University of Miami alum fights malaria with bracelets

Kristen Kenney started Malaika for Life

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - A University of Miami alum who contracted malaria while filming a documentary in Tanzania is using bracelets to fight the disease.

"It's life changing," said Kristen Kenney, the founder of Malaika for Life. "You realize that you are not invincible, and you're vulnerable and you become just like every other person there fighting for your life. And that's when it really hit me -- they have to go through this every day."

Malaika for Life provides medicine to people in Africa suffering from malaria.

Malaria is caused by a parasite that is passed from one human to another by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The parasite eventually infects red blood cells, and symptoms include vomiting, muscle pain, nausea, fever, and coma.

"I really didn't know what was going to happen," said Kenney. "I just kept turning to my friend and saying, 'Am I going to be okay?'"

The experience led her to found Malaika for Life.

"It's as simple as what our slogan is: Buy a bracelet, save a life," said Kenney.

The organization quickly raised more than $119,000 selling bracelets. But Kenney needed help to keep Malaika growing, so she turned to the students of the University of Miami School of Business Administration's Hyperion Council.

"Bottom line is simple, straight forward, and Kristen has the vision, the energy, the passion," said Assistant Dean EllenMarie McPhillip. "Shoot, business is the easy part. And so that's what we did. We just stepped in and filled a gap for her."

The students created a business and marketing plan, allowing Kenney to continue raising money for medication.

"I loved seeing what we're doing and how we're touching lives and making an impact. It never gets old. It's awesome," she said.

Each bracelet is $10.

Click here to learn more about Malaika for Life.

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