A nonprofit organization plans to recreate the 1960s Batman series’ Stately Wayne Manor in south Phoenix, just a mile away from their current location at Reliance Broadway.
The Colten Cowell Foundation became a nonprofit organization in 2014 which provides a batman experience to children battling life threatening illnesses and disabilities.
“We’re just kind of bursting at the seams,” said Erika Cowell, the co-founder and executive director of the foundation. “The complex is old, when we take the kids for the rides around the complex, you know there’s other cars in the parking lot.”
The current Colten Cowell Foundation is a 5,000-square-foot storage building inside an industrial center and was originally just used as storage for Charles Keller, the founder of the organization’s car collection.
The Colten Cowell Foundation has now purchased 5 acres of land and will be building a 28,000-square-foot facility scheduled to break ground in the spring of 2019 and become fully functional a year after that in 2020.
Keller purchased a Batmobile off of Craigslist in Aril of 2009 for him and his kids to drive around. He then decided that he could be doing something more with the Batmobile.
Colten Cowell and Keller met for the first and last time in December of 2009 when Colten was sent home from the hospital on hospice battling cancer. Colten’s Wish granter got in contact with Keller to arrange to take Colten around on a joy ride in the Batmobile. Colten died just two weeks after that night.
“For us it was just a fun night when we needed it so bad, but for him it was a night that he says made just him realize, well he can’t cure cancer, there’s so totally something more he can be doing with his means,” said Erika Cowell, Colten’s mom and co-founder.
Six years later in 2015 Keller and Erika Cowell came in contact again and Keller asked her if he could name the foundation after Colten. She of course accepted.
At each event the Colten Cowell Foundation hosts, they present the child of the night with two checks. One check is for the charity that nominated them to the foundation and the second is to a charity of their choice.
Other children have been inspired by the Colten Cowell Foundation to start their own nonprofits. One of those children is Campbell Faulkner.
Carrie Faulkner, Campbell’s mom says the Colten Cowell Foundation puts on skit for the children during the show and they talk about how Batman has many amazing things and although having these things is wonderful, giving back to someone else is an even greater gift. “Campbell took those words to heart. It created Campbell’s Crew Cares charity.”
The Colten Cowell Foundation was privately funded before they became a 501(c)(3) in 2014. Since then they have helped over 341 families and children. The organization has donated over $1.3 million to over 175 different charities with the help of the kids.
Tim Mathewson, vice president and architect of the new bat cave and facility says that they have planned to accommodate for children who may have low mobility and include things like the scissor lift to go down the Batman and Robin poles like in the original TV series and get that same experience as their friends and families.
“The challenge is trying to make this fun for, you know a five-year-old kid,” Mathewson said. “Some of these kids that aren’t feeling their best, they’ve only got an hour or two, so we tailor each event strictly to that kid.”