Foundation Makes History with Inaugural Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award

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Celebrities Gather in Denver for a One-of-a-Kind Event, Be Beautiful Be Yourself Jet Set Fashion Show, Raising Awareness and Support for Down Syndrome Research and Care

Quincy Jones presents DeOndra Dixon her Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award/ Photo Courtesy JasonG Photographer www.jason-g.com

The turnout and the fact that we grossed $1.35 million shows that people care about our children with Down syndrome and that they believe that all people should have human and civil rights. We couldn't be more grateful to Mr. Jones, DeOndra and everyone who made this possible.

Children with Down syndrome were the center of attention in Denver this past weekend as more than 1,200 people gathered in Denver on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009, to show support and say "It's time!" to increase awareness and fundraising for Down syndrome research, medical care and education. The 2009 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Jet Set Fashion Show also celebrated the extraordinary humanitarian and musical contributions of music icon Quincy Jones as he received the first ever Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award. Jones accepted the award at the event, a fundraiser for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation to benefit the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus. In a surprise moment for the audience, Jones bestowed the Quincy Jones Exceptional Self-Advocate Award on DeOndra Dixon, Jamie Foxx's younger sister, who happens to have Down syndrome. Dixon is a Special Olympic medalist who has won an award for poetry, balances school and a job and is a role model for young people with Down syndrome.

Jones is the international spokesperson for the Institute that aims to significantly improve the lives of people with Down syndrome throughout the world. Jones' decades-long friendship with John J. Sie, founder and CEO of Starz Entertainment, sparked him into action when Sie's granddaughter, Sophia Kay Whitten, was born with Down syndrome.

2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the genetic cause of Down syndrome. The fashion show fundraiser celebrated five decades of advancement for people with Down syndrome as well as highlighted a desperate need for society and government to do more. Singer-songwriter Josh Kelley came out to support the event, captivating the crowd with several songs including the song he penned for his new baby girl, Naleigh.

Actor/comedian Tom Arnold added to the VIP reception while other celebrities including David Duval, Ed McCaffrey, John Lynch, Billy Van Heusen, Delvin Hughley, and Miss Colorado 2009 Katie Layman, escorted guest models with Down syndrome down the runway.

Michelle Sie Whitten, executive director of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation was appreciative of the support, "The turnout and the fact that we grossed $1.35 million shows that people care about our children with Down syndrome and that they believe that all people should have human and civil rights. We couldn't be more grateful to Mr. Jones, DeOndra and everyone who made this possible."

This year's fashion show highlighted Guest Models who happen to have developmental disabilities - Hanna Atkinson, Steve Ballard, Alan Beals, Megan Bomgaars, Ronald Ray Brewer Jr., Yadira Mariel Carrillo, Brianna Cordova, Michael Dilworth, DeOndra Dixon, Abigail Frary, Channing Jenkins, Dennis Johns, Connor Long, Carol Rachel Lopez-Garcia, Thomas Malone, Chuntelle Milton, Donene Mumaw, Ted Polito, Eliza Richard, Sidney Robertson, Christopher Rodriguez-Benitez, Alexandra Shankle, Jacob Stapel, Noah Stokes, Ava Vincent, and Sarah Wells.

Down syndrome representatives from the UK, Canada, San Diego, Kansas City, and several other cities attended the sold out event.

Notable Coloradans supporting the event included Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. & First Lady Jeannie Ritter, US Congressman Mike Coffman and Cynthia Coffman, US Congressman Ed Perlmutter, Denver Mayor John W. Hickenlooper, Anna & John J. Sie, Ricki Perry Rest & David Rest, Sharon Magness Blake & Ernie Blake, Mike & Amber Fries, Susanne Arkle Wilson & M. Roy Wilson, Peter & Bonnie Kudla, Laura Barton & William Matthews, Jordon & Essie Perlmutter, Robin Chotin, Steven Chotin, Dr. Dean Prina, Jack & Pat McDonnell, Debbi & Lee Alpert, Cookie & Lester Gold, Susan & Randy Karsh, Shereen & Michael Pollack, Larry & Carol Mizel, Norm & Sunny Brownstein, and Steve & Cindy Farber.

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.

The Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome aims to eradicate the ill effects associated with Down syndrome and significantly improve the lives of people with Down syndrome throughout the world. The Institute is named in memory of Dr. Linda Crnic, in honor of her unwavering dedication to people with Down syndrome through translational research. Crnic, who died tragically in a bicycle accident in 2004, was a Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Director of the Colorado Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Center.

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. Through the largest private contribution dedicated to people with Down syndrome in the world, the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation's commitment of $22 million, and the Sie's commitment to raise another $12 million ensures the Institute will be a global beacon for research and care.

The Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome is the first national organization to house basic research, clinical research and clinical care for people with Down syndrome under one umbrella. The Institute is a collaboration between the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Colorado Denver and The Children's Hospital. It is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado and is the beneficiary of the proceeds from the 2009 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Jet Set Fashion Show.

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Danielle Dascalos

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