While the golfing world is filled with news of Ernie Els winning the British Open this weekend, I thought I’d repost a video he produced for Autism Speaks. In 2005, Els’ son, Ben, was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, and after he and his wife went through the shock and grief of the diagnosis–which he himself speaks of–he realized he was in a unique position to help. And so began the plans for the Els Center of Excellence in South Florida. “Autism hits families hard,” Els wrote, “and I’ll be fighting for the rest of my life to try and help others in the same situation.”
I find it comforting to know that people like Ernie Els are giving so much to the cause of autism research and therapy. Of course, he’s got skin in the game! But he doesn’t have to go to such lengths to found a $30-million state-of-the-art facility. He could just as easily write a huge check to Autism Speaks every year, and get on with his golf. And neither is he trying to use this project as a way to burnish his image or market himself, as others have done. He’s just trying to make a difference for people like Ben.
So join me in congratulating Ernie Els on winning the British Open–something he wasn’t expected to do. But let’s congratulate him also for his generosity and dedication to something bigger than his life, his career, and his image. And if you have a mind to help out, remember that my family is going to be walking for autism research in September. We’d really appreciate any donations you could make to help us hit our goal. We can’t give $6 million, like Ernie and Liezl Els did, but we can do something that still makes a difference!