March 01, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
NEW YORK; March 1, 2007 — Madness Against Malaria (MAM), a unique international online fundraising and awareness-raising initiative modeled after the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament, today entered its second phase as the top 64 teams were entered into a tournament bracket (see:

More than 100 teams from dozens of countries around the world have been participating in MAM, which launched in September 2006 and was lauded for its creativity by First Lady Laura Bush during the December 2006 White House summit on malaria. During the first phase, $68,000 in funds were raised to purchase more than 14,000 life-saving long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets (LLINs)—a simple yet remarkably effective means of combating a disease, which despite being fully preventable and curable, kills 1-3 million people each year—70% of whom are children under the age of five.

Beginning today, the 64 teams that have raised the most money will compete “knock-out style” against each other for one week. The team from each pair that raises the most money in the allotted time period will move on to the next round. Just as in the NCAA basketball tournament, MAM will feature “Sweet 16,” “Elite 8,” and “Final Four” rounds leading up to the championship. On April 16, the winning team will be determined. All participants win the satisfaction of helping to save lives, and the real winners are those in the impoverished villages plagued by malaria that will benefit from these efforts.

“As people enter into office pools and bet on the NCAA’s, I’d like to encourage them to donate a portion of their wagers and winnings, even just a few dollars, to this important cause,” said Lance Laifer, who co-founded MAM along with Rob Mather of the World Swim For Malaria Foundation (WSMF).

All of the funds raised through MAM will be used to purchase long-lasting insecticidal bed nets, which cost just five dollars apiece and are extremely effective at preventing malaria, which is spread by mosquitoes.

The 64 competing teams include groups from Merrill Lynch, Emory University, George Washington University, Notre Dame University, and various hedge funds, as well as families and individuals. The current teams in the top eight showcase the international nature of the competition, representing the USA, Kenya, Italy, Nepal, and Denmark.

As of February 28, the top four seeds were:

1. “Team USA,” sponsored by New York-based Dukas Public Relations, which has been joined in the effort by several of its prominent clients, including Laurus Funds, Blue Mountain Capital Management, and Phoenix Ancient Art.

2. “Six Degrees of Tilson,” led by Whitney Tilson, a hedge fund manager and founder and Managing Partner of T2 Partners LLC and Tilson Mutual Funds, Tilson’s parents were the first couple to meet and marry in the Peace Corps, and now live permanently in Kenya. Their dedication to the region sparked his passion for stopping malaria related deaths, 90 percent of which occur in Africa.

3. “Molfetta Against Malaria,” a group out of Molfetta Bari in Italy.

4. “Ride the Lightening,” a group of anonymous supporters worldwide.

“Madness Against Malaria is about more than raising money,” said hedge fund manager and philanthropist Laifer. “Raising awareness about this deadly disease is vitally important. By sensitizing people to malaria and its deadly consequences we can hopefully encourage them to support governments, elected officials, organizations such as the World Health Organization, and others who are working to bring an end to malaria.”

Laifer is also the co-founder of Hedge Funds vs. Malaria, a group of hedge fund managers working together to come up with innovative ideas to raise money and awareness within the hedge fund community about malaria.

To participate in Madness Against Malaria by supporting one of the top 64 teams, visit