With $400,000, you can buy a 1,200-square-foot house in Key Largo, four Tesla Model S cars, three duct-taped banana pieces of art from Art Basel and 400 Disney Platinum Plus Annual Passes.
But for Todd and Kim Bowers, that whopping dollar amount was used to fund their love for their UCF Knights.
“If you could look around this room, you’d say there’s $100,000 worth of stuff just on these walls,” Todd, 64, said about his home office, replete with all the UCF gear you could only dream of: an autographed Daunte Culpepper jersey, bowl game tickets, a basketball signed by UCF’s first NCAA Tournament team and even a letter from Athletic Director Danny White thanking him for his service to UCF.
The couple met at Florida Technological University in late 1974 and got married five years later. They will celebrate their 41 year anniversary this year and have two kids, a dog and over four decades of UCF pride to show for it.
Finding love in a hopeless place
Like any other classic love story, the two met at a fraternity party.
Todd was living in what was the Sigma Chi fraternity house at the time and the chapter threw a casino-themed party. Kim was a sister in Tri Delta who attended the party.
“She sat down next to me, she started talking to me, and next thing I know she was asking me to go on her sorority weekend with her,” Todd said.
What he didn’t know at the time was that it was all a setup.
Kim, 65, was on the hunt for the perfect date to go to “Delta Weekend” with her — she was torn between asking two guys. Todd was one of them.
“I go to the Sigma Chi party and worked up the nerve and I asked this cute guy named Todd to go to the Delta Weekend with me,” she said.
He said yes. He then asked her to go to the Sigma Chi Sweetheart Ball with him. She said yes. That was their first date.
They’ve been together ever since.
Where it all began
Not only have they been together since then, they have attended almost every UCF football and men’s basketball game — and softball and baseball and women’s basketball and soccer.
The couple’s favorite rival was Rollins College. Whenever the Golden Knights, at the time, would play against the Winter Park team, their world stopped.
So much that on Feb. 20, 1987, Todd was at a UCF versus Rollins College basketball game while Kim was in the hospital delivering their oldest son, Chris.
“I’ve given him grief for years about that,” Kim said with a smirk on her face.
Todd went to his first UCF versus Rollins basketball game in the mid- to late-70s, he said. Rollins was a top-ranked Division II team and nobody had ever heard of FTU.
In consecutive games, FTU was able to upset both Rollins and Florida Southern College. This is when Todd realized he loved his school.
“I was at both of those games and I was like, ‘This is unbelievable,’” he said. “That was when I said, ‘You know, this university experience is something pretty special.”
This was about 45 years ago. Todd and Kim have been attending games together all these years.
“If you’re gonna go out with Todd Bowers, you gotta go to the games,” Kim said.
UCF fans for life
When asked why he stayed around for so long, Todd had a simple answer:
“I love UCF. I love basketball.”
Todd and Kim have kept the same season ticket seats for men’s basketball games across the three arenas the Knights have played at — fourth row, on the aisle, behind the bench.
When asked how long Todd had been attending football games, he, again, had a simple answer:
“Well when did they start playing?”
And it’s not a solo effort. They still attend games with the friends they made in college.
Tom Bailey, a good and longtime friend of the couple, said they are definitely candidates for the best UCF fans ever.
“You couldn’t ask for more loyal fans than the Bowers,” he said on Facebook. “Both still carry the torch of hatred of our original rival, Rollins, and of course Cow U.”
UCF’s inaugural season was in 1979 under head coach Don Jonas. That’s over 40 years of Knights football. They even purchased bowl game tickets for games they weren’t able to attend.
“I’ve probably spent thousands of dollars on tickets to games I’ve never even been to,” Todd said. “I want my name on the list — not just to be on the list. I want to feel like I’m part of this win, I’m part of this program.”
The Bowers definitely made themselves a part of the program.
Carrying the torch
As a student, Kim played on the UCF women’s tennis team and became the director of the intramural sports department by the time she was a senior.
“Sports has just always been, even while I was still on campus, a big deal,” she said.
Before retiring, Kim was a teacher for 12 years, worked as an athletic director at a Catholic middle school for six years and was the volleyball coach at Boone High School for six years.
Todd is currently the president of the Learning Institute for Elders at UCF and a member of the UCF College of Business Finance Advisory Board. He retired from SunTrust Bank in 2014 — a company he has been with since becoming a part-time teller while in school.
He earned several achievement awards from the university over his decades of service, including the Alumni Association’s Service to UCF Award in 2002 and landing a spot in the College of Business Hall of Fame in 2000.
When asked why Todd gives back to the UCF community so much, he, again, had a simple answer:
“Because I got so much.”
But there’s more to it:
“When I was at that university, I got the degree that was going to give me a career. I met the woman who I would live the rest of my life with,” Todd said. “I can’t think of what our life would have been like If I did go somewhere else or if my wife would have gone somewhere else.
“As much as I’ve given, I’ve gotten 100 times more.”
Daniella Medina is a contributing writer for Black and Gold Banneret. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.