Annabel Bowlen, wife of longtime Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, announced in a team-released statement that she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The Bowlens are, of course, all too familiar with the disease as Pat has battled it for several years, even before relinquishing control of the team in 2014.
Here’s the statement:
I recently learned that I’ve joined my husband Pat and the millions of others who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Since Pat’s diagnosis, I have gained a vivid understanding of this disease’s progression and its effect on those living with it as well as their families. My family and I have been — and will remain — dedicated supporters of Alzheimer’s awareness, treatment and research funding.
I decided to make my diagnosis public right away in the hope that it continues to raise awareness for those battling Alzheimer’s and their loved ones. With June also being Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the timing was right for me to share this personal update with everyone.
I feel that it is important for people to know that those in my situation do not need to completely withdraw from their daily activities. Based on my own experience with Pat, there will still be many joyous and rewarding moments for me as well as my family and friends.
I intend to proceed in life with the same strength, courage and endurance that Pat has shown in his battle with this disease. Like Pat, I know there will be good days and bad days ahead. I’m grateful to have the support of my family and especially my children — Patrick, Johnny, Brittany, Annabel and Christianna.
It’s my hope to remain involved in various Alzheimer’s events as my health allows. And of course, I’ll be cheering on our Broncos.
Most importantly, thank you to all of our incredible fans for the compassion and support you’ve given to me, Pat and our entire family.
You’re probably most familiar with Annabel Bowlen, 62, as the team representative who took the stage after the Broncos won Super Bowl 50.
Bowlen grew up in Edmonton, Canada and was a figure skater and schoolteacher before she met and married Pat, with whom she had five children.
While Pat was involved in day-to-day operations with the team for thirty years, Annabel devoted her time to philanthropy, working with various charities such as the Beacon Youth and Family Center and the Cherish the Children Gala.
This announcement took a lot of courage from Annabel Bowlen, having no doubt seen firsthand the difficulties of a disease that has afflicted so many people and altered so many lives. Knowing all too well how hard the battle ahead will be and still facing this disease head on with an optimistic spirit is incredibly admirable and brave.
I’m sure most people reading this have been affected by either Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another brain disease. It’s obviously heartbreaking, but it’s so much different than something like cancer where (in most cases) the person suffering from the disease is aware and fully conscious. Something like Alzheimer’s can either quickly, or slowly, rob the person of their ability to do simple tasks or remember people they’ve been close with all their lives.
So knowing that’s what lies ahead must be terrifying, and the fact that she’s still willing to go public and try to use her platform and status in the community (both league-wide and in Colorado) to make people aware of this disease and participate in Alzheimer’s events is something that simultaneously lifts your spirits and breaks your heart.
The Bowlens have always been top-tier owners, and I say that having been cursed to a life as a Sacramento Kings fan, where the owners spent half a decade trying to move the team and basically do everything in their power to fuck up. You can always release a player, fire a GM or a coach, but ownership is more or less fixed.
We all know the Bowlen stats: Since 1984, the Broncos have been to seven Super Bowls, won three, and have endured just six losing seasons.
It’s no coincidence They’re about as good as you could ask for from ownership and they succeeded in creating an organizational culture that had bred not just winning, but winning the right way.
Pat chose correctly between Dan Reeves and John Elway, he knew when to let Mike Shanahan go (and did it in a dignified manner), and even did everything right when rebounding from the McDaniels years, which were his only real mistake.
In a league with owners like Dan Snyder, Stan Kroenke, and Jimmy Haslam, the Broncos have been blessed with incredible leadership since 1984.
The Bowlens have always exudde class, and Annabel has showed that in the face of turmoil and uncertainty, she exudes grace as well.
Here’s a link to donate to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, if you are so inclined.