It’s a big night for Philadelphia Eagles fans young and old. The Eagles will hold their third Eagles Flight Night! at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, August 26. There will be a host of different activities for the fans including a chance to watch the Eagles play in a live full-team practice.
“It’s going to be fantastic, and what’s different this time is a group of players got involved and formed a committee,” said Sarah Martinez-Helfman, executive director of Eagles Youth Partnership. “We got suggestions on how to make it more fun for the fans.
“We’re going to have some things that you haven’t seen before. We’re going to have a player singing the national anthem. We got a touchdown dance competition. We got a new laser and fireworks show at the end. It’s definitely going to be a lot of fun.”
The fans will have a chance to receive a jersey from an Eagles player. In addition, the first 10,000 kids (12 and under) will get a DeSean Jackson mini-bobblehead doll.
“The [bobblehead] was designed especially for the event,” Martinez-Helfman said. “It’s going to be a collector’s item. We’re pretty excited about that. DeSean is pretty excited about that. The players are into this event and we hope the fans come out, show the support for the team and the community.”
The gates at the Linc will open at 5:30 p.m. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $12 for children (12 and under) and $20 for adults. The tickets can be purchased at www.philadelphiaeagles.com. The proceeds from this event benefit the Eagles Youth Partnership’s programs.
“Every dollar that we raised goes to the Eagles Youth Partnership,” Martinez-Helfman said. “So, when someone comes and spends $10, that’s four new books for a child. If you come out and buy a ticket and some food, that’s a pair of eyeglasses for a kid who desperately needs one. You come out and enjoy your team and know that you are really doing good — that you can change a child’s life by just showing up that day.”
Eagles Flight Night! started three years ago. They didn’t have the event last year due to the NFL lockout. Nevertheless, the event has really grown in leaps and bounds.
“This is a perfect event for grandparents, parents and for kids,” she said. “It’s really family-friendly. It’s a way to share your love and passion for the Eagles with young ones who will be royally entertained by the event. It has grown in numbers. It has grown in player involvement. It’s just a fun family night.”
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, has played a lot of football games at Lincoln Financial Field. However, Vick made a special appearance at the Linc earlier this week not to play football, but to play chess against some of Philadelphia’s most talented chess players.
Vick competed against some great young chess players as part of the Eagles Chess day sponsored by ASAP/After School Activities Partnership and the Eagles Youth Partnership.
“It’s really nice to play chess with the kids to see how much they’ve learned and how much they know,” Vick said. “Any time you have a chess game, you have fun doing it. You’re trying to outplay your opponent. You’re trying to take more pieces from them. These kids can play. They’re real good. I’m proud of them. It’s good to see how much they’ve learned.”
The Eagles Chess Day is an invitation only event for 225 of the strongest and most dedicated young chess players (grades 2–12) from ASAP’s Philadelphia Youth Chess Challenge — a community of 3,000 students playing in 230 afterschool clubs in schools, libraries and community and recreation centers across the city. In addition to meeting and competing against Eagles like Vick, these outstanding students went head-to-head in four rounds of competition. After that, there was an awards ceremony in the Eagles locker room.
Jowel Ammons, a student from PMA at Leeds, had a chance to play chess against Vick. Ammons is a big Eagles fan. He was excited to face the Eagles signal caller.
“Playing chess against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL was absolutely the best,” said Ammons, who will attend Penn State in the fall. “Michael Vick knows how to play chess. I was a little intimidated at first from the moves he was making. I said, ‘Wow, he knows how to play chess. I might be in for some trouble. But down the road, I got my confidence up. I gave it everything I got and won the game.”
Since 2002, ASAP has worked to increase the number of after school enrichment programs for school-aged youth in an effort to improve academic achievement and decrease the incidences of youth violence, and to provide information on these programs to parents, caregivers and youth-workers. ASAP’s programs complement classroom-learning and are correlated with academic achievement.
The Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) has been a key supporter of ASAP and the Chess Challenge since its inception. Established in 1995, EYP is the charitable wing of the Eagles, focusing on health and education initiatives for children throughout the Philadelphia Region. EYP and ASAP share in their missions to improve opportunities and enhance the quality of life for children and youth in Philadelphia. Sarah Martinez-Helfman, executive director of EYP, has been very impressed with Vick’s community involvement with the youth.
“It’s great,” Martinez-Helfman said. “Ever since Michael got to the team, he’s been a great example. He’s been involved with the schools and the community. This is another example of that. He loves to play chess. This was a perfect match.”
Vick continues to make good moves on and off the field.
It means a lot to give something back to the community and make a difference for so many young people. That’s exactly what the Philadelphia Eagles did on Wednesday afternoon when the players, coaches, front office personnel and cheerleaders came out to the W.D. Kelley Elementary School, 1601 N. 28th St., to particiapte in the Eagles Youth Partnership 17th annual Playground Build.
This day-long event transformed the school yard into great place where kids can play and have fun. The kids and the Eagles painted murals on the school building. Sarah Martinez-Helfman, executive director for the Eagles Youth Partnership, has seen this community effort grow over the years.
”It’s astonishing to see the whole community and so many partners come together to make this day for these kids,” Martinez-Helfman said. “We’ve been planning with the school and the kids for six months. It’s one thing to tell a kid to dream big. It’s another thing to dream with them and teach them how to manifest that dream. We’re looking at their designs on the wall. We’re looking at the planning of this and now they’re going to see their dream realized.”
Amelia Brown, principal of the Kelley School, has watched these kids develop throughout the school year. Brown knows how fortunate they are to have the Eagles come to her school to build a playground while generating a tremendous amount of enthusiasm with the kids, school and community.
“I’m ecstatic,” Brown said. “My heart is elated. We’re very grateful that the Eagles Youth Partnership has chosen Kelley to be that school this year.”
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham grew up in Detroit in a community much like North Philadelphia where the Kelley School is located. Graham was excited to spend time with the kids.
“It’s always good to give back especially being from Detroit,” Graham said. “I know how much it means. I know people have given back to me. I took advantage of it. I know a lot of people who have taken advantage of this stuff. I really inspires them in some type of way.”