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Nothing but nets: 500 free throws raise funds to fight malaria

September 11th, 2017

Bethel College freshmen Daniel Ratzlaff, Moundridge, and Heather Eddy, Park City, are already learning how to take research from theory to practice.

Both are recipients of a Health Science Scholarship and part of the STEM Learning Community at Bethel, where junior and senior science majors mentor students just starting out.

Eddy and Ratzlaff’s major research project was on West Nile virus and malaria, resulting in a poster they exhibited at Bethel’s annual URICA Symposium – which happened to fall on April 25, World Malaria Day. (URICA stands for Undergraduate Research, Internships and Creative Activity.)

Their professor, Dwight Krehbiel, had learned about Nothing But Nets, a grassroots effort to combat malaria by raising money for mosquito nets through basketball.

Ratzlaff, Eddy and their student mentor, Jared Regehr, senior from Halstead, decided to hold a free-throw challenge. People signed up to give so much money per free throw – the goal was for Ratzlaff and Regehr to try to make 500 in an hour.

They tossed up a total of 563, and made their 500 points within the 60 minutes.

“I thought doing something tangible was a great idea,” Ratzlaff said, “the perfect culmination of our work on our research paper and poster.

“The average American will hear tidbits about malaria and how it is bad, but normally not give much thought to it. Writing the research paper made me think, ‘Wow, this is really an issue, it’s adversely affecting so many people.’ So when Dwight mentioned the chance to help make a difference, I was all for it.”

“It was [a way of] doing our part in helping fight against malaria and West Nile virus,” Eddy added.

The challenge raised at least $500, which will buy at least 50 insecticide-treated mosquito nets to be sent to Africa through Nothing But Nets (see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.