This past weekend, Denver was all a buzz as the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) rang in its 10th Anniversary raising an outstanding $2.4 million, bringing the event’s total raised over the past decade to over $18 million. As the largest fundraiser for Down syndrome in the world, the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show supports life-saving and transformative medical care and research. The marquee event welcomed over 1,400 guests from 23 states and 9 countries to the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.
The signature fashion show featuring models with Down syndrome and their celebrity escorts included large, commemorative send-off sparklers and light-up wrist bands. The impressive celebrity lineup included: award-winning actors Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Renner, Heather Graham, Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, and John C. McGinley; supermodel Amanda Booth; Denver Bronco Cheerleaders Jozie, McKenna, and Caitlynn; Miss Colorado Ellery Jones; Soccer Player Sam Cronin; and TV personalities Kim Christiansen and Tom Green.
“What Global is doing for people with Down syndrome, including my sister DeOndra, is amazing – the science, the medical care and the important awareness,” said Foxx, who has been a dedicated supporter of Global from the start. “ And you know, this is just the beginning – what we’re going to accomplish in the next ten years will be so important as our loved ones with Down syndrome age.”
The Denver Broncos showed up with major support from Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, quarterback Case Keenum, placekicker Brandon McManus, running back Phillip Lindsay, safety Justin Simmons, and tight end Jeff Heuerman. This year, Global had 27 self-advocate models, including the 2018 Ambassador Sam Levin, as well as the return of past Ambassadors: Chase Turner Perry, Sophia Kay Whitten, Katherine Vollbracht Winfield, Clarissa Capuano, Louis Rotella IV, and Marcus Sikora.Actors Colin Farrell and Zack Gottsagen [RC1] received Global’s prestigious Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award (Q Award) to standing ovations. In his acceptance speech Gottsagen said, “People with disabilities need to work together with our friends for inclusion and equal opportunities. So don’t forget to vote! I have voted in every election since I was 18 years old.” He then decided to start the catwalk early and while receiving his Q Award he was surprised by friends Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson who danced down the runway with him.
An impromptu live auction saw Jamie Foxx, Jeremy Renner, Colin Farrell, Von Miller and John C. McGinley jump on stage and auction off items from Von Miller’s jacket to Jeremy Renner’s exclusive Marvel premier tickets and Colin Farrell’s exclusive Dumbo premier extravaganza.
Kacey Bingham and Brittany Bowlen served as the 2018 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show chairs, carrying on the legacy of their mothers Kay Burke and Annabel Bowlen, who have been involved with Global since its inception. In support of the 10th Anniversary, past event chairs showed up in spades including Peter Kudla, Anna and John J. Sie, Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake, Ricki Rest, and Nancy Sevo.Entering its 10th year, Global is thriving. The millions raised at the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show every year help fund Global’s world-class and unprecedented Down syndrome research and medical care which is helping to increase lifespan and quality of life of people with the condition.
“On our 10th Anniversary, we are so grateful to our dedicated medical professionals at the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado, our brilliant scientists at the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome on the Anschutz Medical Campus, our Down syndrome partner organizations, generous sponsors, influential celebrities, amazing self-advocates and families, and our hardworking team!” said Global President and CEO Michelle Sie Whitten.
Global’s recent lobbying efforts to Congress and outreach to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) resulted in the first significant increase of NIH Down syndrome research funding in nearly 20 years, resulting from $35 million in 2017, to $58 million in 2018, to 98 million in 2019. Additionally, Global just opened its new Cherry Creek headquarters, which includes top-notch office facilities and a future education center of excellence supported by a generous grant from The Salah Foundation.The building will be a home for people with Down syndrome and their families, as well as a destination for inclusion, inspiration, and achievement for everyone. “Together, we are transforming and saving lives.
Missed the event? It’s not too late to get involved! See photos from the event and read all the top media coverage.
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
Photo credit: Tom Cooper/Getty Images for Global Down Syndrome Foundation