The Eagles teamed up with Councilman Kenyatta Johnson to launch a new initiative for local youth football.
The Eagles kick off the 2018 regular season on September 6 at Lincoln Financial Field against the Falcons. Two days later, the Wolves Youth Athletic Association will open its season just a short drive away on 84th and Lindbergh Blvd. in Southwest Philadelphia.
It was, however, this close to not happening.
Thieves stole $10,000 worth of uniforms and equipment on August 18. City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson reached out to Eagles president Don Smolenski and out of those discussions they decided to generate awareness for the Wolves Equipment Replacement Fund. Smolenski and Johnson presented checks on Tuesday to WYAA president Tom Jones at the NovaCare Complex. The pep rally was also attended by wide receiver Nelson Agholor, Eagles Cheerleaders, and the children and parents of the WYAA.
"The councilman has always promoted the relationship between the community and the team," Smolenski said. "I think the contribution from both organizations today, the City and the Eagles, that was a big step because we also want the community to have a vested interest in this, to do the right thing, and support these kids and get them all of the equipment they need so that they can play the game of football, have fun, and learn a valuable lesson about how to turn lemons into lemonade."
Jones said that the donations from the Eagles and the City would allow the season to start, but the community will need to help keep the program going. In addition to football equipment and uniforms, the items that were used to run the concession stands - grills, tables, and coolers - were also stolen in the heist. Supporters can donate by visiting here.
"We do need other things to keep our season afloat because we have to pay referee fees, league dues, our insurance, but right now we are able to start the season because we've got equipment and uniforms," Jones said of the organization which boasts 100 young children. "That was the biggest thing.
"One of the big things I tell the children is about family. We're not raising you to be a boy. We're raising you to be a man so where family comes community. If we can develop young minds to become men, to become husbands first, and then a father, and be in the community, I think we can change the atmosphere of the whole city. I think that's what we're going to do. That's our aspiration. We use football as our vehicle, but our main goal is to make sure we're building a community."
When Agholor walked into the auditorium of the NovaCare Complex, the kids recognized the dynamic playmaker immediately and started chanting his name. Agholor wanted to be a part of the event because he understands the integral role that organizations such as the WYAA have in impacting the neighborhood.
"These coaches, these parents, and so many people sacrifice so much so these young kids have the opportunity to play the game and for Don and the Eagles to do what they did to put them in position to get their equipment and keep playing the game is so important. I'm just so happy I had the opportunity to be here and see the smiles on their faces," Agholor said.
"We talk about it taking a village in so many things, but it takes the right village. This is exactly what it is. This is the right village - the right coaches, the right parents that are so selfless and who care about these kids and they care about their education and they want to pour into them so they become the best people they can be."
Criminals tried to derail the Wolves' season, but the children will be able to suit up and play. It will now take the village to keep the program going. Click here to learn more and support the Wolves Equipment Replacement Fund.