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Students Aim to Curb Meningitis

The co-creators of OneShot. Photo courtesy of Rosie Gochnour/The State Press(PHOENIX) -- In 2006, entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie created TOMS Shoes after witnessing children living barefoot during a trip to Argentina. His company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need in one of 23 countries every time someone purchases a pair from TOMS. It’s a philosophy he refers to as “one-for-one.”

Inspired by Mycoskie’s company, Tyler Eltringham, a sophomore at Arizona State University, decided to create his own “one-for-one” movement. But it wasn’t with shoes, it was with vaccines. So Eltringham teamed up with four other ASU students to create OneShot in November 2010.

Recently they’ve been working with ASU Health Services and University Housing to give all incoming freshman the opportunity to receive Menactra, a vaccine for meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

Then, for every shot administered to students at ASU, OneShot plans on giving those vaccinations to high-risk places in Africa.

To help raise some awareness and finances for OneShot, the team submitted their idea to ASU’s Innovation Challenge, which is in its second year at ASU. The goal is to give young entrepreneurs and innovators the chance to get their ideas heard and funded.

More than 150 teams competed this year and Eltringham’s OneShot took top prize, winning $10,000 in February. The $10,000 is a start for OneShot, but there is still a lot more funding that goes into a project of this size. Due to a lack of finances, the team cannot travel to Africa to administer the vaccinations themselves. To help raise money for OneShot, the team seeks out different competitions like the ASU Innovation Challenge, hoping to win more funding.

The organization is currently entered in the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative Competition, which helps provide funding, training, and office space for teams of students across ASU to explore their innovative ideas. The winners of the competition are scheduled to be announced this month.

On ASU’s move-in day in August OneShot aims to vaccinate 10 to 15 percent of the 10,000 incoming freshman. This is heavily dependent on receiving more funds; and without additional financial support, they would only be able to provide vaccines for between one and three percent of the students.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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