Children are shaped by their environments, upbringings, and the people who surround them. How they are influenced, impacted, and guided oftentimes plays a significant role in their futures.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nationwide non-profit organization that emphasizes mentorship. The Philadelphia chapter officially partnered with the Eagles and Lincoln Financial Group in an effort to recruit 100 mentors, "bigs," over the course of the 2022 football season.
To celebrate the partnership, Lincoln Financial Field was the spot to welcome kids to a carnival-style evening with Eagles players.
"We believe in the friendship model," said Marcus Allen, CEO of BBBS. "Kids just need someone they can talk to, kids need someone who will walk shoulder-to-shoulder with them, and partner with them as they're navigating through the challenges and complexities growing up."
Eagles Cheerleader Victoria faced a devastating challenge when she was 8 years old. Her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Upon her diagnosis, Victoria was signed up for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
"I had an amazing big sister," Victoria said. "Her name was Stephanie. She took me everywhere. We always went on fun adventures. I just remember that being a very stable memory as a child. It really helped me feel in-touch at a time where I didn't quite understand."
As an adult, Victoria decided this program was one she wanted to give back to, so she signed up as a big, mentoring a young girl whose mom also had an illness.
"I really related to that child, and I felt like I kind of took her under my wing," Victoria said. "Seeing her smile made me realize that somebody made me smile. To be able to do that for someone else felt amazing."
For Victoria to then join the exciting launch party at Lincoln Financial Field as an Eagles Cheerleader made the experience a full-circle moment.
"It's like combining my two loves – dancing and moving, and doing things that help me align with the community and give back in some way. I think that's what the Eagles are all about – that's the whole brand. Giving back and showing our love and appreciation for all these different things that we do."
Bigs are a vital part of this partnership and the hope is that the strength in connections will inspire more people to become involved in the cause.
There are currently 750 kids on a waitlist to be matched with a big. Allen said kids tend to wait from 12 to 18 months for their match, expressing an urgency to recruit more bigs.
"We have the people, we have the know-how, we have the research that says this works," Allen said. "So if you want to be a part of an organization or a mission that's actually going to benefit a child in a positive way, and the research shows that, then this is the organization for you to do it."
The Eagles hosted an event with Big Brothers Big Sisters on Wednesday at Lincoln Financial Field to celebrate their new partnership. Here are the best photos of Eagles players and cheerleaders spending time with Philadelphia youth.