Archive for October 23rd, 2018

Global Down Syndrome Foundation Raises Outstanding $2.4 Million

October 23rd, 2018 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Global’s 10th Anniversary Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show – Celebrating a Decade of Beauty & Achievement – Attracted 1,400 Supporters & Hollywood’s Hottest Celebrities

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Trisha | O: (310) 454-3080
Anca | C: (720) 320-3832

DENVER, CO Oct 23, 2018 – This past weekend, Denver was all a buzz as the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) rang in its 10th Anniversary raising an outstanding $2.4 million, bringing the event’s total raised over the past decade to over $18 million. As the largest fundraiser for Down syndrome in the world, the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show supports life-saving and transformative medical care and research. The marquee event welcomed over 1,400 guests from 23 states and 9 countries to the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

The signature fashion show featuring models with Down syndrome and their celebrity escorts included large, commemorative send-off sparklers and light-up wrist bands. The impressive celebrity lineup included: award-winning actors Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Renner, Heather Graham, Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, and John C. McGinley; supermodel Amanda Booth; Denver Bronco Cheerleaders Jozie, McKenna, and Caitlynn; Miss Colorado Ellery Jones; Soccer Player Sam Cronin; and TV personalities Kim Christiansen and Tom Green.

“What Global is doing for people with Down syndrome, including my sister DeOndra, is amazing – the science, the medical care and the important awareness,” said Foxx, who has been a dedicated supporter of Global from the start. “And you know, this is just the beginning – what we’re going to accomplish in the next ten years will be so important as our loved ones with Down syndrome age.”

The Denver Broncos showed up with major support from Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, quarterback Case Keenum, placekicker Brandon McManus, running back Phillip Lindsay, safety Justin Simmons, and tight end Jeff Heuerman. This year, Global had 27 self-advocate models, including the 2018 Ambassador Sam Levin, as well as the return of past Ambassadors: Chase Turner Perry, Sophia Kay Whitten, Katherine Vollbracht Winfield, Clarissa Capuano, Louis Rotella IV, and Marcus Sikora.

Actors Colin Farrell and Zack Gottsagen received Global’s prestigious Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award (Q Award) to standing ovations. In his acceptance speech Gottsagen said, “People with disabilities need to work together with our friends for inclusion and equal opportunities. So don’t forget to vote! I have voted in every election since I was 18 years old.” He then decided to start the catwalk early and while receiving his Q Award he was surprised by friends Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson who danced down the runway with him.

An impromptu live auction saw Jamie Foxx, Jeremy Renner, Colin Farrell, Von Miller and John C. McGinley jump on stage and auction off items from Von Miller’s jacket to Jeremy Renner’s exclusive Marvel premier tickets and Colin Farrell’s exclusive Dumbo premier extravaganza.

Kacey Bingham and Brittany Bowlen served as the 2018 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show chairs, carrying on the legacy of their mothers Kay Burke and Annabel Bowlen, who have been involved with Global since its inception. In support of the 10th Anniversary, past event chairs showed up in spades including Peter Kudla, Anna and John J. Sie, Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake, Ricki Rest, and Nancy Sevo.

Entering its 10th year, Global is thriving. The millions raised at the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show every year help fund Global’s world-class and unprecedented Down syndrome research and medical care which is helping to increase lifespan and quality of life of people with the condition.

“On our 10th Anniversary, we are so grateful to our dedicated medical professionals at the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado, our brilliant scientists at the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome on the Anschutz Medical Campus, our Down syndrome partner organizations, generous sponsors, influential celebrities, amazing self-advocates and families, and our hardworking team!” said Global President and CEO Michelle Sie Whitten.

Global’s recent lobbying efforts to Congress and outreach to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) resulted in the first significant increase of NIH Down syndrome research funding in nearly 20 years, resulting from $35 million in 2017, to $58 million in 2018, to 98 million in 2019. Additionally, Global just opened its new Cherry Creek headquarters, which includes top-notch office facilities and a future education center of excellence supported by a generous grant from The Salah Foundation. The building will be a home for people with Down syndrome and their families, as well as a destination for inclusion, inspiration, and achievement for everyone.
“Together, we are transforming and saving lives.”

Missed the event? It’s not too late to get involved! See photos from the event and read all the top media coverage.

To learn more about the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show or to donate, visit

To learn more about the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, visit


About the Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is at the forefront of research, medical care, education and advocacy dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome. Global supports the research of hundreds of scientists around the world through their advocates, partners and affiliates, including the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome. Global invites its supporters to celebrate a decade of milestones in helping people with Down syndrome at their 10th Anniversary Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. To learn more, please visit and

Be Beautiful Be Yourself 2018

October 23rd, 2018 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Jeremy Renner, Walt Snodgrass and Charlotte Fonfara-LaRose

October 23rd, 2018 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Salah Foundation: A Brave Family Making a Huge Difference

October 23rd, 2018 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation


From Down Syndrome World Issue 3 2018

The Salah family and the Salah Foundation are giving countless people hope, life-changing support, and a brighter future. For the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, the Salah Foundation is making its dream come true — the opening of a state-of-the-art education center for the differently-abled.

