Giving Juice

Lees-McRae alumna is ‘Giving’ her all

Lees-McRae alumna Annette George is spreading hope with Giving Juice.

The 1983 graduate and psychology major was the inaugural speaker for the Bobcat Mentor Network Speaker Series. The event focused on George’s journey as a Bobcat, entrepreneur, mother, and advocate for her faith.

George founded Giving Juice with her husband Derek and their son John Paul to sell their specially crafted organic juice. For the couple, the company also serves as a symbol of faith and a way to give to those in need.    

“For our family, 26 years ago, there wasn't supposed to be hope,” George said. “Our son, John Paul, was born with a rare condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.” Simply put, John Paul was born with half a heart.

George, who grew up in Avery County, moved to Juno Beach, Florida, in 1997 because the warm weather was better for her son’s health.

The family spent several years working on creating the juice company. “John Paul truly believed in the exotic flavors and he told me the juice was going to be a big hit,” said George.

A week after the first shipment of the juice reached the warehouse in August of 2017, John Paul went in for a heart transplant. He died of complications from the surgery on September 10, 2017. “After the passing of John Paul, we decided to ‘give back’ through our juice in honor of our son,” said George.


“I can’t change who I am, but I can change the world as I am.”
John Paul George


The Georges created the non-profit John Paul George Heart of a Lion Foundation 501(c)(3). The foundation helps families with children in the hospital and those in need. “Through John Paul, God revealed how our weakness can become our greatest strength,” George said. Along with providing individual assistance, the foundation has partnered with groups like Little Smiles of Florida, Living Hungry, and the Boys and Girls Club.

The foundation is named after the book John Paul wrote with his dad, “Heart of a Lion: A Story of God’s Grace and a Family’s Hope.”

“John Paul might have had only half a heart, but his was a heart of unbounded courage and strength. He lived life to the fullest,” said George. John Paul’s story resonated with individuals across the country. He made national appearances on television and met several celebrities.

Speaking to Lees-McRae students as a member of the Bobcat Mentor Network is yet another way George gives back to those who could benefit from her story and experiences.

The Mentor Network connects students with Lees-McRae alumni interested in sharing their expertise. Graduates can sign up to be a mentor on the Lees-McRae website.

“I learned that grief is something that everyone struggles with however, it is what you do with the grief that is important. Annette and Derek did not wallow in it but instead made it a reason to keep going,” said one of the students who attended the event. “I am going to take Derek and Annette’s strength as inspiration to know that with faith and patience, I can achieve a long happy life.”

Giving Juice is USDA Organic, Non-GMO, No Added Sugar and No Preservatives, 100% Fruit Juice. It’s made in the USA and available in Publix stores and 900 Food Lion locations

5% of the proceeds from Giving Juice go to John Paul's Heart of a Lion Foundation.



Annette, Derek, and John Paul George
A collage featuring John Paul
Students connect with Annette George during a Bobcat Mentor Network event
By Allison AndrewsJanuary 27, 2021
Campus LifeAlumni