September 10, 2008 12:40 ET

Belinda Stronach, Rick Mercer and UNICEF Canada are Calling All Students

Brock University Hosts the Launch of the 2nd Annual Spread the Net Student Challenge

ST. CATHARINES, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 10, 2008) - Building on the success of last year's student focused campaign and the 30,000 bed nets that were distributed as a result, today Belinda Stronach and Rick Mercer are once again challenging high school, college and university students from across Canada to get their creative juices flowing to take on the Spread the Net Student Challenge, in partnership with UNICEF Canada.

"Malaria is a brutal killer, claiming more than one million lives every year," said Belinda Stronach, co-founder Spread the Net. "But there is a growing movement to fight the disease and when a simple $10 bed net can help it's easy to get involved. This year we are challenging students nationwide to raise enough to purchase 40,000 bed nets. With all the talent and energy in our schools I know that the students will rise to the challenge!"

The Spread the Net Student Challenge will run from September 10th, 2008 to March 1st, 2009. Students are encouraged to mobilize their friends, families and communities to help save the lives of children in Liberia and Rwanda. For every $10 raised, a family is provided with one long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net that can help reduce the transmission of malaria by 50 per cent.

"I am inspired by the creativity and excitement of the students and their ability to fundraise for such an important cause," said Rick Mercer, co-founder Spread the Net and challenge champion. "We look forward to this year's results!"

Last year, Dalhousie was named the top post-secondary fundraising school in Canada; raising over $17,000, while Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newmarket raised an astonishing $16,000 in the high school challenge. The co-founders of Spread the Net chose Brock University to host this year's launch because of their impressive fundraising skills, where students raised close to $5,000 in just 2 weeks of campaigning.

Brad Clarke, Manager of Student/Community Outreach at Brock University commented that, "Last year we heard about Spread the Net just before the deadline, and we were still able to raise a significant amount of money in a short period of time. This year with the launch being here, I think everyone on campus is ready to rally together for this great cause and raise more money than last year."

Spread the Net's partner UNICEF is a global leader in Malaria prevention among children and the organization is the largest purchaser of mosquito bed nets in the world. The ultimate goal of Spread the Net is to raise $5 million in 3 years for UNICEF to purchase and distribute 500,000 insecticide-treated bed nets at no cost to families in Liberia and Rwanda and educate recipients on their usage.

"The Spread the Net Student Challenge is the perfect way to engage youth in the issues affecting the world's most vulnerable children, giving Canadian students the opportunity to save and enhance the lives of children across the globe." said Nigel Fisher, President & CEO, UNICEF Canada.

For more information on Spread the Net or the challenge please visit www.spreadthenet.org and www.unicef.ca.

1 Net. 10 Bucks. Save Lives.

About Spread the Net

Spread the Net is a hip, viral, largely web-based campaign designed to educate, motivate and inspire Canadians to help eradicate malaria by fundraising to support the purchase and distribution of 500,000 anti-malaria bed nets to recipients in Liberia and Rwanda.

Spread the Net was founded in November 2006, by Belinda Stronach and comedian Rick Mercer and is powered by an innovative partnership with UNICEF Canada.


UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in 156 countries and territories to save, protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of vaccines for developing nations. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

Contact Information

  • For more information on Spread the Net, please contact:
    Spread the Net/Un filet d'espoir
    Tiffani Steer, Managing Director
    (416) 531-1945 ext. 227
    Email: tiffani@spreadthenet.org
    Website: www.spreadthenet.org
    For more information on UNICEF Canada's partnership,
    please contact: UNICEF Canada
    Kathleen Powderley, PR Consultant
    (416) 482-4444, ext. 8810 or Cell: (416) 803-5597
    Email: KPowderley@unicef.ca
    UNICEF Canada
    Robert B. Lussier
    Acting Director of Communications
    (416) 482-4444 ext. 8830 or Cell: (647) 282-7546
    Email: RLussier@unicef.ca
    Website: www.unicef.ca