Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award Recipients
About the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation was honored when music icon Quincy Jones agreed to be the Foundation’s first International Spokesperson.
Through the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Quincy recognized immediately that the disparity of funding for research for people with Down syndrome, even amongst the differently-abled, is first and foremost about human and civil rights.
To this end, Quincy worked with the Foundation to establish the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award. The Foundation established this award in honor of Quincy’s life-changing leadership in humanitarian efforts to help the disadvantaged. The award recognizes those who have championed people who are differently-abled, including people with Down syndrome, in several categories such as humanitarian work, self-advocacy, and public service.
People with developmental disabilities, especially Down syndrome, are too often neglected and underestimated by our government and society as a whole. With Quincy’s generous support, we are able to pay tribute to public figures who have taken the time to understand our children and dot shine a light on their contributions to this world. Also in Quincy’s name, we honor those self-advocates who are changing our world as role models anyone would be proud to emulate.
The Foundation is deeply appreciative of Quincy Jones and the outstanding recipients of the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award. Below is a list of these exceptional people:
Quincy Jones — musician, composer, producer, arranger, conductor. It would seem that everything Quincy Jones touches turns to gold. (Or, at least platinum). Named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century, Quincy has received 25 Grammy Awards and has been nominated 79 times (the all-time most nominations for an artist).
Read more about Music icon Quincy Jones.
Accomplished musician and self-advocate
Sujeet Desai is an accomplished musician born with Down syndrome. Sujeet has mastered seven instruments: Bb and bass clarinet, alto saxophone, violin, piano, trumpet, and drums. In June 2001, he graduated from high school with honors and in May 2003, he graduated from the Berkshire Hills Music Academy in Massachusetts after a two-year residential post-secondary study in Music and Human Services. He made his Carnegie Hall debut on May 20, 2015. Watch Sujeet Desai’s Rehearsal for Carnegie Hall in this video from the Niagara Gazette.
Read more about Sujeet Desai.
Grammy Awards dancer and Self-Advocate, Global Down Syndrome Foundation Ambassador
When DeOndra Dixon was born in 1984 there were not many services or early intervention available for children with Down syndrome. But with the loving guidance of her mother and father, George and Annette, her big brother, sister, and grandmother, DeOndra Dixon has created a well-balanced and meaningful life for herself beyond what many could have expected almost three decades ago.
Read more about DeOndra Dixon.
Jamie Foxx — often described as a triple threat for his versatility as an actor, musician and comedian.
Read more about actor and musician Jamie Foxx.
Champion swimmer and self-advocate
From the moment she was born, Karen Gaffney began an incredible journey that continues today. Karen is the President of a non-profit organization dedicated to championing the journey to full inclusion in families, schools, the workplace and the community for people with developmental disabilities. Watch Karen’s captivating TEDx Talk All Lives Matter.
Read more about Karen Gaffney.
U.S. Senator, Iowa
Senator Tom Harkin was born in Cumming, Iowa. After graduating from Dowling High School in Des Moines, he attended Iowa State University on a Navy ROTC scholarship, earning a degree in government and economics. Following graduation, Tom served in the Navy as a jet pilot on active duty from 1962 to 1967.
Read more about Sen. Tom Harkin.
In October of 2010, Tim Harris’ dream came true with the grand opening of Tim’s Place – a restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Watch this video to see the joy Tim gets from serving people good food and his diner’s most famous export: hugs!
Read more about entrepreneur Tim Harris.
Athlete, golfer and self-advocate
Born in 1988 in Philadelphia, Brad seems to have been destined to play “golf for life.” He started playing mini golf at age 2 with his 7-year-old brother Bob, who is now an accomplished PGA golf professional. Brad, who is a lefty, was somehow able to maximize his visual learning skills and master his brother’s right-handed golf swing at a very early age. Together, these two inseparable brothers spent countless hours and years practicing their skills and competing in golf tournaments. Watch this inspiring video of Brad with his friend, Cleveland Cavaliers J.R. Smith.
Read more about Brad Hennefer.
Mother, actress, author, activist, businesswoman, TV personality, and icon.
Beverly Johnson is a Founder, Chairwoman and CEO of BJE LLC. She is the first African-American supermodel. Her stunning features and superstardom landed her on the cover of Vogue magazine in 1974, making world history as the first African-American model to ever grace the acclaimed magazine’s cover, and forever changing the beauty ideal in the fashion world.
Read more about Beverly Johnson
Congressman, Rhode Island
Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Rhode Island’s First District. Kennedy, like his father, Senator Ted Kennedy, and many of his extended family, consistently served and protected the most vulnerable Americans, including those who are differently-abled.
Read more about Patrick J. Kennedy.
Award-winning actor, Global Down Syndrome Foundation Board Member, International Spokesperson and parent-advocate
By 2000, John C. McGinley had amassed decades of stellar work on stage and screen, including six collaborations with Oscar-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone. John has said that Platoon was one of his favorite rolls and one of the hardest. But despite being considered one of his generations finest movie actors, he joked that he wasn’t pretty enough for television. “They like Ken dolls and I look more like Ken’s creepy uncle.”
Read more about John C. McGinley.
U.S. Senator, Kansas
Senator Moran has been recognized by the National Down Syndrome Society for his efforts to advance policies promoting positive change for individuals with Down syndrome. He is a sponsor of the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act), and has worked to raise the profile of research relating to Down syndrome, including its connection with Alzheimer’s disease.
Read more about Senator Jerry Moran
Eleanor Holmes Norton
U.S. Representative, District of Columbia
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, now in her twelfth term representing the District of Columbia, is Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. She is one of four co-chairs on the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and is a co-sponsor of the ABLE Act, which aims to provide a pathway to a better economic future for the differently-abled.
Read more about Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Kyra Phillips is the award-winning journalist who anchors “Raising America with Kyra Phillips” on HLN. This daytime interactive broadcast focuses on news stories told through a parental lens and how they impact the modern American family.
Read more about journalist Kyra Phillips.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers
U.S. Representative, Washington
Cathy McMorris Rodgers was born into a farming family and was the first in her family to attend college. She worked her way through Pensacola Christian College in Florida and later earned her Executive MBA from the University of Washington.
Read more about Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
U.S. Representative, Texas
A conservative community leader, United States Congressman Pete Sessions has combined hard work, innovative thinking, and common-sense principles to successfully represent the 32nd Congressional District of Texas.
Read more about Pete Sessions
Timothy P. Shriver
President and CEO, Special Olympics
Timothy P. Shriver is a social leader, an educator, activist, film producer and business entrepreneur. He is the Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics, and in that capacity he serves nearly 3.5 million Special Olympics athletes and their families in more than 170 countries.
Read more about Timothy P. Shriver.
Chris Van Hollen
U.S. Representative, Maryland
Chris Van Hollen has served in Congress since 2003 representing Maryland’s 8th District. He serves as the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, where he works to advance policies that support job creation and economic growth, reduce the deficit, and put America on a path to fiscal sustainability and broadly-shared prosperity.
Read more about Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
Whether it’s athletics, acting or music, Luke Zimmerman has never let anyone put limits on his dreams. Through his own determination and the support of his family, he has become a TV star and a role model for the differently-abled. See Luke’s IMDb profile.
Read more about Luke Zimmerman.