UIndy Alum starts charity to help families dealing with breast cancer

University of  Indianapolis alum Colin Bowles raced with the 35 members of his team in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, on April 16 in Indianapolis. The team was made up of family and friends. They raced in memory of his mother Beth Bowles who died of breast cancer a year and a half ago. That day also marked the start of My Eyes Are Up Here, a
nonprofit organization Bowles and his family started in honor of his mother.

“Well [when my mother died] a year and a half ago, I knew I wanted to do something to honor her, but I didn’t know what to do,” Bowles said. “I didn’t want it to be something that was half-a–ed …  I wanted all in.”

Bowles said he was busy with school and work, so his plan got pushed to the back of his mind. Then in December, his girlfriend was killed in a car accident, and he realized that now was a good time to start a charity to honor his mother.

“When something like that [his girlfriend’s death] happens, you kind of prioritize things in life,”  Bowles said. “And you kind of focus on something that you want to do, and that’s what you want to attack. And this is what I did, so it’s been since there.”

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Colin Bowles’ team raced at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on April 16. The date also marked the launch date of his charity, My Eyes Are Up Here, which he started with his family, in honor of his mother. Photo contributed by Colin Bowles

Bowles began by thinking about what he wanted to do and decided he wanted to do something big.

“We set the April launch date because I don’t want it to be something I just throw out,” Bowles said. “You see all these GoFundMes on Facebook, and I didn’t want it to be something like that. I wanted it to be thought out and [for] us be organized, [for] my family [to] be on board. We have all these different things. So it took us a while to get all of that situated, and we hit our April launch date and that’s been awesome.”

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure marked their launch, when all of their merchandise went on sale and they began actively raising money.  Bowles said My Eyes Are Up Here is partnered with the Indiana Women in Need Foundation.  According to its website, at iwinfoundation.org,  it is a nonprofit organization that supports women in Indiana battling breast cancer by helping to relieve
some of their emotional, physical and financial burdens.

When Bowles began doing research in February, he said he found I.W.I.N. and contacted the organization about what he planned to do. Bowles said Nancy Shepard, founder and executive director of  I.W.I.N., called him within 10 minutes of receiving his message.

“It’s not everyday that the CEO of an organization calls you,” he said. “And we talked, and we shared ideas, and we’ve been doing that [since then]. And we kind of helped each other out….  And it’s just kind of cool that we found an organization in Indy that has the same goals as us.”

Bowles said that with My Eyes Are Up Here, he wants to offer support for families who are dealing with what his family had to.  He said his mother’s battle with breast cancer was very aggressive, especially while she was going through chemotherapy.

“You can tell when someone goes through that, they just want to be a mom,” Bowles said. “And she couldn’t do that, and that [is] what really hurt her. So the goal of My Eyes Are Up Here is to take burdens away from families.”

Because My Eyes Are Up Here is to honor Bowles’ mother, he has worked with his family to set it up. Bowles said he and his sister have worked on the organization, but his father and brother have been very supportive. As for the name, My Eyes
Are Up Here, Bowles said they wanted to do something fun that would grab people’s attention.

“We didn’t want to do the Beth Bowles foundation,” Bowles said. “We wanted to do something fun. And we wanted
to have merchandise, per se, that people would want to wear, not take to Goodwill after they did a walk or something like this. That’s why we have boob shirts… and My Eyes Are Up Here and stuff like that…. It’s kind of to grab people’s attention.”

Bowles said they are selling wristbands and shirts, with all of the proceeds going to I.W.I.N. He estimates they raised about $300 just on April 16.

He said he hopes to have a silent auction in the future to raise more money, but currently My Eyes Are Up Here merchandise is available on Bowles’ website, colinbowles.com.