In my time at Cornerstone University, I have often been asked about what makes Cornerstone University so special. One of the first school initiatives I always make sure to point people toward is Night of Nets.
Night of Nets is a global campaign that involves different groups from across the world coming together to end malaria, which is a deadly disease. All proceeds of Cornerstone’s Night of Nets event go to purchasing bed nets for people in the country of Zambia to protect them while they sleep from mosquitoes that carry malaria.
What makes this all the more amazing is that Night of Nets is an entirely Athletics-based initiative.
Cornerstone understands something important about sports; they teach important lessons and bring people together. Both of these things can be used for a higher purpose as well.
Allow me to give you a look into how Night of Nets takes Cornerstone Athletics from the field into the global community.
WHAT NIGHT OF NETS HAS DONE SO FAR
Night of Nets is an initiative that has been around Cornerstone roughly the last 10 years and is headed by Associate Vice President for Student Development and Athletics Chip Huber. The idea of the campaign is simple but incredibly influential in practice: get people to attend soccer and volleyball games, ask each person to donate $6 (which is approximately the cost of a potentially life-saving bed net) and share the story of how malaria is severely impacting the lives of people living in Africa, all while selling shirts and other merchandise to raise extra money.
Night of Nets, being the conglomeration of events that it is, finds some of its greatest success in its kickoff event. Through these simple events, Cornerstone has been able to raise an incredible amount of money for the charity Nothing But Nets, affecting over 10,000 families in the first five years alone. Support from Cornerstone’s campus and alumni have made this event an overwhelming success.
WHAT NIGHT OF NETS IS DOING NOW
Night of Nets is currently in its eighth year of operation and since then over 60 different campus partners have hosted events and that provided over 35,000 bed nets to families across Zambia.
Through the extensive efforts of Night of Nets, Cornerstone Athletics was recently gifted the unique opportunity to attend a conference in Washington D.C. for the charity Nothing But Nets. The conference theme focused on storytelling and how to use it to help people better understand the impact one thing can have on someone’s life.
Anika Huizinga, a CU soccer player who was able to attend the conference, had this to say: “When I first came to Cornerstone and played in my first Night of Nets game, I didn’t realize how much of an impact raising money for bed nets would have. I knew that that one thing could save lives, but I wasn’t really educated as to how much of an impact it has on thousands of people who live in malaria-affected countries. The one thing they brought up throughout the summit that stuck with me was that a child dies from malaria every two minutes. This summit gave me a better understanding of why we do what we do with our Night of Nets event as we play for a purpose greater than ourselves.”
After the summit, Huizinga and the other CU guests discussed how to take what they’d learned and how to apply it to improve events on campus. They also hope to help fellow students have a better understanding of why Night of Nets is so important to the fight against malaria.
In addition to this, students were able to meet with and state the case for government support for Zambia to Senators as well.
WHAT NIGHT OF NETS WILL DO IN THE FUTURE
Night of Nets hopes to be a large part of the fight to end the spread of malaria in our lifetime.
To do this, it is constantly expanding its mission by offering new events to raise more money for Zambia. One of these events is a 5k run coming up this May.
The Night of Nets campaign shows no sign of stopping, and Cornerstone’s passion for the people of Zambia shows no sign of stopping either.
So in the end, what makes Cornerstone Athletics special? It’s the focus on the world instead of the individual. While at Cornerstone, athletes not only get the opportunity to play on top-notch fields and receive great coaching, but to use the influence of sports to bring people together to meet a larger need.
Hopefully, the day will come when bed nets to Zambia are no longer needed, but I get the feeling Cornerstone Athletics will still find a cause to fight for.