Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie Donates $1M

Ed Kracz

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie announced on Friday that he will contribute $1 million to Penn Medicine as the country continues its battle against the spread of COVID-19.

Lurie’s contribution will go toward establishing the COVID-19 Immunology Defense Fund, which will lay the foundation for the world’s foremost experts to fight the pandemic.

In a statement released by Penn Medicine, Lurie said:

“We are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that is affecting all of us in so many ways. Every passing day brings new stories of heartbreaking tragedy, inspirational courage, and hopeful innovation. We can and will get through this, but only if we work together, care for each other, and focus our attention and resources towards sustainable strategies. 

"There are so many individuals and organizations who are making daily sacrifices, and we are incredibly thankful for their dedication and bravery. We must continue to support these efforts in every way that we can, while also seeking a solution that will help us move forward.”

Lurie spent a lot of time trying to determine how his contribution would have the greatest impact both in the short and long term.

The funds will support both an emerging research program to test front-line health care workers for potential immunity to COVID-19, as well as flexibility for Penn Medicine’s researchers to develop real-time research protocols to battle the disease.

Lurie’s statement went on to say:

“We have reached a critical point in our fight against COVID-19 in which testing for antibodies is absolutely essential both to protect our front-line workers in the short term and to develop treatments and vaccines that will save lives and help defeat the virus.

“With that in mind, I am proud to offer my support to Penn Medicine’s research efforts by establishing the COVID-19 Immunology Defense Fund. This fund will aid Penn’s multi-disciplinary approach in immunology, merging research in diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccine development. Researchers from those three areas will work hand-in-hand and rely upon one another to create an immediate and lasting impact both locally and worldwide.”

The ability to test workers for immunity will have an immediate impact on front line workers, which was important to Lurie. He is also hoping that the research will help create a lasting impact in the future through treatment and vaccine development.

“In a time of national crisis, this is the kind of extraordinary partnership that can open doors and discover new pathways to address the profound challenges before us,” said University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann. “I am personally grateful to an exceptional civic leader and great friend, Jeffrey Lurie, for giving us the tools to fight back against this pandemic in a way that may not only benefit our city and country but also the world.”

In addition to Lurie, two Eagles players have also stepped up to help fight the disease.

Tight end Zach Ertz and his wife Julie, through their foundation, the Ertz Family Foundation, announced last month that they were giving $100,000 to Philabundance, a Philadelphia-area food bank that is working with the city of Philadelphia to help supply emergency food for individuals in need.

Philabundance serves 350 smaller agencies, more than 50 of which were forced to close as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Safety Rodney McLeod and his wife Erika, through their foundation, Change Our Future, are contributing $25,000 to Philabundance.

In a related note, the Eagles decided to postpone their third annual Autism Challenge, scheduled for May 16.

"While we were all looking forward to an exciting and transformational day on May 16, the safety and well-being of our community, event participants and staff comes first," said Ryan Hammond, executive director of the Eagles Autism Foundation. "We are closely monitoring developments and will continue to make all necessary adjustments based on the recommendations of medical experts.”

The Eagles Autism Challenge, championed by Lurie, is a one-day bike ride and family-friendly 5K run/walk that begins and ends at Lincoln Financial Field.

Since launching in May, 2018, the event has raised more than $7 million for cutting-edge autism research and care for Philadelphia institutions.