of journalists. We learned that without mosquito nets, an estimated 25% of the 200,000 Chadians in refugee camps along the Chad-Sudan border will die from malaria this rainy season. But this urgency was underscored by great hope and optimism—as the Chicago Bulls donated $10,000, and Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn added $2,500, we had a solid start to reaching our $400,000 goal!
The press conference led into another Nothing But Nets “bootcamp,” where over 250 kids from all over Chicago had a chance to learn about malaria and Nothing But Nets. I had the opportunity to film the event and conduct some interviews with those attending. At one point, all of the sudden, there was a line of kids—maybe 20 deep—who wanted to be interviewed. But although I was the one filming, they weren’t wanting to speak with me, per se. No, they were wanting to “be like Luol”—who I’d just had the privilege of interviewing about his dedication to covering the 200,000 refugees in Chad. Having witnessed his passion about Sending Nets and Saving Lives, they were eager to emulate their role model, their idol.
I felt their enthusiasm—it had been an exciting day. Spearheaded by leaders from the Chicago area and beyond, including Chicago Bulls Executive Vice President Steve Schanwald, Illinois Lutienent Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago Sky CEO Margaret Stender, Former Bulls legend Bob Love, Chicago Midfield Diego Gutierrez, and Bulls Small Forward Luol Deng, the bootcamp taught all those involved how to spread the word about how easy it is to Send Nets and Save Lives.
The attendees created fundraising plans, played ball with Luol and Diego, and won autographed Bulls and Chicago Fire gear. All in all, day one of the appeal to send mosquito nets to Chad was a great success. But the success of day two and beyond will depend on supporters like you. Will you help us meet the challenge in Chad?