Ernie and Liezl Els have a son named Ben who has autism. Ernie Els was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ernie and Liezl currently live in Jupiter, Florida and lived in London, England prior to that. They are Autism Lights because of their establishment of the Els for Autism Foundation and their ongoing advocacy for autism.
Ernie is a professional golfer who is known as the “Big Easy”. In 1986, Ernie Els was the youngest player to win the South African Amateur. There is now a Ernie Els SA Primary School Championship. He has consistently been ranked in the top of the leaderboard for world golfers and in 1994 won the U.S. Open. In 2011 he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The following ESPNmedia video tells the story of Ernie Els and his family, which they call “A Father’s Love”.
Els for Autism Foundation: In 2009 Ernie and Liezl Els formed the Els for Autism Foundation to make a difference for autism. The Els For Autism Foundation is currently on a mission to raise $30 million to complete The Center for Excellence. According to their website, the following is the vision for The Center of Excellence:
It will focus on a global digital learning platform that will give children on the spectrum around the world access to best practices in education and therapy. It will also connect the international autism community with best practices and the latest information and research. The first of its kind Center will also have an on-site education facility, medical and professional services, research and transition to adulthood.The Els gave $6 million of their own money towards the campaign and are also working hard to raise the remaining need.
Els for Autism Golf Challenge: One of the primary ways money is raised for the Els for Autism Foundation is through the Els for Autism Golf Challenge. The finals for this year’s event will be held October 23-24, 2011 in LasVegas, Nevada. The event has become the world’s largest charity golf tournament.
Els for Autism Mountain Climbing: Liezl and her daughter Samantha climbed Killimanjaro (the largest mountain in Africa) to raise money for the Els for Autism Foundation. A blog on their efforts is at this link.
Autism Speaks Public Service Announcement: The following PSA from Autism Speaks features Ernie Els.
For more information about Ernie Els visit these websites.