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Meet the 'Greenest Football Player in the NFL' at Atlanta's Go Green Expo

Ovie Mughelli Speaks at Go Green Expo in Atlanta
Ovie Mughelli, #34 for the Atlanta Falcons.

I recently had the good fortune to speak with Ovie Mughelli, a fullback for the Atlanta Falcons, about his upcoming appearance on Sunday, June 28 at Atlanta’s Go Green Expo – a weekend-long consumer and business exhibition taking place at the Cobb Galleria.  Mughelli will be speaking Sunday at 1:30 pm and available for autographs and photos after his presentation.

I was curious to understand the connection between a major NFL star and local hero and the ‘green’ movement.  Mughelli was gracious to grant me an interview and share some insights about his personal journey toward green living.

The NFL star has long demonstrated a philanthropic history through the Ovie Mughelli Foundation, a non-profit established to help kids believe in themselves and their value in society, and inspire them to pursue a meaningful education for their own futures and the futures of the communities where they live.  Mughelli has often said his parents emphasized these ideals in his own upbringing and in fact, he was on a pre-med educational track until his athletic talent became apparent to the football community.

“People often ask me, ‘why is an NFL player going green?’” he told me, late one night after a taxing football practice on a 90+ degree day in Atlanta.  “I’ve been aware of our environmental problems since I was a kid. You hear it, but it takes a special event for it to actually sink in.” 

So what was Mughelli’s epiphany?  “Meeting Laura Turner Seydel.  As a green living expert and Chairman of the Captain Planet Foundation, Ms. Seydel has enormous passion for environmental issues and her passion has rubbed off on me.  My passion has always been about supporting the overall development of children in every way. Many professional athletes have devoted their efforts towards health and wellness. Not a lot of people in my profession have tried to tackle the environment.  I wanted to focus on an issue that was drastically affecting children but not getting as much support from my industry." 

With Mughelli’s vision and inspiration as an “eco-athlete”, the Foundation has adopted a new, eco-centric mission for 2009 and beyond emphasizing the importance of the environmental crisis to kids’ futures and helping to connect environmental stewardship concepts and practices to their lives.  “Because I love children, I have to be concerned about what I’m leaving for them.  They deserve a planet with clean air and soil, one that is a healthy environment to live in and pass on.” 

The goal of the Ovie Mughelli Foundation is to educate children, especially underprivileged and urban youth, on how they can live more environmentally conscious lives. “It doesn’t matter what a child’s background,” said Mughelli, “we want to help them understand they can have a positive effect on the planet and to educate them as to how they can be part of the solution to our environmental crisis.”

The Ovie Mughelli Foundation offers a summer camp for underprivileged and urban youth each year.  Conducted in Charleston, SC, Mughelli’s home town, the camp is part physical stimulus and part psychological stimulus for the 8 – 17 year-old children who attend.  But Mughelli now feels it’s important to use his status as a pro football hero to show children the positive impact they themselves can have on the environment.

My background with green living practices has taught me that everyone has a very personal definition of what a ‘green’ lifestyle means.  Says Mughelli, “I’m still teaching myself about how to live a green life and do a better job of taking care of our environment.  I’m still finding practical ways myself to change my lifestyle for the benefit of the planet. I believe that we must find ways to connect the environmental crisis to kids’ lives. If we can help them say ‘oh, that’s why we need to recycle or eat local produce’ and such then they will be able to not only make positive personal changes but also influence others in their homes, neighborhood and the world to do the same.”

Indeed, it is lots of little steps and little efforts that add up to big change.  The ‘little steps’ will start to show a green footprint during the 2009 Ovie Mughelli Foundation camp, when the children attending will learn about green living through such practical exercises as a special game, “Environmental Jeopardy”, wearing branded, organic T-shirts and receiving gift bags loaded with eco-friendly products. 

During Mughelli’s presentation next Sunday, July 28 at the Go Green Expo, he will share practical lifestyle changes that parents and children can make to start living a green lifestyle and protecting the environment for future generations.  “Everyone must decide to make changes.  Little ones add up.”

The Go Green Expo is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors and free for kids under the age of 12. A CareerEco green job fair will be offered both Saturday and Sunday as well. The Expo also offers a complimentary, business to business day on Friday, June 26 from 10 to 5, with free admission to anyone with a company business card. 

For more info: For a full schedule of events and to purchase tickets, visit Go Green Expo.