“I never thought that football would ever take me anywhere,” Brees said to writer Sonya Stinson. “I played football because I loved to play. I was going to the university to get that degree-to graduate from business school and then go off to the business world, take one of my crazy ideas and try to turn it into a business,” Brees said.
Well, we’re glad Brees stuck with his love for the game. And we’re really glad that he trusted his crazy ideas too.
It gives us more to celebrate than a Saints Sunday victory. It gives us a chance to celebrate young innovators in New Orleans.
And that’s just what we’ll be doing at the Trust Your Crazy Ideas Challenge, an annual entrepreneurship program and competition for local high school students, which will culminate at the upcoming New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW).
Brees and his wife Brittany launched The Trust Your Crazy Ideas Challenge in 2009 in partnership with The Idea Village. Last year, the program engaged 48 students from eight area schools and culminated in a final pitch contest during NOEW.
Simultaneously, the Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans (JAGNO) saw great success with the introduction of their JA Be Entrepreneurial curriculum, reaching 1,400 local students from 19 different schools. The program culminated in The Junior Idea Challenge, which also took place at NOEW.
Building on that momentum, the Brees Dream Foundation and The Idea Village partnered with JAGNOto grow the reach and impact of the Trust Your Crazy Ideas Challenge, which is now a combination of both programs. This year’s winner will walk away with a $10,000 continuing education fund and $5,000 for their school.
Brees spoke about the announcement this past September.
“Every kid has a dream, they just need someone to believe in them,” Brees said. “That’s what the Trust Your Crazy Ideas Challenge is all about; surrounding students with people, opportunities, and resources that can help make their dream a reality.”
One of those kids is Madi Hannan, winner of last year’s inaugural Junior Idea Challenge. Hannan designed high-waist jean shorts from recycled material for her company, Infinite Designs, and sold her product nationwide. She even had a few international customers.
Now the young entrepreneur has moved on to her next entrepreneurial venture, and is shifting her efforts toward something that has always been a passion for her—animals.
As a freshman at LSU studying animal dairy and poultry science, Hannan painted a portrait of a friend’s pet as a hobby, and before she knew it, people were reaching out to her with special requests.
She decided to turn her hobby into a fundraising effort, and in the course of a month, raised fourteen hundred dollars with her artwork for the two local charities, Patriot Paws and the St. Francis No Kill Shelter.
Now, she spends most of her free-time, including weekends and holiday breaks, painting. But she says it doesn’t feel like work.
“One of my goals in life, regardless of what career I have is to touch as many people’s lives as I can with my artwork. I enjoy creating art, but I really love giving it. It’s a crucial part of my life,” Hannan said. “It’s become a part of me that I don’t think will ever go away.”
We’ll be keeping an eye on the young, creative entrepreneur to see what her next venture will be.
As for the upcoming Trust Your Crazy Ideas Challenge, Hannan is wishing good luck to all of the participants.
The final pitch of the 2015 Trust Your Crazy Ideas Challenge will take place at NOEW on Saturday, March 21st as the culmination of the NOLA Next Young Innovators Experience, a collaboration between Junior Achievement and The Idea Village, sponsored by the Brees Dream Foundation. NOLANext will feature workshops, speakers and demos—it’s like a mini NOEW for local students.