Golf News for Monday, November 18, 2013 | Charity

Gary Player Invitational gala auction raises charity funds

SUN CITY, South Africa -- Wings & Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka were the big winners at the glittering Gary Player Invitational (GPI) gala auction which took place at The Palace of the Lost City last night (Friday 15 November) and raised over R 4 million.

The GPI, Africa's leading charity tournament, is presented by Coca-Cola and takes place at the Lost City Golf Course, featuring celebrities teamed with professional golfers and leading business executives.

The black-tie event, which is the tournament's largest fundraiser, saw golfing stars Gary Player, Retief Goosen, Tony Johnstone and Cheyenne Woods rubbing shoulders with Law & Order star Anthony Anderson and CSI New York's Carmine Giovinazzo, Westlife's Brian McFadden and his glamorous wife Vogue, as well as South Africa's first couple of radio Unathi and Thomas Msengana.

As always the most sought after item at the auction was the all-expense paid, week-long trip to The Masters including staying in The Player Group House as a personal guest of Gary Player and Black Knight International. The item went for R350 000 purchased by Grant Horsfield, Chairman of Naked Resorts in China.

All funds raised will be distributed to Wings & Wishes and the Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka.

Wings and Wishes was established by staff at the Coca-Cola Sabco bottling plant in Port Elizabeth in 2006, to transport critically ill children to specialised government hospitals around South Africa. "We will do 2 000 plane trips this year in order to transport needy children to hospitals for life saving surgery. The funds raised during the GPI will help us continue to grow that number in 2014," said Doug Jackson, the CEO of Coca-Cola Sabco bottling plants across Africa and Asia.

The Wildlands Conservation Trust in partnership with Qhubeka uplifts local communities by establishing "green jobs" for the poor and unemployed, focusing on recycling and encouraging the growing of indigenous trees, through community-based 'Waste-preneurs' and 'Tree-preneurs'. Wildlands operates in 60 communities, growing over 1 200 000 trees and collecting over 6 million kg of recyclable waste annually. The waste and trees are bartered for items such as bicycles, building materials, school fees and food.

"Since February 2013, 911 Waste-preneurs have started collecting PET (plastic) and have collected over 40 000 kg - the equivalent of 1 200 000 PET bottles. This staggering achievement is real testimony to the impact of this wonderful project, made possible by the GPI and Coca-Cola," said Wildlands CEO Dr Andrew Venter.

Wildlands sources the bicycles for its waste-preneur and tree-preneur programmes from Qhubeka, World Bicycle Relief's programme in South Africa which has distributed more than 40 000 bikes across the country, 26 000 of them to schools.

The Player Foundation, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, has raised over R500 million for charities across the globe through the GPI, an annual series played across four continents and featuring top professional golfers, celebrities and business leaders.

The tournament gets underway today, with the celebrities teaming up with professional golfers and business leaders. Tickets are available at Computicket (R75 for adults, R50 for pensioners and R60 for under 18s). For more information on the event, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter.

Gary Player Invitational 2013 Series

United States - Georgia
Dates: 14-15 April 2013
Champions Retreat, Augusta

United Kingdom - England
Dates: 22 July 2013
Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey

China - Shanghai
Dates: 4-5 November 2013
Shanghai Links

South Africa
Dates: 16-17 November 2013
The Lost City Golf Course, The Palace Hotel, Sun City

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 Masizame in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, and AIDS infected children in Baoshan, a drug-infested city located on the China-Burma border. 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.

About The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, the world's most valuable brand, the company's portfolio features 15 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, Vitamin Water, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, it is the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy its beverages at a rate of 1.8 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, the company is focused on initiatives that reduce its environmental footprint and which support active, healthy living; as well as creating a safe, inclusive work environment for its associates; and enhancing the economic development of the communities where it operates. Together with its bottling partners, the company ranks among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700 000 system associates. For more information, visit www.thecoca-colacompany.com, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo or visit our blog at www.coca-colablog.com

About the Beneficiaries:

Wings and Wishes
Wings and Wishes was started by staff at the Coca-Cola Sabco bottling company in Port Elizabeth to collect air-miles to transport critically ill children to receive super-specialist medical care.

Wildlands Conservation Trust
The Wildlands Conservation Trust has networks in 35 communities transforming the lives of South African waste-preneurs and tree-preneurs who grow over 600 000 trees and hand-collect over 3 million kilograms of recycled waste annually. The waste and trees are bartered for bicycles, building materials and food as part of the Wildlands' vision to restore the ecosystems that underwrite the welfare of these communities.