By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
When Jason Kelce finally decides to end his illustrious football career, the All-Pro and Pro-Bowl center for the Philadelphia Eagles should be able to seamlessly transition into a new bartending gig at the Jersey Shore.
Kelce picked up valuable experience as a celebrity bartender last summer at the Ocean Drive in Sea Isle City and will be back again Wednesday, June 29, to pour drinks for his fans.
Although Kelce’s appearance at the landmark bar is part of a fun outing for Eagles fans, it also has serious overtones because it will serve as a major fundraiser for autism research and programs through the Eagles Autism Foundation.
Mike Ferry, a manager at the Ocean Drive, better known to its legions of customers as the OD, said donors will be able to make “a significant contribution to a great cause.” Even the OD’s bartending tips will be donated, he noted.
“It speaks volumes,” Ferry said about Sea Isle’s role in the fundraiser. “It’s a family-oriented vacation spot. Last year, the event had people ready to enjoy themselves after the pandemic.”
Ferry pointed out that many people have been touched in some way by autism, often by having a family member, friend or acquaintance affected by the developmental disorder.
Last year’s fundraiser at the OD highlighted by Kelce’s appearance was a big success. Kelce’s “Team 62” is part of the Eagles Autism Challenge, an annual fundraiser for the Eagles Autism Foundation.
Ever since the Eagles Autism Challenge was launched in 2018, the effort has raised more than $16 million for the foundation.
During Kelce’s guest bartending appearance last summer at the OD, a total of $100,000 was raised for the autism foundation, including $50,000 from the public and a matching $50,000 donation from Kelce and his wife, Kylie.
Kelce is expected to be on hand June 29, from 4-8 p.m. at the OD as well as its outdoor venue, the Sandbar and Grill. He will also spend part of his time at the Paddy’s Green outdoor bar at the OD’s sister property, O’Donnell’s Pour House.
Ferry said Paddy’s Green will be transformed into a family-friendly atmosphere from 4-6 p.m. that will be suitable for children. There will be attractions catering to families and kids.
There will be a $10 donation for members of the public to attend the fundraiser. Tickets will be available June 29 at the door. There will be no advance ticket sales, Ferry said.
“There is a $10 donation to enter. It will give you a chance to hang out with the Eagles fan base and fans of Jason Kelce,” he said.
Kelce, a major part of the Eagles 2018 Super Bowl championship team, is expected to sign autographs, pose for photos and mingle with the fans.
“Jason will be around and on-site at different segments of the afternoon,” Ferry said.
In addition to Kelce, other Eagles players will be announced in coming days for the fundraiser, Ferry noted.
“Jason foresees other players joining him this year. Come out and see,” Ferry said.
The event will also include raffles, auctions, autographed footballs and Eagles-themed merchandise for sale to raise money for the Eagles Autism Foundation.
For more information about the Eagles Autism Foundation, visit (2) Eagles Autism Foundation | Facebook
The Ocean Drive is located at 3915 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City. For more information, visit theod.com or call (609) 263-1000.