Daily Sports Smile: Jason Kelce makes fan's day as Eagles raise record funds for autism

Victoria Hernandez
USA TODAY Sports+

The Philadelphia Eagles showed brotherly love to their community in a big way, raising $4.1 million for autism awareness during their fifth annual Eagles Autism Challenge last month.

The event is a cycling challenge and 5k run/walk where players engage with fans for a good cause.

Eagles center Jason Kelce was the star of the show when he shared a special moment with a fan, Nicole Quigley. He took time to sign various memorabilia items she brought and ended their chat with a big bear hug.

"I'm so happy, I'm so excited," Quigley said to NBC 10 Philadelphia. "It's literally been my goal for years to meet Jason.

"The fact that I got to meet him this year, the man means everything. He represents Philly. He is every person. It's the world. I don't really need anything else right now in my life."

The news outlet showed Quigley's reaction to the Pro Bowler and he was touched.

"Those reactions, the feeling that we give fans is a big reason why we do what we do and a big reason why it brings us joy." he said. "As you get older, you start to appreciate all that more and realize how truly blessed we all are to be in the position we are as players to be able to provide whatever it is: hope, encouragement, motivation, joy. We get to to do that for millions of people every Sunday and it is something that's not taken for granted at all."

Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (86) is seen during pregame warmups before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)

Quarterback Jalen Hurts was also among the nearly 3,000 local participants and applauded owner Jeffrey Lurie for the platform to give back and bring the community together.

“I think it’s a big deal for the city, I think it’s a big deal for our organization and the autistic community,” he said after the event. “The foundation that we’ve created, Mr. Lurie’s created, it just shows that we just want to bring awareness to it, and I think an event like this does a great job of doing that.

"What we’re building now is very special, connecting, coming together as a football team and as an organization to do great things in the community and on the field. It all matters.”

The Eagles Autism Challenge raised $16 million over its five years in existence. The money has been awarded as grants to various foundations for 63 projects to treat and research autism, which affects one in 44 people in the United States.