Six Deserving South Jersey Kids Visit Eagles Training Camp (PHOTOS)Last Edited:
PHILADELPHIA, PA. — Bianca’s Kids, a South Jersey nonprofit organization founded by Debbie Savigliano in 2010, has granted wishes to thousands of children in need. With a mission of bringing hope and joy to all children battling adversity, Savigliano and her team of dream-makers took an excited group of kids to Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp at the NovaCare Center in Philadelphia on Friday, Aug. 4.
The group included several children who have been through the Child Protection and Permanency system (formerly DYFS), and one big Eagles fan who is living with Asperger Syndrome.
This is the fifth year Savigliano has taken a group of deserving children to training camp, which not only makes the kids’ dreams come true but is also very meaningful to the players.
Glassboro’s own Corey Clement, now a running back for the Eagles, says the opportunity to play for his home team is still a dream to him every day.
“I grew up going to Eagles training camp all my life,” Clement told SNJ Today after signing autographs and taking photos with everyone in Bianca’s Kids’ group. “Now I get to represent my hometown on this team. It’s not just a job. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Here are the stories of these incredible South Jersey children and their once-in-a-lifetime visit to Eagles Training Camp with Bianca’s Kids.
Damien Lerner of Clayton
Damien, who lives with Asperger’s Syndrome, is 10 years old and a huge Eagles fan.
“I want an Eagles costume,” he said excitedly before correcting himself. “I mean uniform.”
Damien’s mother Donna wrote to Savigliano at Bianca’s Kids, nominating her son for a wish.
“They granted my daughter’s wish a few years ago, “ Lerner said.
Savigliano said the girl’s wish was to take dance classes and become a cheerleader. Her mother said she was a natural and went on to win several awards and travel to Baltimore and West Virginia to compete.
“South Jersey people are our number one priority,” Savigliano said. “When we get a wish request from South Jersey, we try our best to grant that wish.”
Damien visited with Eagles great Harold Carmichael, Noah the Bald Eagle, and had many current members of the team sign his football.
When asked if he had fun, the ear-to-ear smile spoke louder than words.
Chad Martin of Woodbury
Thirteen-year-old Chad Martin is being raised by both his grandmother and his aunt, Shelby Martin.
“Whatever my mom can’t do for him, I do,” Martin said.
Chad was brought to Savigliano’s attention by a representative from the Child Protection and Permanency system who believed he deserved to have a wish granted. And even though Chad’s a Raven’s fan, he said it was still exciting to be at Eagles training camp to see how the process works behind the scenes.
“He’s going to play football this year,” his aunt said. “We’re putting him out there.”
Four grateful grandkids
Elaine Crawford accompanied her grandchildren to Eagles training camp after the family was nominated for a wish by a representative from Camden County’s Child Protection and Permanency system.
“So many grandparents are raising their grandkids this day and age,” Savigliano said.
The oldest, Michael Woodson, is 18 and heading to Penn State in the fall.
“The kids are very close, so this is an amazing last hurrah for them all together before he leaves,” Crawford said.
The children were taken away from their mother who is battling bipolar disorder and drug addiction. That’s when Crawford stepped into the “mother” role. She said the disciplinary transition from grandmother to mom has been difficult, but everyone is adjusting nicely.
At training camp, Michael, along with his sister Jaysianna Watts, 11, and Harry Watts, 8, met their favorite players and took home footballs filled with autographs. Their sister, Cecilia Watts, 14, was unable to attend but was there in spirit.
“This is a dream come true for them,” Crawford said.
SNJ Today is a Southern New Jersey news and information source that is dedicated to providing current stories related specifically to South Jersey.
Do you have community news or events? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, text SNJNews to 313131, or call 856.825.NEWS (6397).