The 2021 Eagles Autism Challenge has been set for May 22. The fundraiser is expected to be an in-person event but is subject to change based on Philadelphia’s COVID-19 guidelines.
“The Eagles Autism Challenge has become much more than a one-day event for us,” Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. “Year-round fundraising and advocacy efforts, scientific support backed by some of the world’s foremost leaders in the field, and a united front to turn autism awareness into action all play a pivotal role in our mission to assist those currently affected by autism.”
The Autism Challenge is a one-day event that features a 5K run and walk that will start and end at Lincoln Financial Field. There are cycling routes of 10, 30 and 50 miles through the city of Philadelphia, and there’s also a shorter sensory route around the field. A virtual component was also added for participants unable to be there in person.
The 2020 Eagles Autism Challenge was originally scheduled for May 16 but was moved to Sept. 26 because of the pandemic. The event went on virtually, and more than $3.1 million was raised, which was on par with what the Eagles Autism Foundation earned in the previous two years.
New ideas were gained from the virtual component, and the hope is to add those ideas to next year’s in-person event. Details will be discussed closer to the date.
“We’ll still be offering a virtual component for those that may not feel comfortable or from what we’ve seen from around the globe with our furthest participants being in the Netherlands and Australia,” Ryan Hammond, executive director of the Eagles Autism Foundation said. “This whole situation taught us how to do it more effectively, and also reinforced that we need to be doing this.”
The foundation is offering fans the chance to purchase cutouts for football games to raise money for the Eagles Autism Challenge. From this project alone, the foundation has raised nearly $500,000.
“If you purchase four or more cutouts, you’ll get a discount to have your family all sit together at the stadium, and every cutout purchased comes with a code that will waive your registration for the Eagles Autism Challenge in 2021.”
The money donated in 2020 will be divided between autism research programs and community-based programs, like grants and awards. Some awards will be set by Dec. 15.
“There are certainly a lot of grant applications related to technology and being able to deliver virtual services,” Hammond said. “That’s the times that we’re in, and that’s the whole reason we have that commitment to community grants.”