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FedEx, Junior Achievement team up to host FedEx Junior Business Challenge at THE PLAYERS

May 10, 2018

By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR Staff

It takes something special to perform under pressure. But, to do so in front of a crowd hanging on to every word and action takes something extraordinary. And, no-one knows that better than PGA TOUR player Billy Horschel.

Driven by the confidence he had in his game from the get-go, Horschel was true to his convictions. He believed in himself. He believed in his product. Time and time again, he placed his determination center stage for all to see. And today, that has resulted in five PGA TOUR victories, highlighted by the 2014 TOUR Championship title en route to the FedExCup crown.

On Wednesday of this week’s PLAYERS Championship, the Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida resident was the one on the sidelines. He was among those doing the watching as a group of talented, young individuals stood before a crowd and pushed the products in which they so passionately believed.

For the second consecutive season on the PGA TOUR, FedEx and Junior Achievement (JA) Worldwide are teaming up to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs with the FedEx Junior Business Challenge.

Students from JA of North Florida pitched original business concepts to a panel of judges, including Horschel, 2016 Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin and Olympic Gold Medalist Shannon Miller.

“This is a really wonderful way for us to connect our sponsorship with the PGA TOUR with the FedEx Cares giving platform,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, Senior VP Marketing, FedEx. “It has been an incredible success. One of the reasons we’ve made an effort to better connect sponsorships to FedEx Cares is because every time we use the sponsorships, it amplifies the results. We’ve long worked with Junior Achievement and helped them raise millions of dollars over many years. But, in just the past two years, by creating these Junior Achievements, it’s amplifying that, because it connects our JA activity to the PGA TOUR and to the players.”

Five groups of individuals, ranging in age from 14 to 18, each had five minutes to appeal to the judges that their product was the next big thing. Products ranged from lip balm inside hollowed-out finger rings, to innovative clothing, an app to let kids know of nearby recreational activities going on, an app to educate young people on personal hygiene, and another business proposal for a fruit food cart.   

Based on presentation performance, the student group selected to advance to the FedEx Junior Business Challenge finals at the TOUR Championship in Atlanta for a chance to receive a $75,000 donation from FedEx for their local JA chapter was Tropical Wave. Tropical Wave produces a fruit food cart that provides healthy food snacks known to help reduce some chronic diseases.

“I just think the overall presentation Rosa Santos made was right on,” said Horschel. “She answered some tough questions with good answers. People are trying to eat better these days, so it really fit in well with what people are paying attention to. She has gone out and created a business that allows kids and others in her community to eat healthier with her fruit cups and snacks.”

“I worked so hard on this,” said Tropical Wave creator, Rosa Santos. “From sleeping two hours a night to going to school to being in five clubs, working two jobs…all that hustle and work pays off at the end. All our efforts and leadership skills don’t come for free. They come from hard work and discipline.”

She is absolutely going to be a force in the business world,” said Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Shannon Miller. “Rosa has taken a leadership role and is really making it happen. She really understands what her business is, where it needs to grow and how it can be improved upon. It was just really inspiring to see her entire package.” 

“It was great to see these ideas the young kids have come up with,” said 2016 Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin. “There are so many, great ideas that it was hard to pick one. But, this is the future right here. These are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. They will be running the economy, so I love the idea of this. It’s an amazing experience.”

Even when it’s something fully committed to, putting oneself on the line takes strength, courage and innovation. It’s challenging and requires a healthy dose of fortitude. When a person or group can do that and come away proud, there really are no losers. Rather, there are further opportunities to break through into the winner’s circle.

“You’re only going to have one winner and we all can’t win at everything,” said Horschel. “That’s just the way life is. We’re all going to have struggles and we all have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what we didn’t do well and then improve on that. But, all these groups had unbelievable ideas here today. So, for those that didn’t win, it’s just now about taking a step back and seeing what they can do a little differently to succeed. It’s always about learning and trying to improve.”

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