South Africa -- The Gary Player Invitational, presented by Coca-Cola, at the Zimbali Coastal Resort from 23-25 November 2012 drew the curtain on one of the most successful seasons in the history of the Gary Player Invitational Series, hosted by South Africa's legendary Grand Slam Champion, Gary Player.
The global series, which also travels to the USA, United Kingdom and China, raises funds for The Player Foundation and other selected charity beneficiaries in order to bring hope, help, and healing to underprivileged children and communities worldwide. Ahead of the 30th anniversary in 2013, The Player Foundation is quickly approaching the R500 million milestone through funds raised at GPI events to benefit those less fortunate.
Celebrating 13 years of making a difference in the lives of underprivileged children in South Africa, the event has raised over R30 million for children's charities in South Africa alone.
This year, the star-studded event attracted celebrities, professional golfers, and businessmen from around the world in the name of charity. The golf tournament saw a resurgence of South African professional Tim Clark, as he led his team of Scottish football legend Kenny Dalglish, businessmen Alex Maditsi, and Doug Jackson to a seven-point victory in his first tournament appearance in his home country in two years.
Other participants included former Ryder Cup captains Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam, Champions Tour Major winner Roger Chapman, Irish Pop Star Brian McFadden, football legend Ian Wright, Bold and the Beautiful star Jack Wagner, and model/actress Angie Everhart.
Unprecedented support from all involved contributed to a record amount of more than R4,3 million raised to take the GPI SA over the R30 million mark. All the proceeds from the Gary Player Invitational in South Africa were split between this year's nominated charities, the Wildlands Conservation Trust and Wings and Wishes.
The black tie gala and auction was an event highlight that drew incredible support from the tournament guests, many of whom made generous donations prior to the auction, while some even phoned in their bids during the evening.
The night's top bid of R520 000 was for an exclusive Masters Experience with Gary Player, including staying in The Player Group House for the week of the iconic major tournament. It was a life-sized Player Brothers Rhino, part of the Wildlands Conservation Trust's Rhino Parade, that stole the show and added an additional R110 000 to the night's total. The magnificent Gary Player and Dr. Ian Player rhino featured images of Player's iconic career, Dr. Ian Player's commitment to conservation, and highlights The Player Foundation's efforts to give back to those less fortunate.
In between the glitz and glamour of the event, Player and guests visited the impoverished Osindiswenui community green-preneurs in KwaZulu-Natal to lend a hand to the Wildlands Conservation Trust cause benefiting from the charity tournament. 14-year-old Wings and Wishes patient Rushane Malgas also served as a spokesman for the efforts of the Port Elizabeth based charity that transports critically ill children in need of medical attention.
Player spoke about being inspired by the incredible 14-year-old Malgas. "We tend to make mountains out of our troubles, but this brave young man accompanied me on the cart during my round of golf this morning and he never stopped smiling. I walked off the course and said this is my hero."
Events held at Champions Retreat in Augusta following the Masters, Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey following The Open Championship, and the Shanghai Links in Shanghai this November have also drawn overwhelming support and enabled support to needy children across the world.
In the six years of the GPI in China, over 5,000 AIDS-impacted orphans in the Yunnan, Hubel Anhui and Xinjiang areas of China have been supported by the more than RMB25 million raised. Funds raised at the Wentworth and Augusta event totaled nearly a million dollars to support Berenberg Kids and other selected beneficiaries.
"We are thankful to people around the globe that have rallied their philanthropic passions and partnered with us to evoke an outpouring of goodwill to benefit local charities in each of the four countries we visit," said Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International.
Moving forward hopes are high to continue efforts assisting underprivileged children around the world in commemoration of the Foundation's 30th Anniversary in 2013.
Gary Player Invitational 2012 Series
United States - Georgia
Dates: 9 April 2012
Champions Retreat, Augusta
United Kingdom - England
Dates: 23 July 2012
Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey
China - Shanghai
Dates: 29 - 30 October 2012
South Africa - KwaZulu-Natal
Dates: 22 - 25 November 2012
Zimbali Country Club
About The Player Foundation
The Player Foundation was established in 1983 by Marc Player. What began as an effort to provide education, nutrition, medical care and athletic activities, for a small community of disadvantaged children living on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa has now blossomed into an organization that circles the globe bringing aid to underprivileged children and impoverished communities.
The Foundation is funded primarily by four Gary Player Invitational events presented through Black Knight International. Pairing celebrities and professional golfers from the PGA and Champions Tours with businessmen and international sports figures, the annual tournaments are staged in the United States, China, Europe and South Africa. The proceeds of these tournaments and other special events provide funding for an ever- expanding number of institutions around the world, including the Blair Atholl Schools in South Africa, the Pleasant City Elementary School in Palm Beach, the Wildlands Conservation Trust in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and AIDS infected children in the Yunnan Province of China. Since its establishment, The Player Foundation has donated over $50 million dollars to the support of children's charities, the betterment of impoverished communities and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the world.
Gary Player, acknowledged as a world class humanitarian, believes that the strength of our future depends upon the abilities of our children. "I have found that the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others does not thrust itself upon us," Player says, "But we do not need to look hard for it either. When you spot the chance to give back to the world, act on it. You will have made life better, for others, and for yourself."
The Gary Player Foundation is a non-profit 501 C (3) organization managed by Black Knight International in Palm Beach, Florida.
For further information on The Player Foundation, Gary Player, or Black Knight International, visit www.garyplayer.com or contact Debbie Longenecker at firstname.lastname@example.org telephone +1-561-624-0300.