THE SALAH FAMILY is originally from Lebanon, a country of great maritime and cultural history, where even in the second millennium BC, people living in the area cultivated land in a sophisticated society. The ancient Lebanese were creators of the oldest known 24-letter alphabet, and eventually, their alphabet would influence Hebrew, Aramaic, and other languages throughout the Mediterranean region. More recent history has been tumultuous for Lebanon, including during World War I (1914–1918), after which the country was put under the direct control of France. It was during this difficult time, in 1919, that Joseph and Nora Salah courageously left their Maronite Christian hometown and emigrated from Lebanon to the United States in pursuit of a better life.
With little money and unable to speak English, the Salahs worked hard to make a life for themselves and their three children: Isabel, James, and George. James “Jim” Salah was a natural and brilliant entrepreneur. He started his own construction business in Boston, handling some of the city’s largest utility projects, and then branched out into real estate and heavy equipment leasing, and his companies prospered. Upon his death in 2009, The Salah Foundation was founded and now serves as a living tribute to his lifelong success and generosity. Today, Jim’s commitment to philanthropy lives on through his niece, Noreen Salah Burpee, who serves as Executive Director of the foundation.

Under the direction of Burpee, The Salah Foundation has become a formidable force for good. “We have a special interest in self-sufficiency programs,” Burpee explains. “We seek to improve the lives of the under educated, undernourished, and medically needy to become productive and responsible citizens.” The foundation has an emphasis on the economically disadvantaged, young, elderly, and disabled. “The need for responsible philanthropy is almost overwhelming,” Burpee said. “Our greatest inspiration is when we witness someone breaking the cycle of poverty, or ignorance, or homelessness.” Burpee has tapped her own three children — Fred Churbuck, Megan Fearnow, and George J. Taylor — to share the responsibility of philanthropy. “It is a privilege to work together as a family ,” Burpee explains. “Each board member brings their own personal passions to the table. We are a brave family and not afraid to fund the underserved.” Some important organizations that are close to their hearts include The Salah Foundation’s Children’s Hospital at Broward Health and The Noreen Salah Burpee Adult Infusion Center, an inpatient cancer center, both in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and most recently, The Salah Foundation Learning Zone at the future Global Down Syndrome Foundation Education Center of Excellence. The Salah Foundation connected with Global’s dedication to research, medical care, education, and advocacy for people with
Down syndrome. When the family learned about the lack of research funding and medical care and the discrimination against people with Down syndrome, Burpee says she was “very moved by each child with Down syndrome and their supporting families. The very thought that their needs and the needs of children like them were
not being met made us very sad.” “Research is the key,” she continues. “People must be educated on the difficulties and lives of these children so they can live productive, meaningful lives, and Global is doing just that.”

This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read all the articles and get future issues delivered to your door!

Burpee’s son, Fred Churbuck, was the first to experience Global at one of our annual Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show fundraisers. Churbuck admits that at first he didn’t want to attend. “I thought I would feel uncomfortable,” he says. “I had never met a person with Down syndrome.” Then something magical happened. The keynote speaker, Tim Harris, came out, and his speech touched Churbuck. “He was so energetic and articulate, and then he turns to the audience and says, ‘I’m living my dream. You ask yourself, are you living yours? Are you the best you can be?” Churbuck retells the moment. “For the next few weeks, I had all my marketing team watch Tim on video, and we were all inspired.” Over the next two years, The Salah Foundation generously funded Global’s important adult life skills classes and a post – secondary research study that spelled out, for the first time , how adults with Down syndrome best learn life skills and improve their cognitive abilities. “The support that Salah provided to our class and research helped us to make adults more self-sufficient while being able to create and share best practices,” says Bryn Gelaro, LSW (licensed social worker), Global’s Director of Adult Initiatives and Special Projects. Then in 2017, four years to the date of Churbuck at tending Global’s annual fundraiser, the Salah family at tended with a game-changing surprise announcement. Burpee got on stage and announced a new pledge to help under write Global’s future Education Center of Excellence with the lar gest single donation Global has received — $1 million. “We are out of our minds grateful!” says Michelle Sie Whitten, President and CEO of Global. “The Salah Foundation was amazingly generous, and it was so hard to keep it a secret — literally even our board didn’t know. We were so intent on making it a surprise. There were 1,400 people in attendance, we were sold out, and then the lovely, articulate Noreen gets up there and just makes the announcement. Even Quincy Jones, John C. McGinley, Jamie Foxx, and Eva Longoria were high-fiving each other!” Burpee recalls, “When I made that pledge and hear d the gasps and then the applause, I looked to my family’s table and saw them standing and wildly applauding. It took my breath away.” The 2017 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show was the largest grossing Global fundraiser to date.

Global’s future Education Center will open in 2019. The Education Center will house The Salah Foundation Learning Zone where transformative educational programs for adults and children with Down syndrome will be held. To better understand the needs of the local community, Global organized an informal listening campaign and survey resulting in 26 disability organizations identifying programs and classes that could take place in The Salah Foundation Learning Zone. Examples of programs already being planned are cooking classes, computer classes, and summer center-based learning classes so children with Down syndrome can be better prepared for the school year. The Education Center is nestled between the Cherry Creek neighborhood of over 1,000 residents and the vibrant Cherry Creek North shopping district with over 600 businesses and 8 ,000 employees. A key focus of the center will be vocational training with the long-term goal of having 30 to 40 people who are differently abled working in Cherry Creek North. “We are not just a check-writing foundation but a partner in philanthropy,” Burpee says. The partnership with The Salah Foundation and the Salah family will surely empower the dreams of those with Down syndrome and the differently-abled for years to come.

The Salah Foundation is a private foundation that makes investments in nonprofits by invitation only.

Draft rendering of The Salah Foundation Learning Zone at Global Down Syndrome Foundation Courtesy of OfficeScapes and ArtHouse Design

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