Check out all of the fun from this year's Huddle Up For Autism! Special thanks to CHOP and the Center for Autism Research for helping to make such a great event possible.
On Sunday, March 26, Lincoln Financial Field was transformed into a carnival-like atmosphere designed specifically with the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum in mind. The 8th annual Huddle Up for Autism, hosted by the Philadelphia Eagles and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was open to children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), along with their friends and family members. The sold-out event raised more than $50,000 for the Center for Autism Research (CAR) at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"For nearly a decade, Huddle Up for Autism has worked to educate, fundraise, and raise awareness for the autism community," said Christina Weiss Lurie, President Eagles Charitable Foundation, Eagles Social Responsibility. "We are honored to partner with and support the Center for Autism Research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in their effort to make breakthrough discoveries through cutting-edge autism research. Thanks to their contributions, along with the help of countless volunteers, guests, vendors, and sponsors, Huddle Up for Autism is able to provide a welcoming environment for families touched by autism every year."
Families were invited to explore the stadium locker rooms, perform on-field drills with Eagles players and members of the Temple Football team, kick field goals, and play a giant game of inflatable life-sized bowling on the field. Sensory stations and quiet rooms were made available to families who needed a break from the action, and child specialists from CAR were on-hand to lend assistance when needed.
"We're grateful to the Eagles for making this one-of-a-kind event possible each year," said Robert Schultz, PhD, director of the Center for Autism Research at CHOP. "For many families affected by autism, this is the only way that they can enjoy a day out at the stadium together, without the overwhelming sounds, sights, and crowds of a usual football game. It's a day that families and staff look forward to year after year, and we are honored that all fundraising and event proceeds directly support CAR research and programs."
The event also provided an opportunity for families to learn about resources and research opportunities with CAR and to speak with some of the nation's foremost autism specialists and researchers. The Eagles are committed to supporting cutting-edge autism research that will provide answers and guidance for families of children with ASD. In order to make significant progress in this area, children and adults are needed to join autism research studies, even if they do not have a form of ASD.
Autism is considered one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the country, as it affects one in 68 children. In fact, it is five times greater in boys, with a diagnosis taking place in one out of every 42 cases. The Pennsylvania Autism Census Update reports that 55,000 individuals in the state are currently receiving medical services for a form of ASD. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there may be upwards of 130,000 additional Pennsylvania residents living with autism who have gone undiagnosed and therefore, were left out of the reported total.
A growing body of research shows that the earlier a child is diagnosed with autism and begins accessing services, the better their outcome will be later in life. CAR is conducting research to discover the earliest "biomarker" or signs of autism, as well as developing novel treatments and therapies, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life for people with ASD not just in childhood, but over the course of a lifetime.
The Eagles and CHOP encourage interested volunteers to sign up for www.autismMatch.org, a directory matching families to research studies in our region. For more information on studies, resources and workshops for families at CAR, please visit www.CenterforAutismResearch.org and www.carautismroadmap.org.