By Adam Beard
What started off as a hashtag for Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee is now his own nonprofit organization.
#JUGLIFE is a brand with a simple idea: drink a gallon of water a day to promote hydration and a healthy lifestyle. The company also raises money to help provide clean drinking water around the world.
“I started drinking a gallon of water a day probably in like 2012 during a playoff series,” McGee said. “I started feeling better … my partner came into the situation, and it became an actual nonprofit.”
“It definitely means that I’m giving somebody a positive outlook in life and being a positive influence on them, especially to get healthier.”
Along with the conversation on Twitter and Instagram, purchasing merchandise from the official #JUGLIFE website is a way to support countries that do not have easy access to clean drinking water. Items include foam jugs, beanies and clothing, with more to come in the future. The profits go toward building water wells in different countries.
“We’ve raised enough for one well right now,” McGee said. The seven-footer is optimistic that #JUGLIFE will keep the proceeds coming.
In addition to the website, McGee put on the first annual #JUGLIFE Celebrity Softball Game in August on the UCLA campus. All of the ticket sales went toward the mission of building water wells in Uganda for 500 students who are HIV-infected and do not have water. McGee and his #JUGLIFE partners are set to travel there during the summer of 2015.
#JUGLIFE is currently on its Water Education Tour, which is comprised of fun-filled, interactive presentations in public elementary schools. Students learn the importance of drinking water, conserving water and leading a healthy and active lifestyle.
These are not just typical lectures, though. Athletes come when their schedules permit, and McGee even hosted a water-chugging competition at one of the tour events.
McGee’s favorite part about #JUGLIFE is “the crowd participation and just everybody being a part of it."
There is no doubt that the ripple effects of the #JUGLIFE foundation have been huge, but it’s the initial splash of the hashtag McGee used that initiated the good cause.