Frank Stephens, the 2016 Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award recipient put it this way: “people who happen to have Down Syndrome are an unusual source of happiness.”

You can say that again. Every year, the Be Beautiful Be Yourself fashion show demonstrates that the models with Down syndrome, their families, the celebrity escorts….pretty much everyone in the room can’t stop smiling. The models strutted and vamped on the runway with no inhibitions and the crowd clapped and shouted wildly. You rarely see the President and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Michelle Sie Whitten, without a 500-watt smile.

True to past years, the event attracted many A-list celebrities, including Jamie Foxx (whose sister DeOndra was one of the models and has been heavily involved in Global for many years), Peyton Manning, Hilary Swank, Queen Latifah, Matt Dillon, model Amanda Booth, Miss Colorado Shannon Patilla, John C McGinley and several local sports stars and Broncos cheerleaders. Bright stars as they are, they all were quickly upstaged by the models, who danced and twirled and soaked up the limelight.

Frank Stephens gave a hilarious speech in accepting his Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award. (He talked about Ashley Manning wanting Peyton to take her on an exotic vacation, but “he only wants to go to Omaha, Omaha, Omaha.”)

Mario Lopez brought his famous dimples to co-emcee with Kim Christiansen this year, and John C McGinley’s daughter Billie Grace showed that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in talent as she gave a quick speech.

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through Research, Medical care, Education and Advocacy. Formally established in 2009, the Foundation’s primary focus is to support the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the first academic home in the United States committed solely to research and medical care for people with Down syndrome. Since Down syndrome is the least-funded genetic condition in the United States, fundraising and government advocacy to correct the alarming disparity of national funding for people with Down syndrome is a major goal.