On May 19th, participants in the Eagles Autism Challenge will head off along the route by bike and on foot. For our community at Drexel, there is good reason to cheer on the cyclists, runners and walkers, both now and at the starting signal — because the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute will be one of three autism research centers in the region to share in the proceeds from the Eagles’ generous efforts.
Finding ways for people on the autism spectrum to pursue fulfilling lives is vitally important work to this community, and I am deeply grateful that the Eagles Autism Challenge will help us continue our efforts. The Eagles’ support will move us one step closer to realizing the goal of this life-enhancing research by Drexel and our Autism Challenge partner institutions, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health.
The more we can do as a community to support the Autism Challenge the better. In an effort to support participation, I am announcing today that the University will cover the registration fee for 100 faculty or professional staff who register by March 1. The fee will be paid for the first 70 cyclists and the first 30 participants in the 5K run/walk. When signing up online, please use the following codes to waive the fee: Drexelride or Drexel5k, respectively. To all of you who will be signing up, please accept my sincere thanks. I hope that many Drexel faculty and professional staff, beyond these first 100, will join and participate in what is destined to become one of the city’s signature events.
The work of Drexel’s Autism Institute is groundbreaking and far-reaching. For instance, Diana Robins, professor and research program leader, is conducting research with an $11.4 million Autism Center for Excellence grant from the National Institutes of Health. Her work in exploring whether screening and treating autism spectrum disorder improves developmental outcomes at school age has the potential to affect the lives of countless of children by promoting early detection. And four alumni of the first class from the Institute’s Project SEARCH program — which provides skills training needed to succeed in the workplace to young adults with autism — have found career-track positions at Philadelphia International Airport. Just imagine the enormous potential if we can find ways to expand such initiatives.
Once again, my thanks to everyone who plans to help the Eagles’ Autism Challenge fly higher. And to the Eagles, congratulations on the NFC championship and good luck in the Super Bowl!