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.
Celebrated actor/musician Jamie Foxx joined a host of celebrities at the nation’s single largest fundraiser for Down syndrome in Denver. Foxx and his sister DeOndra Dixon, who happens to have Down syndrome, joined actors Beau Bridges (Masters of Sex), Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights), John C. McGinley (Scrubs), Terrence Howard (Empire), Jamie Brewer (American Horror Story), Supermodel Beverly Johnson, Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson, players & cheerleaders from the Denver Broncos and Nuggets teams, and several other VIPs as they escorted brilliant and beautiful models with Down syndrome on the runway.
Emceeing the evening’s festivities was EXTRA correspondent and syndicated DAYTIME host Jerry Penacoli and Kim Christiansen of Denver’s 9News. Other stars who have supported the gala include Quincy Jones, Alec Baldwin, Helen Hunt, Laura Dern, Kyra Phillips, Tim Shriver, Patrick Kennedy, and Jeff Probst, among many others.
The 7th annual “Be Beautiful Be Yourself” fashion show gala is a fundraiser for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, benefitting the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome on the Anschutz Medical Campus and the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado. 1,300 attendees enjoyed dinner, a star-studded fashion show, red carpet interviews, and a live auction boasting a trip to the Super Bowl, an OMEGA Ryder Experience, a Viennese Getaway and many more.
Each year, Global presents the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award to an individual who has tirelessly advocated for the rights of the differently-abled. This year’s recipient was American Horror Story actress and Down syndrome self-advocate, Jamie Brewer. Past self-advocate award recipients include Luke Zimmerman, Karen Gaffney, Tim Harris, Sujett Desai, and Brad Hennefer. And other past award recipients have included Quincy Jones, Jamie Foxx, John C. McGinley, Beverly Johnson, Kyra Phillips, Tim Shriver, and Patrick Kennedy.
Global’s self-advocates who strutted their stuff on the runway included: 2015 Ambassador Clarissa Capuano, Jamie Foxx’s sister, aspiring dancer and former Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy recipient DeOndra Dixon, aspiring model and internet sensation Gigi Cunningham, and 18-year-old Devon Adelman who attended First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Beating the Odds” summit at the White House earlier this year, among several others.
Down syndrome is the least-funded genetic condition by the National Institutes of Health. The Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, the largest single fundraiser benefiting people with Down syndrome, aims to change this statistic. Last year’s event raised $1.9 million, and the funds help support the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the first academic home focused on improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research and medical care.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s “Be Beautiful Be Yourself” fashion show is the single largest fundraiser for Down syndrome in the nation. Held annually each October in observation of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, the celebrity gala attracts over 1,200 guests each year, and has raised nearly $10M since launching six years ago. For additional information, visit www.BeBeautifulBeYourself.org.
Follow Global Down Syndrome Foundation on Facebook & Twitter @GDSFoundation.
The recurring theme from family and friends of people with Down Syndrome is that they are a special gift. They exist on such an uninhibited and happy plane that they bring so much joy to those around them. As the family of Global Down Syndrome Foundation Ambassador Steven Dulcie put it, “Steven is the silver lining in a day.”
The fun atmosphere was prevalent again this year at the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show as celebrities and models vamped on the runway to wild applause and cheers from the 1,200 well-heeled guests.
Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, whose sister is Global Ambassador DeOndra Dixon (who regularly upstages Jamie everywhere from the Grammy Awards to video shoots) was on hand again this year to promote the cause, along with other well known supporters such as Helen Hunt, Laura Dern, John C McGinley, Alec Baldwin, golfer David Duval, and several other sports and entertainment figures.
Longtime supporter and supermodel Beverly Johnson, whose niece Natalie Fuller has Down Syndrome, received the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award, and so did advocate Brad Hennefer.
Kim Christiansen returned as extraordinary emcee, with additional remarks by force of nature Michelle Sie Whitten (executive director of Global), Governor John Hickenlooper, actor John C McGinley and Event Chairs Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake. Auctioneer Jim Nye wratched up bids on some incredible live auction packages, which included not only a trip to the Superbowl, but a ride on the Broncos plane to get there; and a really nice watch from Vacheron Constantin and Hyde Park but the winner also gets to travel to Geneva, Switzerland to tour the workshop.
The real stars of the show, as they are every year and every day, were the beautiful models in the Be Beautiful Be Yourself fashion show. The BBBY Fashion Show is the largest fundraiser for Down syndrome in the nation and has raised more than $7.6 million for Down syndrome research, medical care, advocacy and education, plus creating unprecedented awareness regarding the shocking disparity of funding for people with Down syndrome, while successfully emphasizing their abilities.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation provides fundraising, education, awareness and government advocacy for the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome.
Tim Harris owns his own restaurant in New Mexico, where lots of great food, atmosphere and hugs abound. He has a great girlfriend, was homecoming king at his high school, lots of friends, and, as more than 1,400 guests could attest to, can vamp on the runway almost as good as DeOndra Dixon.
Tim, on hand at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation “Be Beautiful Be Yourself 2013” event, was like a magnet of sunshine and jovial camaraderie as he accepted the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award, telling the enthusiastic crowd at the Sheraton Downtown Denver, “I’m following my dream….are you??”
Tim, who by the way was born with Down Syndrome, was part of an off-the-charts energetic program that has become one of the gems of Denver, and Washington DC’s, philanthropic circuit. Award-winning national journalist Kyra Phillips also accepted a Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award, and the 2013 Down Syndrome Ambassadors, their friends and family all took to the runway for a fashion show.
Celebrities such as model Beverly Johnson, NFL star Eric Dickerson, actor John McGinley, Todd Park Mohr of Bighead Todd and the Monsters (who later performed), Nuggets first round draft pick Kenneth Faried, Fox News’ John Roberts and several others were dwarfed by the magnetism and exuberance from the 2013 Ambassadors: Sophia Kay Whitten, Chase Turner Perry, Katherine Vollbracht Winfield, DeOndra Dixon and Samantha Marcia Stevens. Adding further effervescence to the runway were models Sofia Aarestad, Hayden Boisseaux, Opheal Bordeaux, Beth Burczyk, Tait Graham Davis, Natalie MIchelle Fuller, Kennedy Garcia, Stephen Lawson, Ben Levine, Rafi Mednick, Lexi Puga, Alexandra Shankle, Kristina Sisneros and Katie Smith.
Global Executive Director Michelle Sie Whitten could hardly contain her excitement again this year for all the support her cause received from her parents, Anna and John Sie, event chair Ricki Rest and A-list supporters from around the region.
The 5th anniversary show was a fundraiser for the Linda Crnic Institute and the Sie Center for Down Syndrome. For more information, visit GlobalDownSyndrome.org. And look inside yourself to see if YOU are following your dream.