Pistons honor CMU professor, student for fight against malaria

At a halftime ceremony during the Detroit Pistons’ Jan. 15 home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Pistons and the American Red Cross honored Vincent Mumford, associate professor of sports management at Central Michigan University, and Ryan Lambert, a Montgomery, IL, junior, as “Michigan Heroes” for efforts to raise money to buy mosquito bed nets.

For a class project last fall, Mumford challenged his sports management students to find a way to use sports to solve a world health problem. Lambert enlisted the aid of fellow students to organize a free-throw contest in December to raise money for mosquito netting to slow the spread of the disease.

The newly-formed group, Chip Away Malaria, raised $5,798 last semester – well over the $5,000 goal. Mumford said it’s enough money to buy nearly 580 insecticide-treated bed nets for impoverished families in Africa.

Every 30 seconds, an African child dies of malaria, a disease that infects nearly 500 million people worldwide.

“One bed net can save an entire family,” Mumford said. “To inspire students to do something as noble as this type of effort … to save someone’s life, is pretty powerful.”

Lambert collected the award on behalf of students who helped raise money. Chip Away Malaria was developed to support Nothing But Nets, a grass-roots campaign launched by the United Nations Foundation in November.

CMU students, alumni or faculty can contribute to Chip Away Malaria by logging onto http://www.nothingbutnets.net, clicking on the “Find a Netraiser Team” link and then searching for Chip Away Malaria.

Mumford said the student group plans to collect another $5,000 this semester. CMU is the first university to become active in aiding Nothing But Nets.