The Philadelphia Eagles have announced that the seventh annual Eagles Autism Challenge presented by Lincoln Financial Group will take place on Saturday, May 18, 2024 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 2024 Eagles Autism Challenge at EaglesAutismChallenge.org.
Led by Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, players, coaches, team legends, Eagles fans, and autism supporters, the 2023 Eagles Autism Challenge – held on Saturday, May 20 – raised a record-setting $6.2 million thanks to 4,500 participants and 27,272 donations. Since the first year of the Eagles Autism Challenge in 2018, a total of 121,224 donations have contributed to the more than $22 million raised through the Eagles Autism Foundation.
"What started with Jeffrey Lurie's vision to bring people together in support of the autism community has turned into a year-round effort that is now raising millions of dollars for cutting-edge autism research and care programs," said Ryan Hammond, Executive Director, Eagles Autism Foundation. "We want to serve as a powerful voice for the one in 36 individuals affected by autism. The progress we've made in this space would not be possible without the support of great partners like Lincoln Financial Group, Five Below, Wawa, FreedomPay and so many others, including our generous donors, participants, and volunteers. We look forward to another transformational year of funding innovative research, driving scientific breakthroughs, and turning autism awareness into action."
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 levels of cycling registration – 30-Mile Wawa Classic, 10-Mile Wawa Shorti, and 10-Mile Youth Wawa Junior (13-18 years old) – that offer participants a chance to navigate through the City of Philadelphia and its suburbs. The FreedomPay 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 FreedomPay Sensory Walk provides a shorter course around the outside perimeter of Lincoln Financial Field. For those who want to fundraise but are unable to ride, run, or walk on event day, there is a virtual participant option.
Championed by Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, the Eagles Autism Challenge sets out to fund innovative research, drive scientific breakthroughs, and provide critical resources to create a major shift from awareness to action. One hundred percent of participant-raised funds from the team's signature charity event are invested into the autism research and care community, with more than $22 million raised in its six years.
"The Eagles Autism Challenge is an incredibly meaningful part of Lincoln's longstanding relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles organization," said John Kennedy, EVP, Chief Distribution and Brand Officer, Lincoln Financial Group. "We are proud to once again be the presenting sponsor for this event and look forward to showing our Team Lincoln support through employee participation and fundraising for the incredible work the Eagles Autism Foundation does to make an impact on the lives of so many families and individuals in the autism community."
All five routes end at Lincoln Financial Field where 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 17 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 specific fundraising milestones during the year.
"For the last six years, Five Below has been a proud supporter of the Eagles Autism Foundation," said Michael Romanko, Chief Merchandising Officer, Five Below. "We continue to be inspired by the work the Eagles have done to raise money and generate awareness that directly impacts those within the autism community, and we're proud that Five Below has played – and will continue to play – a significant role. On behalf of the Five Below Foundation, we will match up to $75,000 and we invite everyone to rally together with us to help make a truly lasting impact for the autism community."
To help participants meet and exceed their fundraising goals, the Five Below Foundation will match the first $75,000 in online donations, dollar for dollar, as part of the season's first matching gift drive. The matching gift will apply to all online donations beginning Tuesday, September 12, at 9 a.m. and will match each donation up to $1,000.
All participants who sign up by Tuesday, October 31, 2023 will have 50% of their registration fee waived as part of the special "Early Bird" promotion. Registrants can use the promo code "earlybird24" when signing up.
Through fundraising efforts associated with the Eagles Autism Foundation, 86 research projects and community grants have been funded for exploratory work in the field of autism since 2018. The funding process for the $6.2 million raised in 2023 is currently underway and will award grants to approved institutions in the coming months.