The Eagles Autism Foundation has announced that the third annual Eagles Autism Challenge presented by Lincoln Financial Group – originally scheduled for Saturday, May 16, 2020 – has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 26, 2020.
With the health and safety of all participants as a top priority, several aspects of the Eagles Autism Challenge have been modified for September 26. The Wawa Junior 10-Mile Ride, Wawa Shorti 30-Mile Ride, and the Wawa Classic 50-Mile Ride, in addition to the Five Below 5K Run/Walk and Five Below Sensory Walk will feature staggered start times to spread out the number of participants throughout the morning. In addition, the finish line has been moved from the field to the perimeter of Lincoln Financial Field and a virtual post-ride celebration will replace the traditional on-field festivities.
If circumstances prevent an in-person gathering on September 26, the Eagles Autism Challenge will move to an all-virtual format.
"While the overall Eagles Autism Challenge experience that we have all grown accustomed to over the years will look a little different in September, our commitment to the autism community and dedication to funding the most innovative autism research will not change," said Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles Chairman and CEO. "Like many in our communities, families and individuals with autism have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They need our support now more than ever. As we turn to Saturday, September 26, we look forward to providing a safe environment for all participants and celebrating yet another transformational day with everyone."
In addition to the staggered start times, other safety measures will be implemented, including mandatory mask requirements for all staff members, hand sanitizer stations, and individually packaged food and beverage. Additional safety precautions will be communicated to participants prior to the event. The Eagles Autism Foundation will continue to monitor developments and will make all the necessary adjustments based on applicable guidance and requirements.
On Monday, September 28, NBC10 Philadelphia will air a 30-minute special at 7:30 PM Eastern Time recapping the third annual Eagles Autism Challenge, the weekend's celebratory festivities and remarks from Philadelphia Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie.
The team's signature fundraising event, which started with Lurie's vision to bring people together to support the autism community, has raised more than $9 million for cutting-edge autism research and programs since 2018. The Eagles Autism Challenge sets out to fund innovative research, drive scientific breakthroughs, and provide critical resources, all in an effort to create a major shift from awareness to action.
New and existing participants are encouraged to visit the Frequently Asked Questions section of www.EaglesAutismChallenge.org for more information.
Through the Eagles Autism Foundation's mission to improve lives and support the most impactful autism research and care, community grants of $5,000 to $25,000 are offered annually to registered 501(c)(3) organizations in the Philadelphia area serving a direct need in the autism community. Community grants promote local services that enhance the lives of those affected by autism, expand the capacity of organizations to effectively serve the autism community and increase the services available to individuals with autism.
Given the current economic landscape and the pressing need for individual and family services, the 2020 Community Grant application process has been moved up for qualified organizations beginning on Thursday, June 25, 2020. All applications will need to be submitted by Thursday, August 20, 2020.
"Many organizations throughout our city are seeking immediate assistance and funding right now due to challenges presented by the pandemic," said Ryan Hammond, Executive Director of the Eagles Autism Foundation. "We want to support them and amplify their efforts as best we can so that they can fully serve every member of the autism community."
Special consideration will be given to applications that specifically address the needs of underserved regions, which include non-English speaking populations and other vulnerable groups.
The Community Grant application can be accessed by visiting www.EaglesAutismFoundation.org.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 54 people under the age of 21 living in the United States are on the autism spectrum. Autism is a complex neurological and developmental condition that expresses itself differently in each individual. The spectrum can range from having challenges in the areas of social skills and nonverbal communication to repetitive interests and behaviors. While it has become one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the country, it has historically been underfunded, misunderstood, and under-researched.
Through fundraising efforts associated with the Eagles Autism Challenge, a total of 25 research projects and community grants have been funded for exploratory work in the field of autism.
Take a look at the best photos from this year's Eagles Autism Challenge!