Right before Stephen Bowen signed up as a defensive end with the Redskins, tragedy struck his family.
The tragedy changed his family forever -- but it also gave them a way to give back.
Bowen's wife, Tiffany, gave birth to twins four months early: Skyler and Stephen III. Each weighed just a pound and a half. "They were so small, just very fragile," Bowen said.
After 10 days, Skyler took a turn for the worse. His organs began to fail. Time was running out.
"To see my son just floating away ... I knew I'd never have a chance to be the dad I wanted to be," Bowen said.
It's been two years since the Bowens lost their son. And though Skyler's twin, Stephen, and big sister Trinity are as healthy as ever, moving on has been hard.
Healing, they find, has become easier through helping.
They've founded Skyler's Gift, an effort to raise money for families who have lost a child and can't afford a funeral. "Through this he's a gift to all the people this helps," Bowen said. "It's his gift to us."
The Bowens started Skyler's Gift after meeting parents who lost a child and couldn't afford a funeral. The young charity has since provided services for dozens through donations and their annual Bowl-a-thon in May where all the Redskins -- even Coach Shanahan -- come out.
"Literally, this is the worst part of your life, and you really should not be worried about something like paying for the funeral. It's so minor compared to what you're going through," Bowen said.
The effort has helped others cope, all while trying to overcome the pain that still brings the 6'5", 300-pound father to his knees.
"Before every game I talk to my son," Bowen said. "Tell him to give me the strength to work hard for him.
"He fought to the very end so the least I can do is give it my all."
On May 2nd, Skyler’s Gift Foundation will host their 2nd Annual NFL Bowl-A-Thon, at Lucky Strike in Washington, D.C.The event will feature Stephen Bowen as well as other NFL players from various teams around the league.
The Bowl-A-Thon starts at eight in the evening and will feature bowling with NFL lane captains, billiards, open bar, and food. There will also be a silent auction with various sports memorabilia and vacations that everyone can bid on.
Some of last year’s silent auction items were: a Robert Griffin III autographed jersey, a trip to Cancun for two, a GoodFellas signed movie poster and a DeMarcus Ware autographed jersey.
This event is a chance for the community to meet and bowl with NFL players while providing hope and healing for families in need. Please come joins us for a fun night of bowling for a great cause.