The Philadelphia Eagles, with Santander Bank, awarded a $10,000 Grand Prize to the co-founder of the Bucks County Challenger Flag Football program. With the most votes from the community, Bob Wargo is the winner of the Santander Community Quarterback award.

As it winds down its 13th season, the Challenger program allows special needs children to practice and play flag football with one another. Players from local high school teams including Pennsbury and Neshaminy act as guides and helpers for the Mustangs.

Bob Wargo, back row third from left, is recognized with 9 other individuals, with Vince Papale at left.

“The high school players do a great job with the Challenger athletes, and the Challenger athletes look up to the high schoolers. It’s a win-win,” Wargo told WBCB.

The Community Quarterback award is reserved for outstanding individuals. It honors those “who exemplify leadership and commitment to improving their communities.”

As part of his reward, Wargo enjoyed a pre-game ceremony Sunday with former Eagles Wide Receiver Vince Papale. Then, he watched the Eagles-Bears game right from the field.

$10,000 is quite a large sum, and Wargo says it will all go back into the Challenger program.

“More equipment, new hoodies, trophies, things like that for the kids,” Wargo said.

The Challenger program includes practice and games. Even the Sunday after Pennsbury beat Neshaminy for a place in the playoffs, players were working together for the Challenger children.

Challenger also has a cheerleader program for girls with special needs. It acts similarly to the football league, with high school girls volunteering.

A student athlete helps the Challenger players. Photo by Sam Goldberg.

One of the real joys of co-founding the Challenger program with his wife Joan is to reflect on the fruits of their labor. Wargo says seeing the children engage with the high school players is heartwarming.

“It’s a beautiful experience. The boys and girls are supportive of the special needs kids. Acceptance is becoming so big in our society now.”

Wargo also gave credit to Neshaminy Coach Steve Wilmot for helping to start the program all those years ago. Wilmot encouraged his players to help the program before it spread. Now, even students from the Bristol and Morrisville School Districts have helped out.