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'I finally get to do my dream job'

EAF’s Director of Scientific Programs and Inclusion Initiatives Kiki Saraceni helps ensure the success of the neurodiverse gameday staff members.

A gameday at Lincoln Financial field is special.

From green fireworks before kickoff to the harmonious "Fly Eagles Fly" that fills the stadium after a touchdown for the home team, there is nothing quite like a game in South Philadelphia.

Among the chaos and excitement that is an Eagles game, there are diligent workers ensuring each fan has a top-tier experience.

But who are they?

The talented crew is a vast one, and it includes a growing number of neurodiverse workers.

The opportunity to take part in facilitating an Eagles game allows workers to grow in a job that encourages the development of new skills in a supportive and exciting environment.

Adam Sklar is one of 15 and counting neurodiverse Gameday Staff members. At the open practices ahead of the 2021 season, he noticed a table with Eagles Autism Foundation merchandise that piqued his interest.

"I saw the table and called my mom to purchase something, and I told Kiki (EAF's Director of Scientific Programs and Inclusion Initiatives Kirsten Saraceni) I wanted to purchase something to support autism because I have autism," he said. "I started talking to Kiki and she asked me if I wanted to be on the mailing list and that is how it started."

Sklar began working with EAF in early June, 2022. Since then, he's learned to work several different roles throughout the stadium.

His gameday begins hours before kickoff when he arrives at Lincoln Financial Field and checks in to confirm his assignment. Each neurodiverse gameday staff is equipped with resources that promote success – an individualized schedule sent prior to the event to help prepare including report time, assigned role, supervisor, helpful facts for that event, extra maps, etc. Additionally, there is assistance with check in, check out, and breaks available, as well as communication with EAF staff to answer any questions with supervisors, and other staff.

"Because I am a part of the Eagles Autism Foundation and get support, I get a heads up about my post ahead of time. I go to my team meeting, then to my post, and sometimes I get to train other rookies," Sklar said.

His roles vary between ticket-taker, usher, or guest services representatives – each presenting different responsibilities and challenges. No matter the role, Sklar is thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the team.

"My life has been positively impacted by working for the Philadelphia Eagles because I finally get to do my dream job, and work for my favorite football team," Sklar said.

"My favorite memory of the job is working my first Army vs. Navy game and seeing everything for the first time like the flyovers, and the cadets marching in unison."

Like many Eagles fans across the world, the NFC Championship Game was a highlight of this past season, as Sklar had the opportunity to watch the action unfold on the field while carrying out his work responsibilities.

"As well as when the Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, and Terry Bradshaw told Jalen Hurts, 'If this is the best fan base of the NFL, then the best thing you should do is sing 'Fly Eagles Fly!'' Then, Jalen Hurts got the whole stadium to erupt, and sing 'Fly Eagles Fly!'"

Still thinking about signing up for the Eagles Autism Challenge on May 20th? Save 50% off the registration fee by using the code: SPRING23

The Eagles Autism Foundation celebrates the neurodiverse members of the gameday staff at a year-end celebration.
The Eagles Autism Foundation celebrates the neurodiverse members of the gameday staff at a year-end celebration.

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