GLOBAL DOWN SYNDROME FOUNDATION RAISES CRUCIAL AWARENESS AND $2.5M
Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) raised a record breaking $2.5 million at their Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, held at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel recently. Now in its 11th year, Global’s marquee event is the largest fundraiser for Down syndrome in the world, and has now raised a cumulative $20 million.
At the beginning of the night, music icon and legend Quincy Jones, award-winning actors Jamie Foxx, Henry Winkler, Eric Dane, and John C. McGinley, NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Davis, Colorado Rapids player Kellyn Acosta, R&B musicians Shamari and Ronnie DeVoe, Instagram influencer Mikaela Hoover, and Global Ambassador DeOndra Dixon hit the red carpet while highlighting the alarming disparity of federal Down syndrome research funding.
“The Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show is important for many reasons,” said organisers. “Events like this call so much needed attention to the research and medical care needed for the Down syndrome community, and that’s why I’m here tonight to support this wonderful cause.”
Later in the evening, 2019 Global Ambassador Charlotte Fonfara-LaRose, Miss Colorado Monica Thompson, and Denver Broncos cheerleaders Jozie, McKenna, and Alexandria joined the line-up and rocked the runway, which featured 22 brilliant models who happen to have Down syndrome. Two models, Letizia Napoleone and Angelina Magdalene hailed all the way from England and India respectively.
Global was honoured to have Quincy Jones in person to help present his namesake awards, the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Awards (Q-Award), to supermodel Amanda Booth and TV star and entrepreneur Megan Bomgaars. Booth, who is also a mother to Micah who happens to have Down syndrome said, “How fortunate am I to have been given such an incredible platform to have my thoughts be heard, and to have my work be validated and recognized. That’s really all I am hoping for, by showing up with my son and demanding that he be on the covers of magazines, and star in commercials. If Down syndrome is recognizable, then it will be familiar, and when something is familiar it is welcome.”
Bomgaars, upon receiving her award, shared an inspirational message, “Since my first Global fashion show, I have really grown as an advocate. I started to really understand that my voice, that our voice, had the power to change the world.”
“This year was a banner year for Global,” says Michelle Sie Whitten, President & CEO of the Global. “With support from our Congressional Champions and leadership at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), we have successfully advocated for a near-tripling of the federal government’s research budget benefitting people with Down syndrome. We are serving over 1,800 pediatric patients from 28 states and 10 countries, while also working on adult care. We are also proud that thefilm starring our Q-Award winner Zack Gottsagen, The Peanut Butter Falcon, which we executive produced, is now getting Oscar buzz!”
Dr. Joaquín Espinosa, Executive Director of the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome on the Anschutz Medical Campus, was also effusive, “We are grateful for NIH’s support of our research, allowing us to understand trisomy 21 in much greater detail and to conduct clinical trials of potential treatments for comorbidities in Down syndrome. Global’s partnership and Michelle Sie Whitten’s leadership have been instrumental in securing funding for Down syndrome research that will undoubtedly lead to better health outcomes in people with trisomy 21.”
Another highlight of the evening was a surprise announcement made by Noreen Salah Burpee, Executive Director of the Salah Foundation, and delivered by 9News emcees Kim Christiansen and Tom Green. The Salah Foundation matched $75,000 during the live auction that will go to a much-needed Computer Training Class at Global’s new Education Center that was made possible by a transformative $1 million gift from Salah Foundation in 2017.
Global President and CEO Michelle Sie Whitten and her husband Tom Whitten proudly served as the 2019 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show chairs. Past event chairs include Kacey Bingham and Brittany Bowlen, Peter Kudla, Anna and John J. Sie, Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake, Ricki Rest, and Nancy Sevo. Other notables in attendance included past Global Ambassadors Chase Turner Perry, Sophia Kay Whitten, Louis Rotella IV, Markus Sikora, and Clarissa Capuano; and past Q-Award winner Tim Harris.
Proceeds from Global’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show help underwrite life-changing and life-saving research and medical care at Global’s affiliates – the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center, both at the Anschutz Medical Campus, and the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado. The fashion show would not be possible without the generosity of Global’s Leadership circle, sponsors, Ambassadors, Q-Awardees, models, Down syndrome partner organizations, celebrities, self-advocates and families.
To learn more about the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show or to donate, visit bebeautifulbeyourself.org
To learn more about the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, visit www.globaldownsyndrome.org
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