New York, NY, July 7, 2005 --- The American Century Championship, the prominent, 16-year-old, nationally televised celebrity golf tournament from Lake Tahoe, has designated New York City-based Autism Speaks as the charity beneficiary of this year's tournament, organizers announced today.
Dan Marino, founder of the Dan Marino Foundation to benefit autism, will serve as the primary spokesperson for the campaign, which will involve scores of celebrity golfers, tournament title sponsor American Century Investments, NBC Sports and the Lake Tahoe community. Marino, the former superstar quarterback who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame August 7, is playing in the July 15-17 golf tournament along with a field that includes Michael Jordan, Donald Trump, Charles Barkley, Don Cheadle, John Elway, Dennis Haysbert and Emmitt Smith, among 80 sports and entertainment stars.
In addition to fundraising, the tournament will use commercial time within its five hours of broadcast coverage on NBC and the Golf Channel to elevate awareness of autism and educate parents about the importance of early intervention. American Century will also make a financial contribution and devote its commercial time to Autism Speaks public service announcements.
“One in 166 children will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder," said Alison Singer, Autism Speaks Senior Vice President and the mother of a child with autism. "Twenty years ago that number was one in 10,000. Every 20 minutes another set of parents receives the life-shattering news that their child has autism. We are grateful to American Century Investments for the opportunity to help increase awareness of this epidemic and to spread the message that early intervention is our best weapon.”
The tournament will raise funds through a variety of resources. A portion of the $500,000 purse won by players who retain their amateur status will be donated to the cause. Contributions from celebrity players, sponsors and VIP guests attending the tournament and the public will also be encouraged. Live and silent auction items donated by NBC and the celebrities is expected to raise additional monies, which Autism Speaks will disburse in part to the Dan Marino Foundation and other autismrelated charities.
“We've successfully harnessed the collective power of the celebrity players and the Lake Tahoe casino community so that charities like Autism Speaks can use the tournament as a platform for fundraising and publicity,” offered Jon Miller, Senior Vice President of NBC Sports. “It's become a tournament tradition and everyone pitches in so that we can make a difference.”
Since its inception in 1990, the tournament has raised over $2 million for various charities including the Uniformed Firefighters Association Scholarship Fund to provide college tuition assistance to the children of New York City firefighters lost on September 11, 2001, and Mark Cuban's Fallen Patriot Fund to aid the families of soldiers killed or injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
NBC Sports will telecast the American Century Championship live from Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course with second round coverage on Saturday, July 16, from 4-6 p.m. ET and final round coverage on Sunday, July 17, from 3-6 p.m. ET. The Friday, July 15 opening round will be telecast live by The Golf Channel from 3-5 p.m. ET.
For further information, contact...
610-363-0966 (East Coast)
Weidinger Public Relations
775-588-2412 (West Coast)