Mughelli looking after environment

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- When Ovie Mughelli decided to use his role as a professional football player to make a difference in the world, he had many options.

A chance meeting with one of the region's most active advocates for a healthy planet pointed him in the right direction.

Mughelli didn't have an answer when Laura Turner Seydel asked him what he was doing to take care of the environment.

The daughter of high-profile business man Ted Turner, Seydel, who serves as the chairperson of the Captain Planet Foundation, has devoted herself to causes helping the Earth.

Mughelli used to litter and waste water.

"I didn't think I had any type of responsibility to this planet: I take care of me and my family and I'm doing good," Mughelli said. "She looked at be and was dead serious; she wanted to know what I'm doing."

Mughelli knew he needed to change so why not help youth do the same?

"I want to use all my free time, all my energy, toward a charitable cause toward the environment and helping out the Earth," he said after a recent workout at the Falcons practice facility, his backpack filled with a playbook and textbooks on the environment, recycling and conserving energy.

Mughelli says "there's 1,000 different ways" to help the planet and improve the lives of youth." He's trying to learn as many as possible to make a series of events and workshops effective and life-changing for middle and high school students.

For his efforts through the Ovie Mughelli Foundation, he was recently awarded the Super Hero for Earth Award from the Captain Planet Foundation.

"I get more and more knowledge every day and every week of being in this space and trying to learn... I try to have the kids do the same thing," he said.

Since starting the green initiatives in his foundation, Mughelli has met several key leaders including former Vice President Al Gore.

Mughelli admits a successful approach to cleaning the planet includes plenty of research and a meaningful explanation. Students have heard the statistics about global warming. Mughelli wants to give them the power to do something -- knowledge that turning off lights and recycling saves money. He sometimes passes out cash as rewards for correct answers at workshops.

He's worked these ideas into a football camp/environmental workshop -- the first of its kind. This year's camp will be held in May.

The fullback is also hosting Ovie Mughelli's Recycle Relay held at the Chattahoochee Nature Center April 17 and making an appearance at the Alive! Expo May 16 and 17.

Mughelli likes to involve guest speakers ranging in profession from landfill operations to organic clothing lines to show real-world applications and examples.

"As much as people want to make it a political thing, it's not," he said. "Republican, Democrat... We know we've made a negative effect on this planet," he said. "How much is debatable, but we've made a negative effect on this planet and it's our job to turn it around."

With a documented turnaround, Mughelli uses himself as an example. There's power that the message.

"When you give a child the power of information they feel pretty powerful. They're not going to care when you tell them why they should care," he said. "Once they have that power they can make a whole lot of difference."

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