On Saturday, October 2, 2010, Denver was treated to a world class event at the Jet Set Fashion Show at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center. Not only were there movie stars, musical and sports legends, world class models and politicians, there where was a celebration of 26 guest models who happen to have development disabilities.
Sure, the 1,200 person event was visible enough to get Entertainment Tonight to run a feature about it, but the real stars were the 26 brilliant and beautiful guest models representing the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.
Two of the models present were recipients of the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Awards: the 2009 award recipient, the irrepressible Ms. DeOndra Dixon, and 2010 award recipient, the inspirational Ms. Karen Gaffney. Timothy P. Shriver was the recipient of this year’s Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award and we were all honored and thrilled that music Icon Quincy Jones was there in person to present the award.
The second annual event in Denver with the theme “Be Beautiful, Be Yourself” was targeted to raise money for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, benefiting the Linda Crnic Institute for Down syndrome at the Anschutz Medical Campus. Michelle Sie Whitten, Executive Director of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation said that “since our last fashion show, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation has supported critical and groundbreaking research, launched three service programs, two conferences, and in December of this year, we will co-host the first Down syndrome registry and bio-bank summit with the National Institutes of Health.”
Jamie Foxx and his sister were busy enjoying the festivities, and DeOndra said “she was thrilled and honored to be in Denver once again to be a part of this magical night.” Jamie explained that his little sister moved in with him eight years ago – his initial goal was to spend time with her and help her feel that she can accomplish anything, With his first hand knowledge of Downs Syndrome, he said he is “honored to be a spokesperson for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.”
As part of the evening’s events, nationally renowned auctioneer and philanthropist Peter Kudla got up on the runway to help get things moving. Just a few of the live auction items included a golf trip with former #1 golfer in the world David Duval, travel and premium tickets to the 53rd Grammy Awards, travel and tickets to the American Idol finale, travel and two first level tickets to the Super Bowl XLV, and a three-night stay in Louisville, KY to experience the Kentucky Derby in style with a private jet and two all-access tickets.
Last year, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation was proud to establish the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award. Michelle Sie Whitten, Executive Director of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation said that “they were humbled and thrilled that Quincy was in Denver to receive the inaugural Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award last year.” She continued to say that “this year, the event has already surpassed even their wildest expectations.”
Down Syndrome is the most frequent chromosomal disorder in the United States accounting for 1 in 733 live births. There are more than 400,000 people in the US and millions worldwide with the condition. Despite the frequency, it is the least funded genetic condition by the National Institutes of Health. In 2008 Down Syndrome accounted for just 0.0006 of its $28 billion budget.
Established in 2009, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s primary focus is to support the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome (The Linda Crnic Institute). The Linda Crnic Institute is the first organization in the US with the mission to eradicate the medical and cognitive ill effects associated with Down Syndrome through basic and clinical research and through clinical care. The Linda Crnic Institute incorporates scientific partners both locally and globally, with headquarters at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Colorado.
The Anna and John J. Sie Foundationis a catalyst for improving the lives of people with Down Syndrome. The foundation is one of the leaders in funding programs and organizations that are dedicated to research, education, clinical care, and advocacy for people with Down Syndrome.
In just three years, the foundation has committed more than $36 million in grants and endowments, including funding for the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome that will fully integrate the highest quality basic, translational and clinical research, clinical trials, therapeutic development, medical care, education and advocacy.
With the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation commitment of $34 million, the Institute will be a global beacon for research and care. it will be the first national organization to comprehensively engage in basic research, clinical research and clinical care. It will integrate the highest quality basic, translational and clinical research, clinical trials, therapeutic development, medical care, education and advocacy.
The inspiration for the establishment of the Linda Crnic Institute is Sophia Kay Whitten, the granddaughter of Anna and John J. Sie who happens to have Down Syndrome.