Els for Autism Pro-Am Raises $1.2 million

School funded by the tournament to open its doors in August

Palm Beach Gardens, FL (March 13, 2015)—The seventh annual Els for Autism Foundation Charity Pro-Am golf tournament, held March 9 at Old Palm Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida attracted a legendary cast of 22 golfers, including Rory McIlroy, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. The annual, star-studded golf event is sponsored by Cigar Aficionado and Wine Spectator magazines, and raises funds toward the Els Center for Excellence. The Els Center, a school and research facility devoted to educating children and young adults across the autism spectrum co-founded by Ernie and Leiszl Els, will open its doors this August.

“There may be other pro-ams, but thanks to Ernie nobody else has this turnout,” said Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado magazine. “We’ve been thrilled to watch this event grow since it began in 2009. Because of the dedication of the Els Foundation for Autism and the generosity of our participants and sponsors, the Center that was a gleam in our eyes seven years ago will be a reality in the next few months.”

The Els Center of Excellence—a $30 million project—has been a primary goal for the Foundation since its inception. The site is envisioned as a hub of education and information for autism, which affects 1 in 68 children in the United States, and 1 out of every 42 boys. Last year, ground was broken on the center, and it is scheduled to welcome its first students on August 24 of this year.

At a party the night before the start of the tournament, Ernie Els spoke about the enduring needs of children who have autism. He and his wife were moved to create the education center in part by their dissatisfaction with the current facilities available to autistic children. “It’s almost as if these kids were pushed aside,” he said. “They’re very special kids that need special treatment. We’re honored to have the opportunity now to provide the resources that they need.”

The Charity Pro-Am golf tournament raised $1.2 million for the foundation this year, surpassing earnings from last year by more than half, and bringing the total for the event’s seven years to more than $7 million.

The participating companies included Bacardi, Banfi, Brown-Forman, Campari America, Charmer-Sunbelt, Diageo, Deutsch & Sons, Giuliani Partners, Glazer’s, Millennium Management, Moët Hennessy USA, Pernod Ricard, PGA National, Republic National Distributing, SAP USA, Sebonack Golf Club, Southern Wine & Spirits, Stonehage and Terlato Wines.

Twenty-two professional golfers also lent their support, including Els, Rory McIlroy, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Thomas Aiken, Keegan Bradley, K.J. Choi, Luke Donald, Jason Dufner, Ian Baker Finch, and Brooks Koepka, among others.

For more information about the tournament, please visit: http://www.cigaraficionado.com/webfeatures/show/id/1.2-Million-Raised-by-Els-for-Autism-Pro-Am-18059

Information about the Els for Autism Foundation can be found at Ernie Els’ website at http://ernieels.com/els-for-autism/. For contributions to the Els Center of Excellence, all checks can be made out to Els for Autism Foundation, Attn: Foundation Controller, 3900 Military Trail, Ste. 200, Jupiter, Florida 33458, or you can go directly to the website and donate by credit card.

About Cigar Aficionado

Cigar Aficionado has been the world’s leading authority on cigars since its launch in 1992. Dubbed “The Good Life Magazine for Men”, the print publication and its accompanying website (CigarAficionado.com), focus on luxury lifestyle topics such as golf, travel, alcohol and accessories. Cigar Aficionado also sponsors events such as The Big Smoke, the country’s premier event for cigar smokers. Parent company M. Shanken Communications also publishes Wine Spectator, Market Watch, Whisky Advocate, Shanken News Daily and Impact.

About The Els for Autism Foundation
The Els for Autism Foundation was established in 2009 by Ernie and Liezl Els to focus on the issue of autism. The Els son Ben is profoundly impacted by the disorder which affects 1 in 88 children in the U.S. For the last four years the world class pro golfer and his wife have devoted their efforts to a catalytic philanthropic project – The Els Center of Excellence. The first of its kind Center will focus on a digital e- learning platform that gives children on the spectrum around the world access to best practices in education and therapy. It will also help connect the international autism community with best practices and the very latest information and research. The 26 acre facility will also have an on-site education for 300 students ages 3-21, medical and professional services, research, transition to adulthood, adult living and on-site job training. The Foundation has launched a capital campaign to raise $30 million to finance the facility; the Els’ have committed $6 million of their own money.