Eagles Autism Challenge returns for 5th year to raise millions for autism research and care

The Philadelphia Eagles Autism Challenge kicked off its fifth year of fundraising and races with a party at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday. 

Executive Director of the Eagles Autism Foundation Ryan Hammond said the charitable effort raised $4M this year for autism research and care. 

"The fact that every dollar is going into autism research and care is transformational," Hammond said. 

The Philadelphia Orchestra played a sensory-friendly performance at The Linc on Friday night. Cycling races of three different varieties will begin Saturday morning, followed by a 5K run-walk.

Anna Henderson and her family from Wallingford will walk Saturday to support her 8-year-old son Josh who was diagnosed with autism at 3.

"I definitely don’t think Josh would be where he is today if he hadn’t had the diagnosis from CHOP therapies he’s received from local organizations, and they wouldn’t be able to do that without the funding received from the foundation," Anna said. 

To date, the foundation has raised more than $16M, but the Eagles' autism advocacy doesn't stop there. The team prides itself on being a sensory-friendly organization.

"You can’t come to eagle game without knowing u can go to sensory room without using our app to have visual schedules," Hammond said. "That's what it’s about, wrapping our arms around community, being a voice for 1 in 44 and knowing we are avail to meet them where they need us."