Subscribe to RSS feed for News South African Ernie Els will donate his time and expertise during PGA Championship week to take a swing at ALS. (Photo: Getty Images)
South African Ernie Els will donate his time and expertise during PGA Championship week to take a swing at ALS. (Photo: Getty Images)

Els steps up to plate for friend, takes a swing at ALS

Inspired by "mate" -- Ralph Russo, director of marketing for the 2006 PGA Championship and ALS patient -- Ernie Els donates time and expertise for the Les Turner ALS Foundation's fundraising event at Medinah Banquets on August 15.

CHICAGO -- Ernie Els, like all of those in the professional world of golf, have become familiar with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Bruce Edwards, Tom Watson's longtime caddy, lost his battle with ALS shortly before Watson teed off for the first round of the Masters in 2004 and PGA golfer Jeff Julian battled the disease for nearly three years before passing away in July 2004. Inspired by his friend Ralph Russo -- avid golfer, director of marketing for the 2006 PGA Championship and ALS patient -- Els has donated his time to speak at a fundraising breakfast on August 15 at Medinah Banquets in Addison. The event will benefit the Les Turner ALS Foundation.

ALS has progressively diminished Ralph's physical abilities, leaving him unable to walk a golf course or even stand long enough to tee off. However, Ralph's diagnosis has not stopped him from participating in golf, the sport he wholeheartedly loves. He has simply found other ways to enjoy the game. Through his volunteer work with the tournament and his membership at Medinah Country Club, Ralph remains active in the golfing community, fueling his spirit and his determination to live each day to the fullest.

"I'm greatly appreciative of Ernie's support, especially during a major tournament, and I feel his willingness to help this cause is a true testament to his character," said Russo. "When I heard that Ernie confirmed his participation in the breakfast event, I wasn't completely surprised. He's a generous and caring person, and continually proves himself to be a winner on and off the course."

Els, who recently placed third in the British Open, will discuss his personal experience as a professional golfer and conduct a Q&A with audience members. Each attendee will receive a ticket to Tuesday's practice round at the Championship and complimentary roundtrip transportation will be provided between Medinah Banquets and Medinah Country Club. Tickets to the Breakfast with Ernie Els are $100 per person or $900 per table of 10, and can be ordered by contacting the Les Turner ALS Foundation at 847-679-3311.

"We are truly excited about working with Ernie Els and feel his involvement in this event brings the Les Turner ALS Foundation opportunities to raise significant funds and increase public awareness of ALS," noted Wendy Abrams, executive director of the Les Turner ALS Foundation.

ALS is a terminal, progressive neuromuscular disorder that causes impaired speaking, swallowing, breathing, muscle wasting and eventually, total paralysis and death. As the body deteriorates, the mind usually remains clear and unaffected. Currently, the causes of ALS are only partially understood and there is no cure.

The Les Turner ALS Foundation is one of the nation's preeminent organizations dedicated to raising funds for the treatment and elimination of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The Foundation is affiliated with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine where it supports both clinical care and scientific research. The Foundation's comprehensive patient services include support group meetings, professional in-home consultation services, communications and durable medical equipment programs; respite care grants and many educational programs.

For more information about the Les Turner ALS Foundation or to order tickets to the Breakfast with Ernie Els, call the Foundation office at 847-679-3311 or visit

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