Screen stage and recording star Queen Latifah was the special guest at the recent “Be Beautiful, Be Yourself” fashion show hosted by The Global Down Syndrome Foundation on November 12 at the Hyatt Regency Colorado Convention Center.
Global Down Syndrome Foundation is committed to raising money and awareness for Down syndrome, a genetic condition that affects millions of families in the U.S. and internationally. The foundation’s primary goal is to help fund research conducted by the Linda Crnic Institute for Down syndrome, as they continue to achieve breakthroughs that will hopefully drastically improve the lives of those who have Down syndrome and their families. Because Down syndrome research is the least funded of the major genetic conditions, the work of The Global Down Syndrome Foundation has become a necessary resource to sustain medical analysis and intensive research.
Since its creation in 2009, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation has hosted the “Be Beautiful Be Yourself” fashion show, which is the largest single benefit fundraiser. The
 star studded event presents models that have Down syndrome accompanied by an all-star cast of celebrities. This year’s celebration was no exception. In addition to Queen Latifah, other celebrities included Denver Bronco Super Bowl Champion and legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, actors Hilary Swank and Matt Dillon, TV personality Mario Lopez, stage and screen star John C. McGinley, actress and model Amanda Booth and Jamie Foxx. The celebrities helped the young models celebrate and strut their stuff down the runway. The models were jubilant and showed the crowd their most creative dance moves up and down the runway. Ranging in age from 7-year-old children to teenagers, the adults also were equally excited to participate.
The fashion show coincided with a silent auction that is responsible for a hefty portion of the funds raised during the event. The bidders were able to receive prizes ranging from an exclusive trip to fashion week in New York
 City, to luxury seating and accommodations at Super Bowl 51.
Before the event began, celebrity sponsors walked the red carpet to highlight why they believed the work of the foundation was so important.
Mario Lopez said, “I support the awareness the event raises and look forward to building on much of the success we have seen in past years.” Queen Latifah also shared with the Denver Urban Spectrum how important inclusion is at a time during our current social climate. She asked, “What would you want for your niece or nephew if they were affected by Down syndrome?” She also said people with Down syndrome “are people just like the rest of us with the same desires and emotions,” which is another reason she is so committed to celebrating them through the fashion show. Multi-talented entertainer Jamie Foxx, whose younger sister Deondra Dixon has Down syndrome, is an avid supporter for her and the condition and attends the event every year. With a winning personality and a great sense of humor, Dixon serves as a Global Down Syndrome Foundation ambassador advocating for the acceptance and continued research on behalf of those with Down syndrome.
Through ticket sales and the silent auction, the foundation was able to raise an incredible amount of money to continue their efforts to improve the lives of those affected by Down syndrome. All of which was encapsulated in a keynote speech by Frank Stephens, who very eloquently stated his desire for people with Down Syndrome to be treated and respected with the basic human dignity that everyone deserves. Oftentimes children with Down syndrome are seen as a burden or disadvantage, instead of being seen as precious and full of potential as all children should. He proudly declared, “I am a man with Down syndrome and my life is worth living!”
Although there is still much work to be done to
insure the safety and quality of life for people with Down syndrome, there are even more disastrous views that see people with this genetic condition as expendable. Stephens noted that by every measurable category “People who have people with Down syndrome close to them are much happier.”