The First Tee of Aiken teams up with Els for Autism Foundation
Aiken Standard - 4/3/2017
April 03--AUGUSTA -- With the Masters gearing up and April being Autism Awareness month, The First Tee of Aiken joined forces with the Els for Autism Foundation and the Azalea House in Augusta to put on a golf clinic following the first day of events at Augusta National.
Six First Tee members with Autism got the chance to participate in the Ernie Els GameON Autism Golf Clinic.
"We're lucky to be partners with The First Tee of Aiken to be able to host an event here at the Azalea House with their participants with Autism," said Kerri Morse, the Adult Services Coordinator for the Els for Autism Foundation. "We were able to show the community here what great programming we can do."
The Els for Autism Foundation was established in 2009 by Ernie Els and his wife Liezl after their son Ben was diagnosed with autism. The goal of the foundation is to help people on the autism spectrum fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives.
The event also provided The First Tee of Aiken participants a chance to experience Augusta National on Sunday and the Drive Chip and Putt National Finals.
"Even though we are 30 miles from Augusta National as a chapter, it's an exclusive tournament. To have an opportunity to provided this experience for our young people with special needs is really life-changing for them," First Tee of Aiken Director of Programming Heidi Hoffman said. "A lot of them have never been to the Masters. This is a chance to provide opportunities to them that they wouldn't have otherwise."
The third piece of the puzzle which helped make the event a success was the Azalea House. The venue is usually a full-service, off-course hospitality site located on Azalea Drive just off of Washington Road. The proximity to Augusta National usually makes it a hot spot for attendees of the Masters. The house offers breakfast, lunch, refreshments in the evening and shuttle service to and from the course. However, on Sunday afternoon, the outside was transformed into golf central for the participants of The First Tee of Aiken's clinic.
"We're really excited. This is Autism Awareness Month, so for the Azalea House to host an Autism awareness event is really important for us," Morse said. "It just shows they want to reach out to the community. We thank them for hosting."
Morse also is hoping participants will use masters week as an opportunity to participate in the #4Miles4Autism social media campaign. There are three steps to the campaign:
--Walk, run or bike 4 miles
--Share using #4Miles4Autism and tag Els for Autism
--Donate $25 at www.e4agolf.com.
Eric Russell is the sports editor at the Aiken Standard. Contact him at 803-644-2396.
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