DENVER- As walkers crossed the finish line on Saturday during the Walk to End Alzheimer's, they were handed a microphone and asked who they were walking for. Answers like "my mom," "my grandfather" and "my uncle" were common.
While those responses were consistently echoed, so was "Pat Bowlen."
Earlier this year, the Broncos and the Bowlen family announced that Mr. Bowlen had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, which affects approximately 5.2 million Americans.
The Bowlen Family and Broncos fans came together on Sunday to form "Team Super Bowlen" and participate in the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's. The walk took place at City Park and boasted approximately 8,000 participants.
Annabel Bowlen cut the ribbon during the opening ceremonies to signal the beginning of the walk.
The Alzheimer's Association Colorado Chapter President and CEO Linda Mitchell said seeing Mrs. Bowlen and the Bowlen family at the race "means the world" to those affected by the disease.
"There's 250,000 caregivers in the same kind of situation as Mrs. Bowlen is in," Mitchell said. "Everyone else that is dealing with that same disease, that same journey, feels validated. They fell like 'Wow, that's a great thing for that family to do. They understand what we're dealing with because they're dealing with it too.' So it's an amazing thing that moves our cause forward by leaps and bounds this year."
The Bowlen family and Broncos fans came together on Sunday to form 'Team Super Bowlen' and participate in the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's.
Team Super Bowlen raised over $68,000 for the cause. While the monetary benefits of the Bowlen's support will help the organization in advancing research and providing programs and support for those affected by the disease, the Bowlens joining the cause has aided the Alzheimer's Association in other ways.
Jill Lorentz, who organized the walk, said the Colorado chapter's "phone has been ringing off the hook" since the Bowlens announced that Mr. Bowlen has been living with Alzheimer's. She said Broncos fans are constantly calling and offering support for Mr. Bowlen and to help the organization.
"The money raised goes a long way in helping our families with our support groups, our care consultation, our help line," Lorentz said. "All those things are supported by the money that we raised at the Walk to End Alzheimer's, so we are deeply indebted to the Bowlens for helping us out with that."
Fans signed a poster for the Bowlen family, showing their support, and presented it to them after the race.
"Through the Alzheimer's Association and our Walk to End Alzheimer's, it's been phenomenal to have Mrs. Bowlen involved along with her family members and support from the Broncos organization," Mitchell said. "The fact that they've gone public with their family's story has a wonderful impact on this cause and our ability to raise money to support all of the services that we provide to families across Colorado and to fund research."
"This is the largest Walk to End Alzheimer's we've ever had as a result of their participation, and we were honored to have them cut the ribbon this morning and start the walk on such a glorious note."