There's something very special about the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and it was clearly on display at the Denver BE BEAUTIFUL BE YOURSELF Fashion Show. Perhaps it's because of effusive and focused energy of its founder, Michelle Sie Whitten, the electric smile of Jamie Fox escorting his two young daughters down the red carpet and sharing delightful stories about sister, DeOndra Dixon or the guests themselves. I asked Alec Baldwin about what made this night's event different than all others.
"Well Jamie, you know. His sister, DeOndra, has Down Syndrome and so it's family. We have our passions, things that strike home. My mother's a breast cancer survivor so that's a big cause for me, every family has their thing."
"So family is the great connector?"
"Yes, I think that's what makes it special, that's what grounds it and makes you want to be a part of it."
For Helen Hunt it was,"I wanted to be a part of something that supports the civil rights of all people, especially those with different abilities." Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award recipient, supermodel Beverly Johnson has a niece with Down Syndrome and actor John C McGinley's daughter was born with the condition and everywhere I turned I heard stories of how so many lives have been enriched by a loved one with Down Syndrome; how much joy they bring to those who know them.
Laura Dern with Alexandra Shankle, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Kristopher Lewis Photography
John C McGinley spoke of the work the Global Down Syndrome Foundation is doing and that it extends beyond quality of life, equality and advocacy, there is a focus on science and research. Indeed, Global supports the Linda Crinic Institute for Down Syndrome with fundraising, education and research to help eradicate the medical and cognitive ill-effects associated with Down Syndrome. Life-changing research is being done through the Alzheimer's Disease-Down Syndrome Research Program, through challenge grants to national and international scientists to study sleep apnea, auto-immune disorders and leukemia. World-class medical care is provided as well through the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children's Hospital Colorado, and so much more.
Kenneth Faried with Brooklyn Gilhooly, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Kristopher Lewis Photography
There was such a spirit of joy, of connectedness and hope at the Be Beautiful, Be Yourself Fashion Show. The outpouring of love was reflected in an outpouring of support as a wonderfully executed live and lively auction brought out cheerful givers, open hearts and open pocketbooks. But the highlight of the evening was definitely the fashion show featuring beautiful young people who happen to have a condition called Down Syndrome. Oscar winners Helen Hunt and Jamie Foxx, Oscar-nominee, Laura Dern, Emmy-winning Alec Baldwin, John C McGinley, Beverly Johnson, Denver Nuggets' JaVale McGee, Arron Affalo, and Kenneth Faried, Broncos Malik Jackson, Ben Garland, Britton Colquitt and Brandon McManus and pro-golfer David Duval all brought a sense of purpose and delight to the event. Wonderful to watch these celebrity models escort the real stars down the runway, strutting and beaming and blowing kisses with sweet triumph.
Alec Baldwin and DeOndra Dixon, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Kristopher Lewis Photography
Generosity, cheerfulness and giving over to the best in ourselves and in one another; that's what was on parade that night. Joy!