By Michael Spencer
DENVER (CBS4) – Annabel Bowlen, the wife of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, announced via a statement on Wednesday morning that she, too, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Her announcement comes nearly four years after her husband relinquished control of the team following his diagnosis for the same disease.
“I recently learned that I’ve joined my husband Pat and the millions of others who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Bowlen via her statement on the team’s website.
“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,” she continued.
Annabel’s announcement comes nearly four years after Pat Bowlen relinquished control of the team following his diagnosis of the disease and comes the same month as the country recognizes Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.
“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,” Bowlen’s statement says. “With June also being Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month the timing was right for me to share this personal update with everyone.”
Denver Broncos linebacker and Super Bowl MVP in 2015, Von Miller posted his support for Annabel on his Instagram page.
“The day that Pat Bowlen announced his disease, we got a call on our hotline from a man who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but hadn’t told any of his family. He said to us, ‘If a man like Pat Bowlen can have Alzheimer’s and talk about it, so can I,'” said Colorado Alzheimer’s Association Executive Director Amelia Schafer. “She knew this would raise awareness and erase some of the stigma and hopefully alleviate the fear of talking about this disease.”
Annabel has served as the figurehead of Broncos ownership since Pat stepped aside to focus on his health.
Wednesday’s news will have no impact on the Broncos ownership nor on the day-to-day operations of the team.
Pat Bowlen established a trust in the late-1990’s with the purpose of passing ownership to one of his seven children, and the trust will continue to have control of the team. The three person trust is made up of non-family members and includes Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis.
“Our hearts go out to Annabel and the entire Bowlen family,” said Ellis in a statement. “She has been a wonderful ambassador and advocate for the Broncos over the years, especially in recent seasons as pat has focused on his own battle with Alzheimer’s disease.”
“All of us at the Broncos are behind Annabel and know she’ll face this challenge with courage and determination,” Ellis added.
The Broncos will continue their preparations for the 2018 season when they begin training camp on Saturday July 28th. The team will play its first regular season game on September 9th when they host the Seattle Seahawks.
The Broncos told CBS4 Annabel is in her 60s but didn’t share what her birthdate is.