Paul Casey has announced that for every birdie he hits in tournament play between now and December 2018, he will give $100 to UNICEF to fight famine and food crisis. The relationship between Casey and UNICEF developed as part of a wide-ranging partnership between UNICEF and WME|IMG, of which Casey is a client. All funds will be donated to UNICEF USA in support of UNICEF’s lifesaving work, focusing on alleviating food insecurity and treating children with severe acute malnutrition.
Casey will be carrying a UNICEF-branded golf bag and will autograph and raffle off his current bag. Anyone whose pledges amount to $50 or more will be entered to win. He is encouraging others to join him and support his pledge.
Here, Paul Casey writes about what inspired him to give back.
Two and a half years ago, my wife Pollyanna and I became parents. We’re very, very lucky to have a little 2 ½-year-old boy called Lex. He's everything to us. And to add to that luck, we're expecting another one later this year. Lex has no idea what a game changer that's going to be!
Having children was a game-changer for me, too. The joys of parenthood are completely eye-opening. I have always felt blessed to be without terrible hardship and have thought for years about how I might help others less fortunate. But I struggled to find the right focus — until I became a father.
Thinking about my son: why I chose UNICEF
My son is the life and soul of everything I do. Children are now what I notice day-to-day. On the golf course, I smile to the kids, because I want to make sure they have the greatest experience they possibly can. And even on the golf course, I think, if my son was here right now, how would I behave? How can I make the world a better place for him, and how can I help other children, too? I chose to align with UNICEF because to me, UNICEF is the pinnacle of putting children’s needs first — across the world.
I believe that a global focus is important. After all, I’ve been a professional for 17 years, playing all over the world. A global player has a reach far greater than just the U.S. or Europe. That has put me in a powerful position to do something with what I've accomplished on the golf course — to have a global impact.
Children should not die of starvation in 2018
To me, food is a basic right. Food is a staple that nobody should go without. Nobody should die of starvation in 2018. I know that 2.5 million children are facing imminent death, and that's just unacceptable. I read that statistic and then I look at my little boy, who's asking for another snack or another juice. There are things that we need to work on closer to home, and we can do that, too — but to be able to focus on a global catastrophe that's right on the brink of getting so much worse is important. We’re talking about a humanitarian crisis.
And it's something that can be fixed. We can intervene and provide the nutrition that's needed. I feel that UNICEF has the clout to get in there and help. There is a solution to this problem, and I want to be part of it.
Golf is such a powerful vehicle for generating not only dollars but exposure to causes. Golf has a reputation as being a sport that gives a lot back — the PGA Tour especially. The PGA Tour each year gives more to charity than the MLB, NBA, and NFL does combined. What do baseball players, or basketball or football or hockey players, do when they want to raise money for a cause? They organize a golf event. As a platform for supporting causes, the PGA tour raised $166 million for charity in 2016 alone and has raised a total of over $2.3 billion for charity so far. It’s a powerful sport — which is ultimately what it's all about, because winning a trophy is great, trying to get your name in history books is great, but what does it all really mean? There's a lot more to what I do than just chasing a white golf ball around a bit of grass.
Hitting birdies to save kids' lives; it's win-win
There’s just something about the vulnerability of a child. We have a responsibility to give them every opportunity to thrive in life and thrive in the world, and the basic human rights, a simple thing such as nutrition. Helping is the right thing to do. And since arriving at this decision, I feel I've got to make sure I do everything I can, in how I live from now on, to honor children and UNICEF to do the right thing.
I was playing with a guy recently, and after I told him about the fundraiser I was going to start with UNICEF, I hit six birdies. He said, "Well, that's six hundred dollars you would have had to pay today!" I’m fine with that. What could be cooler than hitting a birdie and knowing that I've just raised some money for the kids who need it the most? It’s inspiring me to play well. Ultimately, if I play really well, I'm doing my part and raising lots of money — plus hopefully moving up the leaderboard. It's a win-win situation.
UPDATE (August 15, 2019):
With your help, Paul has been able to raise more than $165,000 to date in support of UNICEF USA.