Volunteers Briana Carey, Rochel Creenlaw, Abigail Frary, Morgan and Loren Parrish. Photos by Glory Weisberg
By Glory Weisberg
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is out to change the lives of millions of people with Down syndrome. In its brief few years it is already changing the way we look at this population and their challenges.
The massive effort is helping those with Down syndrome gain respect, longevity and a better quality of life. Many of these advances are supported by the local Linda Crnic Institute — the only one of its kind, that focuses on research and medical care. The foundation has raised $2.5 million with help from the annual Be Beautiful, Be Yourself Fashion Show, a not-to-miss benefit attracting more than 1,000 people each year.
And it all started with foundation Executive Director, Michelle Sie Whitten, daughter of John and Anna Sie of Cherry Hills Village. Her daughter Sophie Whitten has Down syndrome and an enticing personality.
Ricki Rest chaired the Sept. 28 event, proudly showing off “her” Chase Perry, an adorable golden haired child who has Down syndrome. Working with Ricki were last year’s chairwoman, Nancy Sevo, as well as Debra McKenney, Kay Burke, Marilyn Spinner, Jay Mills, Tomago Collins, Quinn Washington, Elaine Walsh and Mary Tuten.
Among the local luminaries on the fashion ramp and in the audience were Larry and Carol Mizel, David and Bonnie Mandarich, Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake and Sunny and Norm Brownstein.
Ricki Rest, Nancy Sevo and Sunny Brownstein
Local furniture mogul Jake Jabs was seen schmoozing with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, and they were joined by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
There are 400,000 people in the U.S. with Down syndrome and with civilians, politicians and lobbyists in the Sheraton Hotel Denver ballroom you can bet this was the place to be. It’s also the place to be when another such benefit for this nonprofit is held in Washington, D.C. each year.
Or as our governor said, “Beauty starts from the inside and finally gets out. We need significantly more education and researchers. In Colorado we made the month of March Down Syndrome Month and March 21 Down Syndrome Day and we want to make it go nationally.”
In the spotlight were Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award winner and HLN news anchor, Kyra Phillips. Inaugural recipient, DeOndra Dixon presented the second Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award to Tim Harris. He was born in 1986 with Down syndrome and now has a degree in food service and is owner of the Albuquerque restaurant Tim’s Place. The gala was emceed by Channel 9 TV news anchor, Kim Christiansen.
Among guest models paired with Down syndrome models on the fashion runway, were Eric Dickerson, David Duval, Ken Faried, Beverly Johnson, Meg Kardos, Ellen Koski, Ty Lawson, Todd Park Mohr, Caitlin Quisenberry and John Roberts, also a nationally known TV anchor, married to Kyra Phillips.
For more information visit globaldownsyndrome.org.
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Brett, Casey and Chase Perry
Sophie Whitten, all dolled up for her fashion walk
Gov. John Hickenlooper and Jake Jabs
Larry Mizel, David Mandarich, Ernie Blake and Norm Brownstein
Glen Jones and Jeffery Reiss
Denver Nuggets basketball player Ken Faried
Michelle Whitten, John McGinley, Kyra Phillips and Anna and John Sie
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