NEW YORK (UMNS) – United Methodist Bishop Thomas Bickerton has spent the past five years telling people how an investment as small as $10 can help reduce the number of malaria deaths in Africa.

On April 25, he and other “champions” in the fight against malaria were recognized for their efforts by the Nothing But Nets organization.

The event at the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel also marked World Malaria Day 2011 and served to launch a new public service announcement that will appear on the Toshiba vision screen in Times Square through May 21. During an evening reception at the United Nations, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon unveiled the Champions to End Malaria Photo Exhibit, which will run through May 22.

Nothing But Nets is a global, grassroots campaign to save lives by preventing malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. Founding partners of the campaign, created in 2006 by the United Nations Foundation, include the people of The United Methodist Church, Sports Illustrated and the NBA Cares Foundation.

Besides the bishop, other champions at the launch were actress Mandy Moore, retired NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, Roll Back Malaria Executive Director Awa Coll-Seck and Boy Scout Nate Stafford.

Bickerton, who leads UMC’s Pittsburgh Area, serves as spokesperson for the denomination’s Global Health Initiative. The initiative includes Nothing But Nets and Imagine No Malaria, a denominational campaign to raise $75 million to help eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. Gifts to Imagine No Malaria surpassed $17 million this month.

Donations to Imagine No Malaria can be made online at

Linda Bloom serves as a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York.