On Wednesday, 20 exemplary members of Cadence Youth Cycling, four Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia staff members, and two generous donors from Capital One got a chance to join the Philadelphia Eagles at training camp. While there, the athletes got to meet several Eagles players, had a little relief from the heat under a large on-field tent with large buckets of ice-cold soda and water, and were provided chicken fingers and crab fries from Chickie’s and Pete’s.
(Needless to say: It was a good day.)
From the roughly 100+ members of Cadence, 20 of them have earned roles as All Stars, and were chosen to attend the practice as an award for their outstanding work on leadership and development with the program over the past year. As Eagles Senior Vice President of Marketing, Media and Communications Anne Gordon said, getting the youth athletes on the field was “a rare invite” — but they deserved it.
“I’m quite impressed. I thought we were just going to be sitting in bleachers watching the game,” the Coalition’s Director of Development and Eagles fan, Mary Courtney, said, before noting of the students in attendance: “We try to expose them to things in their life that they wouldn’t be exposed to… It shows them the kinds of opportunities that are out there for them.”
This point was reflected by a few of the kids.
“I feel very special because I feel like I’m part of something very important,” Cadence rider De’Sean Long said of being chosen to attend Eagles practice.
When they weren’t seeking shelter from the heat under the tent, several of the students visited the merchandise stand and purchased footballs and Eagles yearbooks to get signed later. Three even had their picture taken with former linebacker and Philadelphia Eagles network broadcaster, Kevin Reilly.
“For the ones that were able to come to this, that asserts a certain level of commitment that for all teenagers that can be a challenge with everything going on in their lives. To be able to stick with something that’s a good life lesson for them to learn,” said Jorge Brito, the Bicycle Coalition’s Development Coordinator.
When practice was over, the kids were given autographs from Eagles players as they made their way back to the locker room. But by far, the biggest treat of the day was when the team’s star linebacker—and Bicycle Coalition supporter—Connor Barwin made his way down the line.
“I’m all for youth cycling. I’m a big proponent of cycling anyway,” Barwin, who will be this year’s honoree at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s November Gala, said before taking some photos with the students. “It’s a great way to get exercise. It’s a great way to go out and see the city and learn about your neighborhood.”