Seattle has spawned all sorts of innovative approaches to selling things that most people would have thought couldn’t be sold – like a $5 cup of coffee or books without a bookstore. But even the boldest Northwest innovators likely wouldn’t have thought of this.
On Thursday night, young do-gooder entrepreneurs showed they could throw a killer party for 500-plus people in Seattle based on what most would have figured would just be a big buzz kill – diarrheal deaths in the developing world.
“We could have sold 1,000 tickets,” said Kristen Eddings, one of the organizers of the sold-out “Party with a Purpose” held at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Seattle’s South Lake Union district.
If anyone had any doubts that global health has become a cause célèbre for young folks, this event should cast them aside. Sponsored by the Washington Global Health Alliance (where Eddings works), the Gates Foundation, Boeing and many leading health organizations in town, the purpose of the party was to raise awareness of critical issues in global health and especially of one big killer — diarrhea.
“I have a job that not only condones, but encourages me to talk about diarrhea at a cocktail party,” said Hope Randall, a young woman who works at PATH and helped run an informational booth at the event.
Randall and colleague Deborah Phillips showed party-goers how a simple 10-cent packet of salts, sugars and nutrients can prevent the death of a child. PATH is working to expand the use of this solution (called oral rehydration therapy, or ORT) in Kenya and throughout Africa.
Admission and raffle tickets sold at the event raised $13,000 to help the Kenyan government increase the use of ORT. Party-goers were also shown a brief video about rotavirus, a bug that causes deadly diarrhea and kills at least 500,000 children in poor countries every year. Diarrhea from all causes kills more than 1.5 million children every year.
“Any one of us can make a difference, beginning by becoming aware,” said Libuse Binder, author of “10 Ways to Change the World in Your 20s.” Binder, who formerly worked in LA for the film industry, said she moved to Seattle a few years ago because she sees it as the center of the humanitarian universe.
Eddings also told the crowd: “Bill Gates, Sr., sent us an email … He said he believes global health is the movement of our generation.”