Temple Beth Am on Sunday hosted a fundraiser basketball tournament, “Nets for Nets,” to combat malaria. The tournament raised around $5,000, which will be used to purchase around 500 mosquito nets that will be sent to Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa, both greatly affected by malaria.
“It’s possible that if we keep pushing and we keep funding, then this disease, which takes the lives of so many children and our service men and women abroad, can actually be eliminated off the globe,” synagogue Rabbi Rachel Greengrass said. “We’re very proud to be part of the campaign.”
The tournament was split into age groups, third through eighth grades, but Greengrass hopes to expand it to a daylong tournament with more age groups being able to participate.
Greengrass also sees this tournament as a way to educate students about the importance of global issues.
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“I think that the kids have felt really good that they were able, as children, to have the power to change the world and to save lives,” Greengrass said.
Niki Marcus, a longtime congregant of Temple Beth Am, helped Greengrass organize the event. Last year, the Marcus family hosted a small basketball tournament, “Dunks for Diabetes.”
Marcus said the kids were told answer questions about malaria, to get them thinking about the disease.
”It’s fantastic because it brings all of these families together for a cause,” Marcus said.
Marcus’ son, Zach, 12, was pivotal in starting the “Dunks for Diabetes” tournament last year and is proud to be part of this tournament.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Zach said, “It’s great that we can raise money for serious diseases.”
American Diabetes Association member Vicky Biros Sickles was a speaker at the tournament to help educate the students even more.
“I was more than happy to speak. I wanted to be able to help out,” Biros Sickles said.
Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner lauded the event.
“This is one opportunity for the youth to understand what it means to take on a cause and try to make a difference to improve the world,” Lerner said. “It creates an awareness and understanding that it can be meaningful, fun and important all at the same time.”