Jason Kelce mixes drinks for his fans during his celebrity bartender appearance.


The last time Philly fans saw this many Eagles in one place, it was in the Super Bowl last February against the Kansas City Chiefs.

But there they were: Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Dallas Goedert, Landon Dickerson and Jake Elliot, as well as former Eagles Connor Barwin, Trent Cole and Todd Herremans.

Topping all of that star power was All-Pro and Pro-Bowl Eagles center Jason Kelce and his All-Pro and Pro-Bowl tight end brother, Travis Kelce, of the Chiefs.

Jason Kelce was swarmed by hundreds of adoring fans for autographs and selfies during his annual celebrity bartending appearance Wednesday in Sea Isle City to raise money for the Eagles Autism Foundation.

The crowd was packed in shoulder-to-shoulder at an outdoor area set up at the Paddy’s Green dining spot at O’Donnell’s Pour House and next door at the Sandbar and Grill at the Ocean Drive bar. There were lines of fans stretching down the sidewalks of Landis Avenue waiting to get in both places.

Kelce was elated that so many fans turned out to help him raise money for his “Team 62” charity, which is part of the Eagles Autism Challenge, an annual fundraiser for the Eagles Autism Foundation now in its third year in Sea Isle.

“It’s been incredible. The last three years have been a whirlwind,” Kelce said in an interview. “This community supports any type of charitable benefit like no other. Considering my first time ever stepping foot in Sea Isle, I found it’s a very community-driven island and it’s a very family-driven island.”

“And to come here and lend any type of helping hand I can to great causes like the Eagles Autism Foundation, I’m just blessed to be here with all these great people. It’s very humbling,” he added.

This was the third year that Kelce partnered with the Ocean Drive bar and its sister property, O’Donnell’s Pour House, for the fundraising event. It was not immediately announced how much money was raised Wednesday, but last year the event pulled in more than $100,000.

“We’re having a great day. We’re raising a lot of money for autism,” said Ralph Pasceri, who co-owns the Ocean Drive and O’Donnell’s with his brother, Pat, and their business partner, Michael Roberts.

Crowds pack the outdoor bar and dining area at O’Donnell’s Pour House.

This year, Kelce added a twist to the fundraiser by also having a beer pong contest that offered a $50,000 prize to the winning team. Teams were selected for the contest after submitting videos showing off their creative names and themes.

It was known ahead of time that Kelce was bringing his brother, Travis, with him to Sea Isle. But the appearance of so many other current and former Eagles was a huge surprise for the fans.

“We have a very strong mission with the Eagles Autism Foundation. A lot of the guys have no problem lending their free time, especially for a fun event like this. We just drink beers and have fun,” Kelce said of the players taking part in the fundraiser.

Kelce named Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Landon Dickerson, Dallas Goedert, Jake Elliot, Connor Barwin, Trent Cole and Todd Herremans as the current and former players who showed up, but was worried that he might have overlooked some players.

“There’s a lot of guys here,” he said.

Also on hand was former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese, who is a host with Philly sports radio WIP. Reese was part of a live WIP broadcast at O’Donnell’s during the fundraiser.

All of the players were greeted by enthusiastic crowds that let out impromptu chants of “E-A-G-L-E-S … Eagles!”

Former Eagle Connor Barwin autographs a football for a fan.

Cox and Barwin were cheered when they took their turn tending bar. In between serving drinks, they posed for selfies with Eagles fans and autographed footballs and Eagles jerseys.

“This is exactly what I expected. I know Kelce so well, and I know how he connects with the community. This is something near and dear to Kelce,” Barwin said of the overflow crowd turning out for the event.

Barwin is currently working in the Eagles front office as director of player development. His 10-year NFL playing career included four seasons with the Eagles from 2013 to 2016.

Last Saturday, Barwin held a charity pickleball fundraising event in Sea Isle to benefit his Make The World Better foundation. He praised the Sea Isle community for its strong support of his and Kelce’s fundraisers.

“I love it that there are a lot of people here. It’s so cool to connect with so many fans on such a personal level,” he said.

Jason Kelce poses for a selfie.

Kelce’s ties to Sea Isle go beyond his fundraising event. He and his wife, Kylie, also own a summer vacation home in Sea Isle and are often seen at local restaurants and shops or walking their dogs.

Sisters Kasey and Devin Stelweck, of Sea Isle, talked about Kelce’s hometown connections while they were sharing drinks with friends at O’Donnell’s Pour House during the fundraiser.

Kasey Stelweck said she sees Kelce from time to time at the Sea Isle Acme or the Bubba Dogs hotdog stand at 59th Street and the beach. She even buys Bubba Dogs’ special “Jason Kelce hotdog” topped with potato sticks.

“You see him at Acme in flip-flops,” Kasey said. “I love seeing him. He’s a normal guy. He’s down to earth.”

Devin, meanwhile, was excited by sharing a few words with Kelce during the fundraiser when he first showed up at O’Donnell’s.

“He told me, ‘It’s so good to see you,’” Devin said. “It was as if I know him. But I don’t know him. He’s such a sweetheart.”

Sisters Kasey and Devin Stelweck of Sea Isle City, at left, share drinks with friends, Nicole and Steve Johnson, of Ocean City.

Kasey and Devin were joined at the event by their friends, Steve and Nicole Johnson of Ocean City.

Steve Johnson said he wasn’t surprised by the huge crowd that greeted Kelce in Sea Isle.

“It’s his popularity,” Johnson said.

Johnson and his wife arrived at 9 a.m. for the start of a series of events connected to the fundraiser. They planned to stay until everything wrapped up Wednesday night.

“We’re here as long as we can be – until we get a babysitter’s call,” Johnson said with a laugh about the couple’s two children, Carter and Makena, being watched by a babysitter at their home.

Mike and Maureen Shrader, of Sea Isle City, enjoy the fundraiser.

Sea Isle City residents Maureen and Mike Shrader, another couple at the fundraiser, are diehard Eagles fans.

“Philly has a very hardcore Eagles base in Delaware County and Sea Isle,” Maureen said.

Kelce is definitely one of their favorite Eagles, they noted. And it isn’t just because he is a star player.

“It is great how involved Jason is in the autism fundraiser every year,” Maureen said.

Jason Kelce’s Fundraiser “Team 62” for autism is displayed on the Ocean Drive sign.
Former Eagle turned popular WIP radio host Ike Reese broadcasts at the event.
Eagle Fletcher Cox is joined by hundreds of fans who take his photo.
Jason Kelce poses with the Eagles cheerleaders.
Joanne Kowall, of Media, Pa., holds up a handmade sign to try to get Jason Kelce’s attention.
The line to O’Donnell’s wraps around the block.
Categories: Sea Isle City

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.