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Zurich Classic of New Orleans Teams Up With Ernie Els to Turn Golf Blue This Week in Support of Autism Awareness

Zurich Classic teams up with Ernie Els’ Foundation, Els for Autism, to turn golf blue this week to raise awareness and show support to those affected by autism.

Jupiter, Fla. (April 22, 2014)  The Zurich Classic has stepped up to support Els for Autism this April to recognize Autism Awareness Month at the PGA TOUR stop at TPC Louisiana, LA; April 21-27. Tournament organizers as well as Els’ sponsors have teamed up with Els for Autism on a number of initiatives to help drive awareness of a disorder that now affects 1 in 68 children in the U.S. and 1 in 42 boys as well as show support to the estimated two million individuals affected by autism and their families.

The Zurich Classic has designated Saturday, April 26, as the tournament’s Autism Awareness Day or ‘Blue Out Day’. PGA TOUR Professionals, caddies, spectators and media will all be asked to wear blue on Saturday and join World of Golf Hall of Famer and four-time Major Champion, Ernie Els in showing support for those affected by autism spectrum disorder.

Blue and white autism awareness ribbon pins will be available to players and caddies at the 1st tee on Saturday. Pins will also be available to members of the media via the tournament’s Media Center from Thursday and the first 250 fans though the gates on Saturday will also receive their own autism awareness pin. In 2013 the winner of the Zurich Classic, Billy Horschel, was wearing the blue and white autism awareness ribbon when he raised the trophy on the Sunday!

As part of the partnership, Els for Autism, the Zurich Classic and The First Tee will be hosting a #GameON Autism Golf Clinic for children on the spectrum from two local schools; St Michael Special School and the Chartwell Center. The clinic will be held at the Zurich Golf Academy at TPC Louisiana at 3.30pm on Tuesday April 22. Els for Autism ambassador, Ernie Els, is hoping to be in attendance at this clinic. Made possible through a partnership with The PGA of America Foundation, The First Tee, The Honda Classic, Adams Golf and Southwest Airlines, these clinics are especially tailored for individuals on the spectrum and use golf as a medium to develop life skills, encourage social interaction and promote healthy living.

Spectators can also keep a look out for Ernie’s custom blue April autism awareness kit. Els’ signature lion headcover has been turned blue for the month of April, Ernie’s sponsor I-ONICS has produced a special blue charity wrist-band and long-term sponsor SAP will be giving up their spot on the front of Ernie’s hat to Els for Autism this Saturday. The SAP logo will be temporarily replaced by the Els for Autism Awareness Puzzle Piece Ribbon; embroidered onto the front of the hat. Els for Autism will be giving away some of Ernie’s blue kit via its Twitter page – @ElsForAutism.  In the meantime, fans can find out how to secure their own Els for Autism blue and white puzzle autism awareness ribbon pin, the I-ONICS charity wristband, as well as a very limited supply of the custom blue lion headcovers, by visiting:

“A huge thank you to our friends at the Zurich Classic for getting on board again this year and helping us to promote autism awareness and show support to the millions of individuals affected. Not only will we be turning golf blue on Saturday but we have teamed up with the Zurich Golf Academy to host a #GameON Autism Golf Clinic for local kids on the spectrum on Tuesday before the tournament starts.” Said Els for Autism Founder, Ernie Els.

He added: “As many of you will know the prevalence stats have very recently gone from 1 in 88 children affected in the U.S. to 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. With this kind of figure in play autism cannot be ignored – everyone needs to sit up and take notice. One of the key things we are doing this month, with the help of Zurich, RBC, the Heritage Foundation, Boeing, SAP, Breitling, Adams and my other sponsors, is using golf as a platform to promote not only awareness but the importance of early detection. The earlier we can diagnose our kids and secure the help that they need, the better chance they have of leading productive and rewarding lives. So please join with us this week to show support and help spread awareness.”

“Zurich is proud to continue our support of the Blue Out and Autism Awareness Month,” said Randall Clouser, Head of Marketing, Distribution and Regional Management for Zurich North America. “Both Zurich and Ernie are passionate about golf. This is a unique opportunity to use the game we love to help children on the autism spectrum build self-esteem and confidence.”

Throughout the month of April, Els for Autism will raise awareness and educate fans and supporters via its social media outlets by sharing educational facts about autism, promoting how the PGA TOUR and our sponsors are turning golf blue, and conducting special giveaways.

