March 4, 2010

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Troy Alexander is talking nets, and not the basketball kind he knows so well.

For the Santa Clara guard, this weekend's West Coast Conference tournament in Las Vegas is about much more than just how his team performs.

Alexander is trying to raise awareness of the malaria epidemic in Africa and find supporters to donate toward the purchase of mosquito-repellant nets to protect children while they sleep so they can avoid contracting the sometimes-fatal infectious disease.

Alexander has already raised nearly $3,000 through the campaign Nothing But Nets, but he is now aiming for more than $5,000.

"My original goal was $1,000. I figured I'd start modest, but I was blown out of the water when I got that after only a few days," he said. "I said, 'I might have to raise my goal."'

Alexander has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support since he began his efforts in mid-February after reading about the campaign. He was moved to assist any way he could. Alexander has been using social networking to spread the word, on his Twitter and Facebook accounts, and that helped him quickly reach that initial $1,000 mark.

He also sent an e-mail to every one of his contacts.

"That's the beauty of social-networking," Alexander said.

He has asked for as little as $10 to help save a life - that buys one protective net. He has received some donations up to $300.

"I am hearing from a lot of people I don't even know," he said. "At this point I thought things would start to slow down but I'm finding the word is continuing to spread."

In fact, money is still coming in daily on his page of the Web site: http://tinyurl.com/yzsc48m - and Alexander is looking to get other teams from the WCC involved and perhaps eventually spread the word throughout college basketball.

"My original goal at the beginning was not to just raise money through my name but to set up a template that other colleges and student-athletes could use around the country," Alexander said. "That's my bigger goal."

Alexander might even become more involved as a spokesperson for Nothing But Nets. He didn't realize the severity of the problem until he read about the millions of cases of mosquito-borne malaria each year.

"I thought I'd try to do something on my own," Alexander said. "It's definitely a cause that caught my attention. I didn't know it was such an epidemic. I knew the epidemic was in Africa but I didn't realize how many children were dying. There's a direct correlation you can make between sports and Nothing But Nets."

As a member of Santa Clara's student athletic advisory committee, Alexander also has brought up the idea of making this a conference-wide competition. He plans to stay involved throughout his college career.

Alexander's Broncos open the WCC tournament Friday against San Diego.

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On the Net:

http://nothingbutnets.net/