Rory McIlroy will officially open his 2013 playing season next week in Abu Dhabi -- after a little matter of announcing he’s officially joined Tiger Woods at Team Nike -- but on Thursday the world No. 1 kicked off his own charity aimed at helping children.
"When I was younger my parents sacrificed everything to allow me to play the game I love," McIlroy says on his Rory Foundation website. "Having that support from my family gave me the opportunity to chase my dreams. But I know that every child is not so fortunate. My aim is that The Rory Foundation will support children’s charities big and small around the world that try to give kids that helping hand."
McIlroy named his philanthropy’s first project "6 Bags," since in his first six events of the season he’ll feature the name of a different children’s charity on his golf bag. Fans may bid on the bags at auction, with all proceeds going directly to the chosen organization.
Altruism is nothing new for McIlroy, who delayed his preparation for the 2011 U.S. Open to travel to Haiti with UNICEF for a close-up examination of the organization’s relief work after the massive 2010 earthquake.
"It’s going to be a huge eye-opener for me," he said at the time. "Nothing like getting a little perspective in your life, huh? I don’t want to say I’m looking forward to it, because that’s not the right way to put it. But it’s something I’ve wanted to do, and it’s going to be an eye-opener, for sure."
McIlroy also said then that he wanted to do more than just "put my name to" helping children.
"I wanted to do something, and they were very keen for me to go and see somewhere where they're sort of hands-on," said McIlroy, who went on to capture his first major by a record-breaking eight strokes. "It...just fit in quite well that I could go to Haiti for a couple of days and see what they do."
While McIlroy's aim is to benefit a charity active in the community of the tournament’s home base, the first recipient of his foundation's largesse will be the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.
Proceeds raised through McIlroy’s 6 Bags auction will go toward the fund’s new therapeutic and respite center, which will support families before, during, and after their children receive treatment.
"We are so proud and honored to be the first of six charities benefiting from The 6 Bags project," NICFC’s chief executive Gillian Creevy said in a statement. "This association with Rory will not only have a significant impact on children and young people who look up to Rory and are inspired by him, but will also help to maintain Rory’s very important links to Northern Ireland as he moves increasingly into a global circuit."