Gary Player celebrated his 77th birthday in the only way he knows how - by climbing on a plane, flying halfway around the world, and giving back to charity.
The man known as The International Ambassador of Golf was the star attraction in his Gary Player Invitational, presented by Coca-Cola, in China. Player joined a host of sports stars and celebrities in this 6th such tournament in Shanghai, and teamed up with his longstanding sponsor Coca-Cola to raise over RMB 8 million for AIDS-affected children in China.
In the six years of the Gary Player Invitational China, The Player Foundation has raised close to RMB 50 million for the Chinese Foundation for the Prevention of STD and AIDS.
"That has to be the best birthday present I could ever have wished for," said a delighted Player.
The Player Foundation hosts four annual charity tournaments around the world as part of the Gary Player Invitational Series. The series tees off in the USA and travels to Europe and China before culminating in South Africa.
The Gary Player Invitational South Africa presented by Coca-Cola will be played at the Zimbali Coastal Resort in KwaZulu-Natal from 22-25 November. The South African event alone has raised over R25 million for children's charities in South Africa.
But Player's unique ability to cross cultural boundaries has seen him able to make an equally significant impact in countries such as China.
"Our theme for the China tournament this year was 'Live with Love for a Better Tomorrow'. I'm extremely proud of the fact that through this tournament we have helped more than 9062 AIDS-affected children across China. We also support about 205 AIDS-affected families and 710 AIDS-affected women, and help to provide housing aids for 21 families and university scholarships for 43 AIDS-affected children."
"You can only do that when you have great partners such as Coca-Cola, Rolex, SAP, and Callaway, who have always supported me not only in my golf but in the projects that I'm passionate about."
Chinese musicians and actors JJ Lin and Leehom Wang both attended the tournament and threw their support behind Player's charity drive.
"This is not the first GPI event I have attended. My experience reinforced my belief that every small effort counts and that we can make a big difference by working together," said Lin.
"Gary Player has inspired me with his amazingly big heart for the less fortunate."