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Jason Kelce, A.J. Brown take part in Eagles Autism Challenge

<i>KYW</i><br/>Eagles players A.J. Brown
Eagles players A.J. Brown


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    PHILADELPHIA (KYW) — Thousands of people are running, walking and cycling for a good cause Saturday morning.

The 6th annual Eagles Autism Challenge is underway in South Philadelphia, with about 4,500 participants.

The event kicked off at Lincoln Financial Field and will take participants all around Philadelphia on their choice of three cycling routes – Wawa Classic 30-Mile Ride, Wawa Shorti 10-Mile Ride, Wawa Junior 10-Mile Youth Ride. Walkers can choose to take part in the FreedomPay 5K Run/Walk and the FreedomPay Sensory Walk.

Clouds and rain weren’t stopping these participants from raising money for funding autism research.

At the challenge’s starting point outside Lincoln Financial Field, members of the team were out greeting fans, signing autographs and taking pictures before participating in the event.

We spotted wide receiver A.J. Brown, center Jason Kelce and defensive end Brandon Graham.

“Any time that you get an opportunity to interact with the fans, any time that you get an opportunity to raise money for a cause to support families or to support any individuals that need it, I think that’s one of the great roles that a professional athlete has in any city,” Kelce said.

“Philadelphia, the fans have such a close relationship with these sports teams, it’s such a huge part of the community and it’s something that I really enjoy,” he added.

We’re told the idea for the challenge came from Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, to provide support to families.

The event has raised $20 million in the past five years, including more than $4 million last year.

“Really about lifting this community up, giving a voice,” said Ryan Hammond, executive director of the Eagles Autism Challenge. “These families need a place where the community is wrapping their arms around them, and I think that’s what it’s all about. Making sure that there’s resources, support…their heroes are by their side, supporting them and honestly raising millions and millions of dollars.”

Kelce has helped out the Eagles Autism Foundation plenty of times before – last year he brought his brother, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, and offensive tackle Jordan Mailata to bartend at a Sea Isle City bar where they raised money.

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