On Thursday, the Eagles presented their annual Community Quarterback Award, given to volunteers making an impact in the Philadelphia community ...
Katie Kirlin began participating in wheelchair sports when she was 10 years old as she underwent rehab for a cancerous spinal tumor that had left her paralyzed.
Two years later, Katie passed away, but her parents, Joseph and Roseann Kirlin, keep Katie's memory alive through the Katie Kirlin Fund which has raised over $2 million over the past 26 years to support wheelchair athletics. On Thursday night, the Philadelphia Eagles honored the Kirlins as well as nine other local volunteers at the 2015 Community Quarterback Awards. The Kirlins were presented with a check for $10,000, which Joseph Kirlin immediately said would be used to purchase five new wheelchairs.
"We're just so very fortunate that when Katie passed we were able to turn a tragedy into something positive," Roseann Kirlin said. "A lot of the athletes who have been through the program have gone on to wheelchair basketball scholarships. Without the program, they may not have been able to get the opportunity."
The Katie Kirlin Fund supports the Katie's Komets wheelchair basketball program by providing grants to purchase new wheelchairs, sponsor wheelchair sporting events and accommodate travel and lodging for wheelchair teams both home and abroad. Beyond the court, the children supported by the Kirlins are building life skills and independence, perhaps the most valuable lessons of all.
"One of the Komets could meet another kid at a tournament and make a lifelong friend," Joseph Kirlin said. "You could lose all your games, but to meet so many kids and families whose lives are changed because of Katie – there's no feeling like it."
The Philadelphia Eagles Community Quarterback Awards recognize outstanding volunteers in the Eagles' market and the charitable organizations that they serve. This program honors individuals who exemplify leadership, dedication and a commitment to improving the communities in which they live through volunteerism. The nine Community Quarterback Award finalists listed below were also awarded money for their organizations.
2015 Community Quarterback Awards Finalists
• Andrew Cohen – The Marjorie B. Cohen Foundation
• Loretta Winters – Gloucester County NAACP
• Terri Ives – Cradles to Crayons
• Steven Doherty – The Center for Grieving Children
• Nikki Bagby – Faith in God Family Restoration Corporation
• Lee Mullen – Habitat for Humanity, Philadelphia
• Tyler Heath – Push the Rock
• Jeff Klein – The Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund (KADMF)
• Kathleen Kelly – Gearing Up