Coca-Cola China, in partnership with The Player Foundation, hosted the 2013 Gary Player Invitational and the Charity Gala Evening in Shanghai on Nov. 4.

Established by celebrated golfer Gary Player in 1993, the foundation has since raised more than $25 million for impoverished children globally. The auction and charity golf event raises funds to provide living allowances, medical assistance and psychological counseling to families and children affected by AIDS in Yunnan, Xinjiang, Hubei and Anhui. The invitational event features a diverse group of sponsors, including top Chinese business leaders and heads of multinational enterprises, who come together each year in support of the organizations’ shared humanitarian goals.

“This effort is part of our long-term sustainability commitment in China,” said David G. Brooks, chairman, Coca-Cola Greater China and Korea. “We cannot develop our business without the healthy and sustainable development of our local communities. We will keep doing what we can for underprivileged kids affected by AIDS, because we care. Seeing smiles on their faces is the best gift we can imagine.”

The joint initiative has supported more than 14,000 AIDS orphans; provided subsidized medical care to 710 AIDS-affected women; offered college bursaries to 93 AIDS orphans; and helped build houses for 56 AIDS affected families, to date. In addition to the funds raised by Coca-Cola China’s employee charity bazaar and a RMB 19,820 personal donation by Brooks, RMB 8 million (USD $1.3 million) was raised at the auction, bringing the combined total to approximately RMB 60 million (USD $9.8 million) in funds raised since 2006.

“We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Player Foundation this year,” said Player. “We are honored to work with Coca-Cola China, local organizations and philanthropists. Together, we have the power to change the future of these families.”

Tianlang and Player

Guan Tianlang and Gary Player

Player, who had just celebrated his 78th birthday a few days earlier, expressed his admiration for 15-year-old Chinese golfing star Guan Tianlang.

“Not only does he have exquisite skills, Tianlang also shoulders the responsibility of helping others.”

An opportunity to play golf with Tianlang raised a final bid of RMB 405,000 (USD $66,440) at the auction. “This is a worthy cause, and I’m thrilled to meet my idol Gary here,” the young golfer said. “But more importantly, I have a chance to do something for underprivileged children my own age.”

In attendance at the gala were Li Chaolin, president, Chinese Foundation for the Prevention of STD and AIDS, singers JJ Lin, Jane Zhang and Ding Dang, Chinese Idol winner Li Xiangxiang and several Miss Universe winners.

“Thanks to the efforts of Coca-Cola China and our many generous donors, the Gary Player Invitational has set off a philanthropic butterfly effect – more and more people are becoming aware of the needs of this particular disadvantaged group, offering their support and demonstrating their acceptance,” said Chaolin. “We will keep working on improving the lives of AIDS affected children and their families by leveraging various social resources to help this cause.”