The Center for Disease Control averages 1 in 110 children in the United States have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. This means that the chances of knowing a child with autism are pretty high. The more known the disorder is the more efforts there are to do something about it. Famous golfer, Ernie Els, has an 8-year-old son with autism, and he is using his experience, recognition, and determination to really make a difference in the autism community. The Els for Autism Foundation was created in 2009 and since then, many events have been held to help raise the set goal of $30 million for the Els For Autism Center of Excellence. These centers will host researchers, as well as medical and clinical specialists that will communicate with and guide families in education and therapy programs. This free, digital service is part of the goal is to connect families all over the world with best practices for their children on the autism spectrum.” said Liezl Els, Ernie Els wife and co creator of the Foundation.
Many individuals are taking part of this mission to create the Center. Adam du Plooy, will run in the Marathon Des Sables in 2011, and hopes to raise $10,000 for Els for Autism. As well, the Annual golf tournament “Els for Autism Pro Am” which began in 2009 has raised more than $1.45 million for the cause. This year the Foundation is holding the “Els for Autism Golf Challenge” for amateur golfers. During the challenge teams join with a minimum donation amount of $2,500 to compete in this tournament. The tournament takes place in April to September of 2011 in 25 courses across the U.S.
Ernie Els has already donated 6 million dollars to the foundation, but most importantly has raised the public’s awareness of autism through the media. Celebrities really can make a huge difference, because they have the power to get the public’s attention. Els has used this influence by bringing golfers and fans into the fight against autism. Els wants to be remembered “as somebody who took the issue of autism and did something with it.” He was awarded the United Nations Peace Award for his efforts with autism in the U.S. and South Africa. He most definitely will be remembered for what he has done with the Els for Autism Foundation, and it will be exciting to see how the Els For Autism Center of Excellence will help the autism community.