Pastors shoot baskets to fight malaria

Pastor Shirley Edgerton, of the Vinland United Methodist Church, made 100 free throws Saturday at an event to raise money to fight malaria.

Five United Methodist Church pastors stepped out of the church and onto the basketball court Saturday to raise money to fight malaria.

The four Douglas County churches collaborating in the event — United Methodists Shoot for No Malaria, raising money for the Imagine No Malaria campaign — decided to work together to make it easier to raise money for the cause.

“Since our church has a small membership, we thought we might generate more money for malaria with a group event,” said Shirley Edgerton, pastor at Vinland United Methodist Church.

Edgerton joined Tom Brady and Mitch Todd, of Lawrence First United Methodist Church, Jay Henderson, of Central United Methodist Church, and Dan Norwood, of Centenary United Methodist Church to shoot baskets at First United Methodist’s west campus on Saturday. Each pastor set a goal of how many shots to take or baskets to make.

Brady and Todd each had a goal to attempt 1,000 shots. Community and church members were invited to make donations and guess how many shots each pastor would make. Whoever had the closest estimate would win dinner with Brady and Todd.

Out of the 1,000 attempts, Brady finished with 536 baskets and Todd finished with 200.

Edgerton shot for 30 minutes and made 100 baskets, while Norwood shot free throws for 15 minutes. Henderson made 60 baskets to represent a child dying from malaria every 60 seconds.

Along with the shoot-out, the event included a dribble derby, videos about malaria, lunch and a viewing of the Kansas University basketball game against West Virginia.

The campaign is an effort by United Methodist churches worldwide to eliminate malaria deaths by the end of 2015.

Malaria is a disease transmitted by mosquito bites. It has flu-like symptoms such as fever and vomiting, and if untreated can cause organ failure and death. The Imagine No Malaria campaign is working to end the disease by using preventive measures such as mosquito nets and education, as well as medical treatment for those already affected.

Susan Martin, coordinator of United Methodists Shoot for No Malaria, said that in the three years since the church has worked to end malaria, the number of deaths from the disease has declined from one death every 30 seconds to one death every minute, or by about half.

The total amount of money raised by the four churches was not available Saturday afternoon, but organizers had tallied at least $1,500.