Former BBBY Chair Nancy Sevo, John and Anna Sie, Michelle Sie Whitten, Sophia Whitten and 2018 Ambassador Sam Levin. Photos by Scottie Iverson
Mike and Michelle Fries opened their stunning Denver Country Club digs to a packed audience that could have been the Be Beautiful Be Yourself (BBBY) event itself. The cuisine was by Three Tomatoes Catering and Yours Truly Cupcake. Master of ceremonies was Fox31 producer Annalisa Blanco. The loyal supporters committed an astounding $250,000 in table and model sponsorships. Momentum was built by such enthusiastic fundraisers as Peter Kudla, who chaired the 2017 event and helped raise $2.6 million. This year’s goal is $2.8 million.
One of the underlying themes of this kickoff was building legacies. “The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree” certainly applies here. Workaholic Michelle Sie Whitten is the daughter of John and Anna Sie, with them a co-founder, and serves as CEO of Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) located in its new headquarters in Cherry Creek. BBBY Chair Kacey Bingham is the daughter of community leader Kay Burke and BBBY Chair Brittany Bowlen is the daughter of Annabel Bowlen who has been an advocate for several nonprofits. Both moms have been supporters of Global since the beginning. What is also amazing is that past chairs and Leadership Circle members continue to attend and support. In addition to the Sie, Whitten and Fries families – Laura Barton and Willy Matthews, Peter Kudla, Nancy Sevo, Ricki and Dave Rest, Cookie Gold, Casey Perry, Ted and Jan Harms, Jay Mills and Bonnie Mandarich were on hand.
Cherry Hills Villagers Alan and Anna Levin – proud grandparents of Ambassador Sam
Another heartwarming story is that of 2018 Ambassador Sam Levin, a triplet, is the boyfriend of Sophia Whitten. “When I look around,” said Michelle Sie Whitten of the attendees, “I see family.”
Much was emphasized about the 37 different research labs from Denver to Boulder and the best scientists in the world focusing on Down syndrome – with accolades to Dr. Blumenthal, Dr. Potter and Dr. Espinosa. “There is nothing like it on the face of the earth,” said the esteemed Dr. Joaquin Espinosa. “Every day we can choose to be in fear or be in love, with an open mind, an open heart and become generous to make the world a better place. There is lots of love at Global and we have a lot of loving ahead of us. There is a major source of trust in this community at our sold-out event.” Be Beautiful Be Yourself, the largest fundraiser for Down syndrome in the world is slated for Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Sheraton Downtown Denver beginning with the VIP Reception at 5 p.m. Hollywood and sports celebrities show up to escort the beautiful and brilliant models with Down syndrome on the runway. The Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy award will be presented to Golden Globe winner Colin Farrell and actor Zack Gottshagen. Proceeds allow Global to provide life-saving, world-class medical care to over 1,500 children with Down syndrome from 28 states and 10 countries. Sponsorships and reservations are available: 303-468-2481, firstname.lastname@example.org or globaldownsyndrome.org.
Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome Director Emeritus Dr. Tom Blumenthal, former BBBY Chair Peter Kudla, loyal supporter Edie Marks, Crnic Institute Executive Director Dr. Joaquin Espinosa
Global Ambassador Sam Levin with his parents Allison and Brian Levin
Adorable model Clarissa Capuano gave a sneak peek of the celebrity-infused runway fashion show – a highlight of BBBY
Kickoff hosts Mike and Michelle Fries
Be Beautiful Be Yourself Event Chairs Brittany Bowlen and Kacey Bingham
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