Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This week, we speak with model and actress Molly Sims about her involvement with United Against Malaria, a coalition of soccer players, foundations, governments, corporations and individuals fighting to eradicate a disease that kills a child every 30 seconds despite its treatability. One of coalition's objectives is to increase mosquito net coverage in malaria-prevalent areas in Africa, so that millions of lives will be saved by the time of the 2014 World Cup.
Sims has been featured as a model in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition four years in a row. She has also appeared in magazines such as Glamour and Cosmopolitan. In her acting career, she has played the daughter of James Caan’s character on the NBC series “Las Vegas”, which ran from 2003-2008. She has also appeared in feature films such as “Yes Man” and on NBC’s late-night live sketch comedy series “SNL.”
In addition to United Against Malaria, Sims has been involved with other charity organizations including Population Services International’s (PSI) child survival program, Five & Alive; Friends of El Faro, which strives to improve the lives of children in Tijuana, Mexico; Operation Smile; and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.
Q: What is United Against Malaria?
Sims: United Against Malaria is organizations, countries, people, footballers, people all going together to fight malaria. We’re trying to wipe it out. A child dies every 30 seconds, more than a million people die every year. It’s completely preventable. Having a mosquito net, which is my involvement. I’m an ambassador for Five & Alive, for PSI, and we’re going to do my first trip with them to Haiti, and we’re bringing mosquito nets in for $10. For $10, you can save a family for five years. So that’s really our goal, to wipe out malaria. All the forces, which is why I threw in the football players, are for the World Cup South Africa 2010 United Against Malaria. Everybody’s coming together to try to fight it, so it will be a global thing.
Q: What is your specific role within the organization?
Sims: We just filmed a PSA, it’s really to educate. The reason why I’m involved is because of PSI, I’m an ambassador, and we’re going to Haiti. I think that’s the biggest thing about PSI, is that they help people help themselves. So we’re going to teach them how to use the mosquito nets, to show them what to do, because believe it or not, they don’t even know that.
The Gates Foundation is behind us, the Global Foundation is behind us, but really it’s get the word out that malaria is completely and utterly preventable. That’s what you don’t realize. When I was in D.C. and I was doing training, they were like “Imagine three jumbo jets, planes full of children, everyday die” for no reason. So, if I can spread the word, and educate people… I think the biggest thing for me is educating, it’s the mosquito net.
Q: Why did you decide to get involved with United Against Malaria?
Sims: I think my involvement with children, really learning with PSI what area I wanted to focus on. I really wanted to focus on the survival of kids under 5 … the survival kit that we’re pushing. Something that we can prevent — diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia. It’s working with Pure from Proctor & Gamble, purifying simple water. Pneumonia, diarrhea … kids die of every day. In America, we take so many things like that for granted, and I think that’s why the whole United Against Malaria, people in America don’t even realize it.
Q: Have you had a moving experience while working with the organization?
Sims: We went to Haiti Oct. 19-22. You know, just really realizing … we’re trying to figure out where I wanted to go, and where I wanted to touch, that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and it’s an hour, almost an hour and a half, maybe two hours outside of Miami. So, for me that’s something I was like, “OK, let’s start with Haiti. Let’s go there. Let’s do it.” So our goal is to have a mosquito net in every family to wipe it [malaria] out.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add in closing?
Sims: UnitedAgainstMalaria.org … you don’t have to do a lot, say a lot. You can give a dollar, you can give a dime. I think what Obama did in the way of how he ran his campaign. A lot of people when they feel like they want to help, but they don’t know how to help, but you don’t have to be a millionaire to help. He won his campaign on a dollar donation, as much as a $10,000 donation. Knowledge is everything, and getting behind something.
I love the World Cup. Because the World Cup is such a global thing that with all the soccer players, and all the footballers, with all the people behind it, that just raises more awareness to such a simple thing that we can totally wipe out. That’s malaria. A lot of people take it for granted. I sure did, I had no idea.
It’s interesting, we’re worried about the swine flu … not that we shouldn’t be worried, I’m not saying that, I’m just saying that I think we just don’t know. So, that’s why I got involved, and I’ve been working with kids. We had our big benefit Sept. 24 in L.A. for El Faro.We help 110 kids, and I know it’s 110 kids, but it’s 110 kidsthat are better off. So that’s what I realized working with that organization from the ground up six years ago, is that you can make a difference. We have 15 people on our committee, and here we’re in 65 countries. So big or small, it’s just making a little bit of a difference.
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