One of the 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People in the World
Through the successes of the organization that Madelyn helped found, she has become widely known and has been a recipient of a number of awards and recognitions. Madelyn has been a recipient of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award as well as the Discus Award, and more recently, has been included in the list of the 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People in the World by Youth Service America. These awards, among all others that Madelyn has been given, simply prove just how much of an inspiration and encouragement she has been to a lot of people.
Everyone who has had the opportunity of working with Madelyn admire her amazing passion, courage and dedication to help others. Madelyn’s leadership abilities inspire everyone around her to do their best in serving the cause of their organization, and her extraordinary passion empowers her fellow workers to keep on promoting the cause of NETwork Against Malaria. Even people from outside the organization who spends time with Madelyn recognize the aura of encouragement that she carries everywhere she goes.
An example of this is Jill Saunders, the spokeswoman of the Build-a-Bear Foundation, who says of Madelyn in an interview:
“Madelyn really kind of amazed us because she identified a very important need in third world countries and a problem that exists, which is malaria. She came up with a very creative and fundamentally simple idea -- I think that the best ideas often are these simple solutions -- and then she made that happen. Not only did she make that happen, but she shared that information and how she did that with thousands of other volunteers.”
Dedicated to NETwork Against Malaria
Madelyn’s dedication in the work of NETwork Against Malaria comes from her realizing how easily this disease can be prevented, and yet there are still millions dying from it. From the first time she learned of Malaria, Madelyn became very eager to help prevent the spread of this disease so that lives can be spared from something that can easily be prevented. Madelyn said in a blog she wrote many years later:
“We learned that malaria kills one child every 30 seconds. It was a terrible realization that children were suffering and dying from a preventable disease. So we decided to help... I have flown all across the country teaching people about malaria and how easy it is to prevent it.”
Another thing that empowered Madelyn in being passionate about her philanthropic work is the genuine desire that she saw in every person to contribute something productive to their community and help their fellow citizens. But while these people have this longing to be of a significant help to their society, most of them do not know where to start and as time goes by the fire cools down.
This is why Madelyn is so extraordinary. Like everyone else, she had a desire to help people, but she was able to pinpoint the need and fill it with whatever she can. In an interview made with her, Madelyn stated:
“Through my years of working with individuals of all ages and backgrounds, I have learned that most people genuinely want to help. Most people want to reach out to those in need and make a difference in our world. Often, people just do not know how to begin.”
With all her and her organization’s achievements in helping to prevent the spread of Malaria, Madelyn knows that there is still much that has to be done—and with this knowledge, Madelyn and her team never stops in devoting their time, energy and effort to ensure that more people can be reached and saved by something as simple as a bed net. In an interview, Madelyn said:
“Our ultimate goal is to eradicate malaria from the world, so 11,900 bed nets is a huge deal but we have a long way to go.”
Madelyn McGlynn was born in 1995 to Bellville attorney Michael McGlynn and housewife Claire McGlynn. Madelyn was the youngest of five sisters – Maura, Margaret, Kathleen and Mary Claire – of whom she would collaborate with later on in her life to establish NETwork Against Malaria. Both Michael and Claire were loving and supportive parents, and often encouraged Madelyn and her sisters by telling them that they were meant to do something great; and that Michael and Claire would support their children to that day.
Much of what made Madelyn came from both of her parents, whom she considers as both an inspiration and a role model. She got her sense of social justice and desire to help the community from her father Michael, who was one of the most respected attorneys in the city. Madelyn often remembered Michael telling her and her sisters how making a positive change in society did not have to come from something big; it came from a desire deep down that is coupled by actions, no matter how small they may be. Her mother Claire was a real encourager; Madelyn often stated in interviews made with her that Claire was always her biggest fan, and that whenever she or her sisters would be up to something, it was their mother that would always be the first one to support them.
The love and care that Madelyn received from her parents and siblings enabled her to grow up with a caring and kind personality. Aside from this, the security that Madelyn got from her parents’ affirmation caused her to become a success in her school life, often being praised by her teachers for having a bright and intelligent mind.
