CANTON, Ohio — During Friday's "State of the Hall" address, Class of 2019 enshrinee Kevin Mawae stood to make a surprise announcement.
On behalf of the rest of the Class of 2019, Mawae announced a donation to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in honor of Pat Bowlen.
For his children in attendance — Brittany Bowlen, Beth Bowlen Wallace, Annabel Bowlen, Amie Klemmer and Christianna Bowlen — the moment was powerful.
"This was the first time that anything like this had ever been done," Brittany said, "It was in honor of my father, and it was really moving. We were completely shocked by it, and it was a great moment."
Bowlen Wallace said Mawae began the speech by talking about how the Hall of Fame's wall of donors lacked names from the NFL community. The Class of 2019, he said, would change that.
"But what we didn't expect was they were doing it in my father's honor," Bowlen Wallace said. "It was certainly an emotional and very humbling and wonderful thing to have them do in memory of my father."
The moment generated an emotional response from the family members in attendance.
"It meant so much to me that they all got together to do that, because my dad, I don't know if he would really say, 'this is for me,' but it really is for him," Annabel said. "That was so special. It brought tears to my eyes."
Added Klemmer: "Oh my gosh. We all were crying. It was really special that they felt driven to do that –– and to do it in his honor, I can't explain it. It was very meaningful."
During a weekend that is designed to celebrate the legacy of Bowlen and the rest of the Class of 2019, this surprise moment only added to the experience.
"It meant the world to all of us," Christianna said.