Not every charity has a happy inspiration, but Redskins’ defensive end Stephen Bowen would like to provide peace to families that might not otherwise be so fortunate.
It was June 2011, shortly before signing with the Redskins, that Bowen and his wife Tiffany gave birth to twin boys, Stephen Jr. and Skyler.
The boys were born prematurely at just 24 weeks, and entered immediately into the fight of their young lives.
Weeks later, Skyler developed an infection that his underdeveloped immune system was unable to fight, and he passed away.
Understanding how fortunate they were cover the medical and funeral costs of their child, Stephen and Tiffany developed a plan to turn their loss into a saving grace for others.
That was the inspiration behind the Skyler’s Gift Foundation, which officially launched on Nov. 17, 2012, to coincide with World Prematurity Day.
“We started it last year,” Stephen explained. “What happened to me and my wife we wanted to just do something that would help people out.”
Bowen said the two have partnered with the March of Dimes, which is designed to lend support to families with premature births. Stephen Bowen and his wife want to take it one step further.
“The March of Dimes, they’re all about the health of premature babies. But people don’t talk about the bad side, a lot of people lose their kids,” he explained. “They can’t afford to have a funeral. When you can’t afford to bury your child, they use them as medical waste, or mass cremation. That is very traumatic.
“We try to give people the chance to bury their child, and be at peace with what has happened. We pay for the costs of those things.”
Using the foundation’s website and his celebrity status, Bowen is hoping to spread the word about his foundation to families that find themselves in the same situation.
“We select people that go onto the website of myself or my wife’s. We’ve reach out to so many hospitals, and when need help, they just reach out to us,” Stephen said. “We want to spread out. We’re willing to help anyone in the U.S.”
Bowl-A-Thon Unites Washington Redskins And Dallas Cowboys
It isn’t very often that a cause or player can unite such historic rivals as the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, but Bowen has the clout and history to do so.
Originally an undrafted free agent by the Cowboys in 2006, Stephen Bowen has had success in both cities, including being named a Redskins’ team captain in 2012.
Calling on his current teammates, past teammates and friends around the league, Stephen and Tiffany organized the first ever Bowl-A-Thon to raise money and awareness for the Skyler’s Gift Foundation.
The event will be held at Lucky Strike in Washington D.C. on Sat. May 4 at 6 p.m., and celebrity attendees are scheduled to include Redskins Barry Cofield and Brian Orakpo, Cowboys DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, and Miles Austin, free agent lineman Willie Colon as well as former Hofstra teammate and Saint Marques Colston.
Bowen said the storyline of Redskins and Cowboys coming together sounds strange, but the event is really about friends coming together for a good cause.
“We just want to give people the chance to bowl with some of their favorite players. I’m friends with a lot of guys around the league, and they just want to show support,” Stephen said. “It’s not about competition, it’s just about supporting the event and everyone having a great time.
“We want exposure and we want to raise awareness around the league. We are not pocketing any money. I don’t want anyone to pocket any money. This is just to help the families.”
So what kind of bowling game can we expect out of big Bowen? Well, it depends on the day.
“I’m OK at bowling,” he said with a humble grin. “I’m very inconsistent, so I have my good days and bad days. For the most part, I just like having fun.
“It’s a good thing for everyone to have a great time, it’s just everyone being silly.”
Come on out if you can, but even if not, be sure to support Tiffany and Stephen Bowen with a donation to help support Skyler’s Gift Foundation.