Educated about Malaria by Michael Christopher Mujule
During the summer after Madelyn’s sixth grade year, she and her sisters were privileged to meet Michael Christopher Mujule, a man whom their father invited for lunch. Mujule was a reverend from Uganda, a country plagued by poverty and disease, one of which was Malaria. He went to the United States to seek assistance and was advised to spend some time with American families. Little did Madelyn and her sisters know how their meeting with Mujule would change their lives forever.
As he ate lunch with the McGlynn family, Mujule told stories of how life was in Uganda; he shared the experiences that every Ugandan family normally had, including the good and the bad. As he kept on sharing, one thing came to Madelyn’s attention – Mujule’s discussion about the problem of Malaria in their country.
It was quite new for Madelyn to hear about Malaria, a disease that United States citizens need not fear because of the measures that the government has taken to prevent this disease from affecting the communities in the United States. But as she kept on listening to Mujule’s stories, something lit on the inside of Madelyn that caused her to want to know more about this disease that is claiming the lives of Mujule’s fellow Ugandans.
Her Mosquito Nets Crusade Begins
After that lunch, Madelyn and her sisters talked about what they just heard and decided to learn more about this disease called Malaria. Madelyn recalled this experience in a blog she wrote many years later:
“The summer after my sixth grade year, we met Michael Christopher Mujule, a man from Uganda. My father invited him to our house for lunch. He told us stories about his friends and family. Intertwined in these stories of happiness and fond memories were stories about malaria and the terrible pain this disease caused Mujule and his friends. Being from America, we did not know about malaria because it is no longer prevalent here. My sisters and I wanted to help, so we researched malaria.”
What Madelyn found in her research was a terrible fact that shocked her to her very core. Malaria, as she had learned, was a disease that killed millions of people around the planet every year. But aside from this information, the information that really gave Madelyn the shock of her life was finding out that this disease was so easily prevented. It then dawned on her: Why were so many people dying from a disease that could be kept at bay by simple mosquito nets?
Founding the NETwork Against Malaria
Right there and then, Madelyn knew that she had to do something. Along with her sisters and the support of their parents, Madelyn decided to start an organization that would help prevent the spread of Malaria by providing those who were affected with bed nets. It was not something big like a cure – it was a simple net, but this ‘simple’ bed net can save the lives of the families that lived in areas where Malaria was a huge risk. This was how NETwork Against Malaria was born – from a simple, yet powerful desire of five sisters to change the fate of people that they never even knew.
There was a bit of a problem. First of all, Madelyn and her sisters did not know where to start. What was worse was, they had these initial apprehensions and fears that people would not take them seriously because of their age. In spite of these seemingly huge obstacles, Madelyn and her sisters courageously pursued their desire to make a positive change in the lives of families who were at risk of catching Malaria. With the guidance of Mujule and the encouragement that they received from their parents, Madelyn and her sisters began to properly organize a system that would enable them to distribute bed nets to families in the parts of the world who were at risk of having Malaria, starting with the country of Uganda. After drafting their plan, they submitted their advocacy to Youth Venture and received a one thousand dollar grant from the organization.
Soon enough, Madelyn and her sisters began to put their plans into action. As she went forward by letting people be informed of the dangers that Malaria posed in certain parts of the world and how easily it could be prevented by donating a small amount to provide families in these parts with bed nets, Madelyn was overwhelmed with the response she received – her fears of people not taking her seriously were not true after all. In fact, those who heard Madelyn speak were very eager to help, doing what they can so they can support the organization that Madelyn and her sisters founded.
It was not long until the organization’s efforts became known to the larger public, then eventually across the entire United States. In a short span of time, Madelyn and her sisters became famous due to their amazing efforts in helping those who were at risk of getting Malaria. As more and more people became aware of how easy it was to prevent Malaria, they became persuaded to do their part and voluntarily gave financial assistance to NETwork Against Malaria so that they can help as many people as possible.
