The Eagles joined forces with the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation dedicated the Children's Crisis Treatment Center in Center City Philadelphia as the Philadelphia Eagles Courage House, becoming the 21st NFL team to have its very own Courage House.
And in the many years of being part of the Eagles, of assisting in community events, of watching the many games and highs and lows and the impact the team has on the community, Friday's event was as meaningful as any.
"That trophy right there," said head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder, pointing to the Ed Block Courage Award, which every locker room votes for annually, "is second only to the Lombardi Trophy in terms of its prestige in the National Football League. So to be here, along with the Ed Block Courage Foundation, to open this house for the Philadelphia Eagles, is truly a special moment for me."
Burkholder, along with recent Ed Block Courage Award recipients Jon Dorenbos, Michael Vick and Jason Avant, and team Chief Operating Officer Don Smolenski, represented the Eagles for the extraordinary event at 1823 Callowhill Street on Friday. It was a cozy event in a temporary tent adjacent to the Children's Crisis Treatment Center also attended by volunteers, staff members and those who care deeply about CcTC.
Children's Crisis Treatment Center is a private non-profit agency dedicated to assisting children and their families coping with the impact of behavioral health issues, traumatic events and other challenges that have an effect on childhood development.
CcTC passionately serves the emotional needs of children and families at risk beginning with early childhood. We meet children where they are and help them to reach their full potential regardless of their challenges. We strive to provide a safe and welcoming environment in which every child feels safe and is given an opportunity to thrive.
"Kids come here who have seen things and had experiences that are at times unimaginable," said Jim Hennessy, the Chairperson of CcTC. "These are children who are looking for friends, who are looking for a safe haven, and we are here to help."
So are the Eagles, who took the lead from Burkholder and Eric Sugarman, formerly a member of Burkholder's staff here and now the head athletic trainer of the Minnesota Vikings. Burkholder came to the Eagles after working with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he witnessed the Steelers' opening of the first of the league's Courage Houses, at Holy Family Institute.
Burkholder literally had tears in his eyes on Friday as he spoke at the podium. He clearly has so much pride to be part of the Eagles' mission in the community.
"It means so much to me and, I know, to the Ed Block Courage Foundation. To be here today is very, very special," said Burkholder.
The Ed Block Courage Foundation donated $10,000 to CcTC, and the Eagles provided a matching grant. A strong program already in place has an opportunity to gain some momentum and keep it that way.
"You do these kinds of things and you see how much of an impact you can really have in the community, for the kids," said Vick. "The work they do here is remarkable. They help kids during their toughest times and they can help turn a young person's life around forever. That's something, I think, that everyone wants to be a part of. It's genuine. It comes from the heart."
That's what the day was all about. For a couple of hours Eagles players and members of the front office paused in their preparation for Sunday night's game against Dallas to reach out and make a difference. We see it all the time with this organization, and I hope and pray that the fans understand the platform from which the Eagles are operating. Everybody wants to win the Super Bowl. That is the desperate, passionate objective.
But the Eagles, under Jeffrey and Christina Lurie, make it a daily commitment through Eagles Youth Partnership and programs like the one on Friday to build a better world. That's called using your power for the good of the community, and not many can say they do that on a daily basis.
"Every kid goes through tough times, and these kids are enduring unbelievable circumstances," said Dorenbos, who overcome a childhood with many serious obstacles to reach the top of his profession. "It's an honor for me to be here, to make this kind of a difference. That's really what having this forum is all about -- making things better for others around us. I'm proud to be a part of this event and this organization."