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Press Release

Los Angeles, October 2, 2020

Team D. Jackson

On Saturday, September 26, Team D. Jackson, which consists of Philadelphia Eagles’ All Pro receiver, DeSean Jacksons’ mother, Gayle Jackson, his sister, A’Dreea Jackson Clay, and her sons, participated in the Eagles’ 2020 Autism Challenge to raise Autism awareness and crucial funds for research.  Due to Covid-19, this year’s event was virtual with ‘virtual teams’; and, all events were held at remote sites in 14 countries, with 3,000 virtual teams, and 284 fundraising teams.

Team D. Jackson donated $2,500.00 from the DeSean Jackson Foundation to the Autism Challenge. Gayle Jackson, President, of the DeSean Jackson Foundation, said that it was imperative that the Jackson family and our foundation participate in this year’s event to leverage the platform that we have been blessed with to raise Autism Awareness especially in the Black and Brown communities.  Unfortunately, Covid-19 impeded our ability to develop and execute a aggressive fundraising campaign. However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that approximately 1 in 54 children, in the U.S is diagnosed with an Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); 1 in 34 boys identified with autism; 1 in 44 girls identified with Autism; 31% of Autistic children have an intellectual disability; Autism affects all ethnic and socio-economic groups; minority groups tend to be diagnosed later in life and less often; early intervention affords the best opportunity to support healthy development and deliver benefits across the lifespan; and, there is no medical detection for autism. Therefore, our family was extremely grateful to the Eagles’ Autism Foundation staff for developing this virtual platform so we could participate and also be in compliance with Corona Virus mandates.  

Jackson also stated that as communities around the world are continuing to observe physical distancing measures, in order to prevent spread of Covid-19, many schools and businesses remain closed.  Autistic children may not understand why their daily routine is changing, which may lead to stress, frustration, anxiety.  The emotional triggers can exacerbate the effects of Autism and may lead to more severe behavioral and communication problems; and, severely restricted access to vital educational and early intensive behavioral intervention. Therefore, Team D. Jackson wanted to use this platform to raise awareness to the impact Covid-19 has on those with Autism and their caregivers and loved ones.   

The Jacksons also wanted to use this platform to invite medical researchers to apply for the 2020 Eagles’ Autism Foundation grant funding to support basic and clinical autism research, studies concentrating on affected individuals and families, and diverse model systems. Grant deadline is Friday, October 16th.

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More About the 2020 Eagles’ Autism Challenge:

The Eagles Autism Foundation has announced that the 2020 Eagles Autism Challenge, presented by Lincoln Financial Group, raised more than $3 million for autism research and care, thanks to donors from 14 countries, nearly 3,000 virtual participants and 284 fundraising teams. One hundred percent of the participant-raised funds will be directed to groundbreaking autism research and programs.

Originally scheduled for May 16, 2020, the Eagles Autism Challenge was re-scheduled to Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. [The event – made famous by its signature Wawa Junior 10-Mile Ride, Wawa Short 30-Mile Ride, Wawa Classic 50-Mile Ride, Five Below 5K Run/Walk and Five Below Sensory Walk – was moved to an all-virtual format where participants were encouraged to complete their selected course from home and share photos on social media using #EaglesAutismChallenge.]

“I am so deeply thankful and inspired by everyone who joined us virtually and supported our efforts from home this weekend,” said Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles. “As we clearly saw on Friday, Saturday and throughout these past few months, nothing is going to stop us from funding the most innovative autism research and programs around the world. When we work together, the possibilities are endless. Raising more than $3 million, and nearly $10 million over the first three years of the Eagles’ Autism Challenge, is an incredible accomplishment and a direct result of everyone’s generosity, participation and enthusiasm.”

The weekend commenced with a virtual kickoff party on Friday night featuring some very special guests, including NFL Pro Football Hall of Famer and Eagles’ Legend, Brian Dawkins, to celebrate in the pre-event festivities with participants. On Saturday, a post-ride celebration was held virtually to recognize everyone’s accomplishments and highlight top fundraisers.

More About The Eagles’ Autism Foundation

The Philadelphia Eagles’ Autism Foundation, which was founded by Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles, CEO, 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. Through fundraising efforts associated with the Eagles’ Autism Foundation, a total of 25 research projects and community grants have been funded for exploratory work in the field of autism since 2018.

Mission Statement:

The Eagles Autism Challenge is dedicated to raising funds for innovative research and programs to help unlock the mystery of autism. By providing the necessary resources to doctors and scientists at leading institutions, we will be able to assist those currently affected by autism as well as future generations. Our event aims to inspire and engage the community, so together, we can provide much needed support to make a lasting impact in the field of autism.

At the Eagles, we take our responsibility to the community very seriously and look for how to best leverage our brand and ability to bring people together in order to drive critical resources and funding to autism. We want to give a voice to families who live with autism – the ones who are out there every day advocating, promoting, supporting and seeking out opportunities for their loved ones.

2020 Eagles’ Autism Foundation Grant Application Process

The Eagles’ Autism Foundation is inviting researchers to apply for grant funding to support basic and clinical autism research, studies concentrating on affected individuals and families, and diverse model systems.

The 2020 Eagles’ Autism Foundation Request for Application process will fund two-year pilot grants that demonstrate substantial published or preliminary data signifying that a strong scientific premise supports the study under review. Researchers interested in applying for a pilot grant are encouraged to submit a Letter of Intent to the Eagles’ Autism Foundation by Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Once all research proposals have been fully vetted and approved by an independent scientific advisory board, a funding pool of more than $3 million – raised by the 2020 Eagles Autism Challenge – will be distributed and allocated to the principal investigators.

For More Information:  Please contact – Eagles’ Autism Foundation, One Nova Care Way, Philadelphia, PA 19145, (215) 339-6790