Lynda & Katherine Commale
Ten-year-old Katherine and her family have been raising awareness and money for bed nets with their NET-Raiser Team, ONE BED NET AT A TIME.
To date, Katherine and her mother Lynda have raised more than $180,000, and have also raised global awareness to the malaria situation in Africa.
It was the 2006 PBS program "Malaria: Fever Wars" that compelled Lynda to take action, as she learned not only of the devastating impact of malaria and how it kills a child in Africa every 30 seconds, but also of the incredible ease by which this deadly disease can be prevented — by sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net. At the mere age of five, Katherine understood the importance of bed nets and wanted to send them to Africa right away!
Katherine and Lynda made their first bed net presentation during Labor Day Weekend in 2006 at their church in Pennsylvania. To reach the church youngsters, they displayed actual bed nets, performed skits, crafted bookmarks, and used a handmade diorama, constructed by Katherine and her 3-old brother Joseph. During the holiday season, children from Katherine's church and local community, as well as her neighborhood friends and even her little brother hand-decorated more than 600 gift certificates, allowing gift givers to purchase bed nets in honor of a friend, teacher, or family member. The certificates were a huge success, and by Christmas, Katherine and her mother had raised more than $10,000, reaching their fund raising goal for 2006.
In early 2007, Katherine and Lynda participated in the Nothing But Nets launch in NYC where they were honored for their fundraising efforts. In front of bright lights and cameras, Katherine used her handmade diorama to show how a mosquito net covers a sleeping family in their home. It was an exciting time and they were thrilled to share their story, which has spread nationally through United Methodist Churches.
On April 25, 2007, Africa Malaria Day, Katherine and her parents attended the first ever Malaria Awareness Day at the White House in Washington, DC. They had the opportunity to hear the First Lady and President speak about the nation’s dedication to preventing this heartbreaking and debilitating disease. They also had the chance to spend time with Kyle Korver, Philadelphia 76ers’ Nothing But Nets Representative. Katherine enjoyed the African dance performance and especially enjoyed the President’s drumming and dancing.
In September of 2007, Katherine participated in the Clinton Global Initiative where she represented Nothing But Nets and the amazing grassroots efforts of children and adults throughout the world to help eliminate malaria in Africa. On the same day, she and Lynda were both featured live on CNN!
Katherine and Lynda have continued to give bed net presentations to schools and churches, including Mann Elementary School in Philadelphia, Penn., Ancillae-Assumpta Academy in Wyncote, Penn., and Malvern UMC.
2008 brought great Nothing But Nets celebrations, starting with the United Methodist Eastern Conference, where Katherine reached the $100,000 fundraising milestone thanks to Bishop Johnson and the conference support.
In April of 2008, they attended the Annual Conference for the United Methodist Church where Katherine spoke to more than 6,000 international bishops and lay people about her efforts. When asked about her goal, she responded, "When everyone who needs a bed net, gets a bed net!" Not long after the conference, the Commales were featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer and amazingly, on the front page of The New York Times.
The Commale family also celebrated a Bed Net Summer Festival at their church, Hopewell UMC, in celebration of the awesome goal of sending more than 10,000 nets to African families in need. They were supported by many great folks, including some awesome Octorara Middle School students.
Lynda and Katherine had the great privilege in 2009 to return to Washington, DC, to participate in World Malaria Day, where Katherine was given the great honor of receiving the DragonFly Award for her dedication and commitment to ending malaria. It was quite an honor and she loves her award.
In October of 2009, Lynda had an amazing hands-on opportunity to see her and Katherine's hard work when she participated in a net distribution to Uganda, Africa. All in all, about 1,700 nets were distributed and the experience to give nets to families in need was life-changing for Lynda. Please read more about her trip on the Nothing But Nets blog, including her journal.
The Commale family also visited St. Joseph's University, Lynda and Anthony's Alma Mater, where they taught the university students and faculty all about life-saving mosquito nets. In less than an hour, they raised more than $1,400. Many more presentations to come and many more nets to send...
In Fall 2010, Katherine met with Nothing But Nets Champion Mandy Moore and her story was featured on ABC's Be the Change: Save a Life. Check out the video!
On World Malaria Day in 2011, Katherine was featured in the Nothing But Nets Champions to End Malaria photo exhibit. Joined by champions including Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, Dikembe Mutumbo, and others, Katherine helped unveil the exhibit at the United Nations Headquarters to show that anyone can be a champion in the fight against malaria.
The Commale family—Anthony, Lynda, Katherine and Joseph—will continue to fight malaria and hope you will join them.
It's pretty simple folks. Spend $10. Send a net. Save a life.