Whenever Madelyn went to inform people of the work being done by NETwork Against Malaria, she would always be astounded with the positive response from them. In a blog she wrote years later, Madelyn recalled the story of one of NETwork’s volunteers whose life changed because of his involvement with the organization:
“I am reminded of one volunteer who was having a rough time in school with grades as well as interacting with other students. He began volunteering for NETwork when he was 16. I spoke about NETwork to his youth group in a small Midwestern town. After that, he came to every local event and began speaking to crowds about malaria. He channeled his fun and creative ideas to develop new fundraising activities. NETwork made a big difference in his life. Before his involvement in NETwork, he spent his nights planning pranks to play on his teachers and his days fulfilling them. But now, he is at an internationally renowned university studying agricultural sciences to solve world hunger. He has brought NETwork to the community there.”
As Madelyn and her sisters continued to promote the aim of NETwork, they also began to learn more about the lives of the people that the organization was changing – not just the lives of those who received the bed nets, but also the lives of those who voluntarily gave to provide them.
Whenever Madelyn sees a net being delivered, she always gets reminded of the change that it will make in the life of whoever receives it. Most of us today who live in places where we are safe from Malaria would see this as something peripheral, but to those who live in areas where Malaria is a huge risk, having a bed net is a life changing event. Madelyn often says in her speeches:
“Each net that was distributed will have a story because the child who receives it will take it home and live their life protected by it. Each net will become an important part of the Ugandans' lives. The children who sleep under them will grow up and one day tell stories of their homes and undoubtedly, the nets will be a part of this.”
NETwork Against Malaria Help Change and Save Lives
But aside from the stories of the lives of those who have received the bed nets, the changed lives of people who have supported the cause of NETwork inspire Madelyn as well. She has learned that through NETwork, many people have found something that would help them become responsible members of the community. The organization did not just make a difference in the physical plane – it also sparked a change in the mindsets of the people. Madelyn wrote in her blog:
“Just as each net has a story, each dollar raised has a story. One of my volunteers loves to tell the story of the first dollar she made for NETwork. A stand was set up at a local carnival for the city's grade schools. The first dollar she made was just that: $1. She sold two baked goods to a little boy who was more than happy to buy them. She says it touched her in a way nothing else has.”
From its humble beginnings, NETwork Against Malaria grew to become a global organization that is supported by tens of thousands of volunteers. From a group of five sisters, it has since expanded to a network of thirty five thousand volunteers not just from the United States, but also from other parts of the world. Around eighty thousand dollars have been collected, and over twelve thousand bed nets have been distributed to families in places where Malaria is a huge risk.
Not only has the organization received worldwide acclaim, but its founders, including Madelyn have also been individually recognized as beacons of light and hope through their work with NETwork Against Malaria. In 2009, Madelyn became a recipient of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, a prestigious award given to recognize youth that have made a powerful impact in the lives of people.
In 2012, Madelyn was honored by Youth Service America by placing her in their list of the 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People in the World. That same year, Madelyn received three various recognitions: a Discus Award, a Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, and a Build-a-Bear Huggable Hero Award.
Up to this day, Madelyn is still amazed by how much her and her sisters’ efforts have made an impact in the world. Her accomplishments have kept her humble by helping her realize that NETwork Against Malaria would not have become what it is today had it not been for the support of the people whom she was able to inspire. The stories of the lives that have been changed through NETwork keep Madelyn inspired and empowered to continue doing what she is doing.
“When I was 12, I never imagined the affects NETwork would have on people. I never imagined that we would have provided 11,500 bed nets, saving 34,500 lives. I never imagined we would inspire people to start their own organizations. I never imagined that five girls from a small town could change people's lives across the world. That is why when a package from Uganda comes in the mail, I run, not walk, to see the faces of the children we have helped to save.” – Madelyn McGlynn
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- NETwork Against Malaria
Awards and Achievements
- 2009: Received the Prudential Spirit of Community Award
- 2012: Received the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
- 2012: Received the Build-a-Bear Huggable Hero Award
- 2012: Received the Discus Award
- 2012: Included in the 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People in the World by Youth Service America