Soaring to new heights

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While the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles led fans on a nail-biting odyssey to Super Bowl glory, Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie was already gearing up for the team’s next challenge.

Family at the Eagles Autism Challenge Lurie established the Eagles Autism Foundation (EAF) to rally the Eagles organization, its sponsors and fans toward a different goal: to drive scientific breakthroughs in autism research and establish Philadelphia as the global epicenter. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has received more than $7 million for competitively awarded research projects.

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the country, characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. It affects one in 54 Americans — a 26% increase since three years ago. Yet, it has historically been underfunded, misunderstood and under-researched.

“The mission of the EAF is to fund the very best autism research and programs,” Lurie says. “What we learn here will be shared both nationally and globally so that everyone can benefit.”

With more than 10,000 patients on the autism spectrum each year and its world-renowned Center for Autism Research (CAR), CHOP is poised to spark generational change for individuals on the autism spectrum. “Initiatives like the EAF open the door to research with the potential to make a generational impact,” CAR Director Robert Schultz, PhD, says. “We will be able to discern patterns in behavior, genetics and brain development — and create innovative clinical support programs tailored to grow with each patient, so they can achieve their greatest potential throughout their lives.”

This is just one of the many stories of donor impact that happened during the campaign For Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs.