Ok - I don't write every blog. Today's blog is written by one of our talented Team Director/ Project Manger's, Tim Mathewson!
Regular readers of this blog will know that we are very fortunate to work with amazing clients on some incredible projects. One of those unique projects is our design for the new headquarters for the Colten Cowell Foundation, founded by Charles Keller. The campus will be located at an un-disclosed location in Gotham City (central Phoenix), but more on that later!
Having been successful in his career, Charles Keller wanted to find a way to give back to the community. Knowing that he cannot cure diseases or develop the latest vaccines, Charles decided to focus on what he knew he could do, make people smile. The mission of the Colten Cowell Foundation is to bring joy to a child or family in distress and Charles brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm into this work. The Colten Cowell Foundation works with local and national charities who nominate a deserving child and their family to have a night filled with fun and adventure. This may not free them of the battle they face fighting their ailment, but it gives the child and their family a few hours of fun and a memory that will last forever. As a way to show the children that giving back can be fun, at the conclusion of the evening the honored child presents over-sized Publisher’s Clearing House-style checks to the nominating charity and another charity of the families choosing so that they can focus on their mission instead of fundraising.
Charles got started on this mission back in 2009. He and his two young boys all shared a love of the 1966 Batman television shows soo much that he decided to purchase a replica Batmobile. Wanting to share this prized possession with others, Charles reached out to local charities with an idea. Knowing that having just one child with a chronic disease can have an emotional and financial effect on the entire family, Charles would show up in the Batmobile with Santa Claus for pictures and rides around the block. This would be a total surprise to the children and provided a few hours of fun, plus a memory that would last forever.
It was at one of these events that Charles’ life would be changed forever. Charles had found out that a 3 year old little boy named Colten Cowell had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Time being of the essence, Charles and Santa paid a visit to Colten and his family to try to give them a happy memory. Charles decided to give Colten’s dad Earl the keys to the Batmobile so that father and son could share in this special memory. When they came around the corner, Colten had a huge smile on his face and gave the sign for more. Even though he was very sick, after several laps, Colten was grinning from ear to ear and Earl was in tears of joy. Charles realized from this experience that this was the work he had been destined to do and he named the foundation in Colten’s memory. Charles continued with this work and was satisfied that he was making a positive difference in these families lives. At another one of these events, Charles met a little boy who refused to go for a ride in the Batmobile unless it was going back to the Batcave. This event put us all on the trajectory that we now find ourselves.
Based on that child’s wish and Charles’ desire to expand the Superhero experience, Charles set forth to construct a replica Batcave based on the 1966 television series using the means and methods at his disposal. With a crack team of tinkerers and craftspeople, Charles did just that in a 5,000 square foot rented warehouse building in central Phoenix. This has been the home of the Colten Cowell Foundation ever since. As of this post, 210 families have been celebrated at what is now called “The Colten Cowell Crime-Fighting Cave.” 439 grants have been awarded to various charities, totaling $716,000. The impact of families and the community at large has been enormous.
These accomplishments alone would be considered a job well-done in and of themselves, but Charles is determined to do more. Two years ago, Charles came to visit Mark Candelaria, who had done the remodel plans for his personal residence, and asked Candelaria Design to head the team in designing a new permanent home for the foundation on a 5 acre parcel of land in Phoenix across the street from Esteban Park. Of course, we jumped at the opportunity as Charles is the type of client we especially love to work with. His two guiding principles for the design were to create a world-class facility that can help more people than the current building. No idea is too far out of the box for Charles if it will improve the experience of the honored guest. This is music to our ears. In addition to administrative offices for the day-to-day operation of the foundation, the building will house the new and improved “Colten Cowell Crime-Fighting Cave”. Many of the features of the cave are Top-Secret, but keep your eye out for the Batmobile, BatCycle, or Batcopter. The designs are almost complete and the ground-breaking on this 32,000 square foot cave will be in the summer of 2016. Check back for future blog posts detailing the designs and updates on the project.
To top this all off, this week Mark and I had the honor of attending the 11th Annual Golden Rule Awards Banquet put on by the Arizona Interfaith Movement where Charles Keller was presented with their 2016 Humanitarian Award. I know first-hand the good work that he and his team do for the community and I am very proud to know him and be able to work on this amazing project. It was a wonderful event showcasing the good that can come from when people from every faith and background come together in peace to make this world a better place.
We are so excited to be a part of this project and endeavor! And stay tuned for opportunities on how the Design and Construction community and anyone else interested can contribute to this legacy project!