DENVER — As flower-shaped pinwheels dotted the crowd at City Park, members of the Bowlen family led a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
And with that, the 29th annual Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's began.
More than 100 Denver Broncos employees joined Team Super Bowlen — led by the Bowlen family — and more than 10,000 people on Saturday morning for the flagship event of the Alzheimer's Association's efforts to raise money for Alzheimer's research, support and care.
"It's really special. It's moving to see 10,000 people come together from the Denver community," said Brittany Bowlen, who was just one of Owner Pat Bowlen's children in attendance on Saturday. "It's a huge effort from the community, from the fans, from our players and even other NFL organizations that have supported us. This year we'll raise more money than we have any other year. Over the four years, we've raised about $400,000, which is great. It's going to help research, it's going to help awareness, and that's the most important thing: making a difference."
Saturday's Walk helped cap a fundraising campaign that raised more than $1.35 million for the Alzheimer's Association of Colorado. The Broncos and Team Super Bowlen each played a large role in raising funds to help combat the disease that affects more than 71,000 Coloradans.
"It says a lot about my dad's organization," Pat Bowlen III said. "I believe that we can do so much for the Alzheimer's foundation just by getting together — not only as a family but as a group of people, as the NFL as a whole — and just kill this disease once and for all."
Team Super Bowlen and the Broncos combined to help raise a record $115,000 for the cause, which is a dear one to the Broncos' organization.
Owner Pat Bowlen and his wife Annabel Bowlen are both fighting the disease, which is projected to impact more than 90,0000 Coloradans by 2025.
"I found that it's brought me closer to supporting [the cause] any way possible," said their daughter, Annabel Bowlen. "My mom being recently diagnosed has been a huge struggle for my family, but we've all come together and become a lot stronger from it. It just makes me want to get more involved and help find a cure. This is an awful disease, and it's not easy on people. It's probably the toughest thing you'll ever have to go through."
That's why research — and supporting the more than 247,000 Colorado caregivers — is so important.
"It's amazing, because we really need the support," Christianna Bowlen said. "I'm 20 years old, and not having my parents is tough sometimes. This support makes me feel a lot better."
The fight against Alzheimer's will continue over the coming months and years.
"We're so proud of what the team has come together to do this year, led by the Bowlen family," Executive Director of Community Development Allie Pisching said. "We've been able to really make a difference and raise funds that will make a difference in research in our community. ... This is a team effort across the board, and we've really rallied our fans together and they've rallied with us to make sure this is not just a Broncos initiative, it's a city-wide initiative."
As they showed Saturday, the Broncos and the Bowlen family will remain standing with those battling the disease.
Together, they will take more steps toward a cure.