The Philadelphia Eagles have announced that the 2021 Eagles Autism Challenge presented by Lincoln Financial Group will take place on Saturday, May 22, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field. One hundred percent of participant-raised funds from the team's signature cycling and 5K run/walk event will continue to benefit institutions conducting cutting-edge autism research and care.
Participants can now register for the 2021 Eagles Autism Challenge at EaglesAutismChallenge.org.
While the 2021 Eagles Autism Challenge is currently scheduled as an in-person event, it is subject to move to an all-virtual format or be rescheduled based on guidance regarding social gatherings and the health and safety of the community.
Led by Philadelphia Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, players, coaches, team legends, Eagles fans, and autism supporters, the 2020 Eagles Autism Challenge – held virtually on Saturday, Sept. 26 – raised more than $3.1 million, bringing the three-year total to more than $9.2 million. The all-virtual format was supported by 2,851 participants and a remarkable 12,285 donors worldwide.
"The Eagles Autism Challenge has become much more than a one-day event for us," said Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles Chairman & CEO. "Year-round fundraising and advocacy efforts, scientific support backed by some of the world's foremost leaders in the field, and a united front to turn autism awareness into action all play a pivotal role in our mission to assist those currently affected by autism. We are incredibly grateful for the support we have received through the first three years of the Eagles Autism Challenge and hope to expand on that as we look to advance autism research in Philadelphia and beyond."
The Eagles Autism Challenge is a one-day bike ride and family-friendly 5K Run/Walk that begins and ends at Lincoln Financial Field. The event features three cycling routes – the Wawa Junior 10-Mile Ride, Wawa Shorti 30-Mile Ride, and the Wawa Classic 50-Mile Ride – that offer participants a chance to navigate through the City of Philadelphia and its suburbs. The 5K Run/Walk has been mapped and certified by US Track & Field and takes participants on a scenic journey around the neighborhood. For families and participants with sensory challenges, the Sensory Walk provides a shorter course around the outside perimeter of Lincoln Financial Field. And for those who want to fundraise but are unable to ride, run or walk on event day, there is a virtual participant option.
All five routes end at Lincoln Financial Field with participants crossing the finish line at the 50-yard line. Participants are welcomed back to an on-field celebration, family-friendly field activities, and an awards ceremony featuring special guests. Participants are also invited to attend the Friday Night Kickoff Party at Lincoln Financial Field on May 21, 2021 to commence the celebratory weekend. Additionally, participants will receive a cycling jersey or 5K T-shirt, finish line medal and a complimentary gift bag. Exclusive experience prizes and autographed memorabilia will be offered to participants who reach certain fundraising milestones during the year.
All returning and new participants who sign up as a cyclist or runner/walker by Thursday, Dec. 31 will have 50% of their registration fee waived as part of the special "Early Bird" promotion. Registrants can use the promo code "Earlybird20" when signing up.
The Eagles Autism Challenge, which started with Lurie's vision to bring people together to support the autism community, sets out to fund innovative research, drive scientific breakthroughs and provide critical resources, all in an effort to create a major shift from awareness to action.
"We are beyond inspired by the way the Eagles community continues to step up and take action for autism," said Ryan Hammond, Executive Director of the Eagles Autism Foundation. "We have made tremendous strides over the past three years of the Eagles Autism Challenge and look to carry that momentum into 2021. This past year has shown us that when we come together as one, our resiliency and persistence to help those in need will always shine through. We are humbled by that support and look forward to another transformational year as we continue to assist individuals and their families affected by autism."
Through fundraising efforts associated with the Eagles Autism Challenge, a total of 25 research projects and community grants have been funded for exploratory work in the field of autism since 2018. The funding process for the $3.1 million raised in 2020 is currently underway and will award grants to approved institutions in the coming months.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 54 people living in the United States are on the autism spectrum. Autism is a complex neurological and developmental condition that expresses itself differently in each individual. The spectrum can range from having challenges in the areas of social skills and nonverbal communication to repetitive interests and behaviors. While it has become one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the country, it has historically been underfunded, misunderstood, and under-researched.
Additional event information for new and existing Eagles Autism Challenge participants can be found by visiting EaglesAutismChallenge.org.