Follow the conversation:

TWITTER: @ElsforAutism @TheBig_Easy @ZurichNANews #ZurichBlueOut #RBCELS #GoBlue



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  • FOLLOW THE CONVERSATION – @ElsforAutism @TheBig_Easy  @ZurichNANews #ZurichBlueOut #RBCELS #GoBlue
  • GET PREPARED & KNOW THE FACTS – Els is hoping that viewers and spectators will learn the facts about the early warning signs of autism.

o   Recent studies show that most children are diagnosed after age 4, despite the fact that ASD can be diagnosed much earlier.

o   Symptoms can often be detected by 18 months of age or earlier. When parents first suspect that early signs of autism may be present, they should discuss these concerns with their pediatrician and ask for an autism screening.

o   Research indicates that early identification and intensive early intervention can result in significant positive outcomes for many children with ASD.

o   To learn more go to

  • SPECTATORS – Can show their support by wearing blue to the tournament on Saturday, April 26.
  • VIEWERS/FANS – Can show their support by securing and wearing an autism awareness pin, as worn by Ernie and his fellow PGA TOUR players by making a $10 donation. There are also a couple of other items that fans can get their hands on including an Els for Autism blue charity wristband and a very limited number of custom-made BLUE lion headcovers. For more details visit:
  • AMATEUR GOLFERS – Can get involved by signing up a team in the 2014 Els for Autism Golf Challenge. Host courses include Harbour Town Golf Links, SC; Floridian National Golf Club, FL; Pinehurst Resort, NC; TPC Boston, MA; and Baltusrol Golf Club, NJ.  Finalists will join Ernie Els at the Series Finale in Las Vegas in October this year. For the full event schedule visit


  • The Foundation was established in 2009 by Liezl and Ernie Els shortly after their son, Ben (11), was diagnosed with autism.
  • Els for Autism is committed to helping people on the autism spectrum fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives.
  • The Foundation is in the middle of a catalytic project; the establishment of a state-of-the-art Center of Excellence with a local, national and global reach.
  • Groundbreaking for the Center of Excellence took place on March 10, 2014 in Jupiter, Florida.
  • Once completed The Els Center of Excellence will provide a uniquely designed on-site educational program for 300 children on the autism spectrum ages 3-21. It will also bring together the critical components of early intervention, transition to adulthood, medical and professional services, and adult services all on one campus. At its heart will be a multi-faceted global outreach program that will make best practices in education and therapy available to children, families and autism experts both in the U.S. and internationally.
  • The Groundbreaking for the Center marked the start of construction of the Lower School and Center of Excellence Auditorium building that will be at the heart of the global outreach programs. The goal is to have these in operation by August 2015. In the meantime, the capital campaign continues to ensure a continuous build schedule for the Upper School, the sports facilities, the medical and professional component and the adult services program.
  • Els for Autism is a US 501(c)(3) public charity (EIN #26-3520396).
  • Foundation website:
  • Twitter: @ElsforAutism
  • Facebook: /ErnieEls


  • In 2008, The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day (A/RES/62/139) to highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder so they can lead full and meaningful lives.
  • This year’s Autism Awareness month follows the recent release of new prevalence statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that estimates 1 in 68 children in the U.S. and 1 in 42 boys has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a 30% increase from 1 in 88 children two years ago.


  • PGA TOUR Players and caddies were also asked to wear a blue and white autism awareness ribbon pin at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing PGA TOUR event on Saturday April 18
  • Swiss watchmaker Breitling, Els’ official watch sponsor, will be donating 20% of proceeds from the sale of any timepiece with a blue dial at their U.S. Boutiques for the entire month of April to the Els for Autism Foundation.
  • Els for Autism is raising awareness and educating fans and supporters throughout the month of April via its social media outlets by sharing educational facts about autism, promoting how the PGA TOUR and sponsors are turning golf blue, and conducting special giveaways.
  • Els for Autism and its ambassador Ernie Els is taking part in the #rbcgolf4kids charity competition. Fans can post Els’ unique hashtag #RBCELS on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to help him win a share of $300,000 for Els for Autism

#GameON Autism Golf Program

  • #GameOn Autism Golf is a new, innovative program developed by Els for Autism in collaboration with The PGA of America Foundation and The First Tee for children and young adults on the spectrum ages 6-23.
  • The program, aimed at developing life skills, encouraging social interaction and promoting healthy living through golf, was first piloted in 2013 in over 20 cities across the U.S. alongside the Els for Autism Golf Challenge series.
  • The clinics include 30-40 minutes of golf, 15 minutes of bodily/kinesthetic activity and healthy refreshments for the participants.
  • Through the development of partnerships with autism organizations, PGA Teaching Professionals, golf courses and sponsors like The Honda Classic and Southwest Airlines, Els for Autism’s goal is to use the  #GameON Autism Golf Program to give young people on the spectrum access to a golf program that builds self-esteem and confidence in a fun, welcoming and supportive environment.


The following photography can be downloaded for editorial use:


  • To donate by check: make out checks to Els for Autism and address to: Els for Autism, 3900 Military Trail, Suite 200, Jupiter, FL 33458
  • To donate online visit: