Annabel Bowlen, wife of Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, has announced that she has “joined her husband” in being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In a statement released on the Broncos website on June 26, Annabel said, “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 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… 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.”
In a separate statement, Annabel’s children said that they have been “inspired by the strength and courage our mother has shown as she’s supported our father in his own battle with Alzheimer’s disease… We’ll continue to support our parents, stay strong as a family and do our part to raise awareness for everyone affected by Alzheimer’s disease.” While Broncos’ CEO and President, Joe Ellis, said, “All of us at the Broncos are behind Annabel and know she’ll face this challenge with courage and determination.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Annabel Was Formerly a Figure Skating Teacher
Annabel is a former figure skating teacher. In a 2009 interview, Bowlen talked about living in Edmonton, Canada and working as an elementary school teacher and a figure skating teacher. When asked what she does to keep fit, Annabel said, “I do the elliptical machine for 45 minutes – five days a week and walk my Samoyed Husky daily. I love skiing in the winter – and figure skating.” Bowlen is a graduate of the University of Alberta with degrees in physical education and education.
A 2008 Denver Post article on debutantes on the city named Brittany Bowlen, daughter of Pat and Annabel. The piece mentions Brittany as being an “accomplished figure skater.” Prior to the 2008 Olympics, Brittany Bowlen worked with the Canadian figure skating team as part of her internship with the Institute for Sports Medicine in Toronto.
2. When Pat Bowlen Was Honored by the Broncos in 2015, Annabel Said it Was the ‘Players & Coaches’ that Brought Success, Not the Owners
When Pat Bowlen was honored at the Broncos’ Ring of Fame in 2015, he was inducted by Annabel. She told the audience, “To my husband, there is no one more important than the players and coaches who have made this franchise what it has become today. It’s not about me’ is a simple phrase of his that has defined his ownership.” Annabel continued, “Although Pat is now focused on his battle with Alzheimer’s, he would never want that terrible disease to define who he is or take away from what he has accomplished. But, fair or not, it is part of who he is. It’s part of his story. It’s also how Pat continues to have a positive impact on others.”
3. Since Pat Bowlen’s Diagnosis, the Broncos Have Raised More Than $500,000 for Alzheimer’s Research
Since 2014, when Pat Bowlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Annabel and her children have led the Walk the End Alzheimer’s every year in Denver. The Broncos organization has raised more than $500,000 for Alzheimer’s research since then. Annabel was quoted at the opening of the 2014 walk, “I like being part of the Walk so we can all come together in unity to raise awareness for this dreadful disease that is plaguing our community and our nation. The fact of the matter is, we all know someone with Alzheimer’s.” Tragically, long time Broncos’ coach, Dan Reeves, was quoted in 2014 as being asked by Annabel not to visit her husband because of his condition. Reeves said, “You don’t want to go here. He wouldn’t recognize you. He wouldn’t know if you were there or not.”
4. Annabel Bowlen Is Also Involved in Raising Money for Those Diagnosed With Down Syndrome
Annabel is also heavily involved with Down syndrome research charity, Be Beautiful Be Yourself. She told their website about her involvement saying, “I joined the Global Down Syndrome Foundation committee because the charity, Cherish the Children, that I formed many years ago, closed its doors and I was looking for a charity to become involved with that also centered around children with special needs… It means a lot to me because of my love for children and also the great admiration I have for Michelle Sie Whitten and her dedication and devotion that she has poured her heart and soul into… People should support the Global Down Syndrome Foundation because it is a solid first-class operation that is working with the top scientists and specialists in the world to significantly improve the lives of people with Down syndrome!”
5. Brittany Bowlen Is Positioned to Become the Broncos’ New Controlling Owner
In the 1990’s, the Bowlen’s set up a family trust that was designed to one day see their children run the team, according to a January 2018 Denver Post report. During the set up of that trust, CEO and president, Joe Ellis, was appointed as one of the three non-family member trustees. Pat Bowlen ceased to run the team day-to-day in 2013. NBC Denver reports that Brittany Bowlen is the “frontrunner” to take over as controlling owner. The Denver Post reports that each child will have the same stake in the team but only one would be responsible for making decisions on the running of the team. That Post report says that Brittany Bowlen has worked in the NFL’s junior rotational program in New York City, was completing an MBA at Duke University and has worked as an analyst with the Broncos.