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Don't drink the Kool-Aid; drink water

12/7/2011
Bryan Fox and Austin Smith's new public service campaign. Liam Gallagher

Kids are like sponges. They emulate their heroes, often parroting their every behavior in an attempt to be just like them, down to the kinds of clothes they wear, how they talk and how they treat their bodies.

Bryan Fox and Austin Smith understand this. They know that as professional snowboarders, their jobs entail pushing products to impressionable youth. It's a reality they both wrestle with, but they also know they can use their snowboard celebrity for good. That's where Drink Water comes in.

Fox and Smith have had it with the abundance of energy-drink marketing dollars in snowboarding, and they've decided to use their influence to offer an antidote.

"We just wanted to promote a positive alternative to the energy-drink BS," Fox says.

"Maybe you, like us, started to feel uncomfortable about how effective these companies have become at encouraging young people to consume their product," a statement on their website wedrinkwater.com reads.

"I'm not trying to bad-mouth anyone," Fox says. "This is just my opinion pertaining to energy drinks and the effect they have had on the youth market. It's odd to see people like Travis [Rice] -- an incredible athlete [who] takes care of his body, always stretching, doing yoga, eating well and training -- promoting super-unhealthy drinks to kids. I respect Travis. I consider him a friend. He's a super-intelligent, motivated person, and I imagine he looks at it as a way to do these amazing trips and contests. But it's hard. I look at the contest he is putting on, and I think it's the coolest contest ever. It's amazing what he's accomplishing, but at what cost? Could he be doing it without energy-drink money?"

Fox and Smith started writing Drink Water on their boards last year. Then they made hoodies and stickers to hand out to like-minded friends. The idea caught on.

"We had so many people asking where they could get the gear," Fox says. "We figured we could do some good, give the people what they want."

This month, they launched a website to sell Drink Water tees, hoodies, coach's jackets and stickers. There's also a pared-down blog, team page and an embed of "The Rascals" movie that Fox made last season with Scotty Wittlake.

Fox and Smith also have pledged to donate 10 percent of their profits to Water.org. "We wanted to donate some of our proceeds to something we believe in," Fox says. "Access to water is a huge problem in so many parts of the world, so it makes sense to help get clean drinking water to those who need it."