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By: Chris Helfrich

5 Things We Heard at the Champion Summit

June 7, 2017
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Last week, the 2016 Champion Summit engaged nearly 1000 people to learn more about the fight to defeat malaria with Nothing But Nets. Champions heard from speakers, made new friends, and left equipped with the knowledge and tools to continue their work in raising awareness for our cause.

We are so proud of all our Champions who are rising up to become the next generation to defeat malaria. Here are five exciting highlights from the event:

All of our Champions can make a difference in the fight to defeat malaria


To begin the Champion Summit, six Champions shared why they are passionate about fighting malaria. Reverend Thon Moses Chol spoke about his life as a South Sudan refugee, his personal experience with malaria, and what motivates him to fight it. Thon said, “Trust me, the money that you raise in any capacity reaches someone out there who doesn’t know where his next meal will come from.”

Champion Jeff Girod spoke about his personal connection to malaria prevention due to the passing of his father from dengue, also a mosquito-borne illness. This inspired Jeff to reach out to his elected leaders about funding to fight malaria, to prevent this from happening to others.

Beverly Ezeokoli spoke for the first time about how she lost her son to malaria. She said, “My hope is that other family members will not have to lose lives because of malaria.” Ultimately, that hope is what motivates all of our Champions. At the Summit, we were privileged to hear how our Champions have different and unique stories, and yet all share a mutual goal—ending malaria for good.

Abby Wambach is fueled by passion and creativity

We were thrilled to welcome soccer star Abby Wambach as a keynote speaker! When she first visited Africa ten years ago, she saw the effects of malaria first-hand, and knew she could do something about it. Now, she is using her platform in order to raise awareness for a number of issues including malaria and global health, and equality and human rights. In her speech, she asked people to show kindness and called for people to engage with each other away from their cell phones. Her belief in equality and human rights are what fuel her desire to end malaria. As she stated, “real philanthropic work comes from the heart. And you can’t fake it.”

Ambassador Rice announced White House plans for malaria funding

We were privileged to have the White House make a special announcement at the Summit. Ambassador Susan Rice, National Security Advisor and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, officially announced that the President’s FY17 budget requests an additional $200 million for the President’s Malaria Initiative, creating a total of $874 million going toward malaria prevention.

Ambassador Rice stated: “With these resources, we will be able to take bold new steps to combat this killer that comes in the dusk and the night.”

One of those steps will be to create PMI programs in three new countries: Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, and Cameroon, as well as expanding the current program in Burkina Faso. Additionally, the U.S. will be joining with other governments and partners to fight malaria in Zambia and Cambodia and provide 14 million more bed nets for people in sub-Saharan Africa, with additional support of research and development efforts.

We were honored to have this historic moment take place at the Summit – seeing progress in the fight against malaria motivates us to keep working to eliminate this deadly disease.

Traditional and social media are valuable tools to raise awareness

One of the most important ways we can raise awareness about malaria is through the media. Triathlete and humanitarian Dr. Andy Baldwin and FOX5 Executive Producer Terry Tolliver shared some helpful tips about how to get the media involved in Champions’ work with Nothing But Nets. Terry even pointed to social media as a new, key driver of news coverage for FOX5.

Thankfully, our Champions were able to get some good practice with social media during the Summit. Champions used the hashtag #ChampionSummit to engage with each other and their members of Congress throughout the entire event. In total, the #ChampionSummit hashtag was used over 2000 times and reached over 12 million people during the Summit!

Champions have the power to make real impact through advocacy

We finished our Summit with an exciting Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. Champions attended over 80 meetings with their state representatives to encourage support for US leadership in the fight to defeat malaria. At lunch, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Representative Don Beyer spoke about their passion for this cause and encouraged our Champions to keep up the good work.  

We couldn’t have asked for better Champions, or for a better 2016 Champion Summit! We look forward to the months ahead as our Champions continue to utilize their platforms to raise awareness and help save lives

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