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Yesterday & Today: World Down Syndrome Day 2018

March 13th, 2018 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Global Down Syndrome Foundation recognizes World Down Syndrome Day as a chance to reflect on the progress we have made, and on our hopes for the future.


YESTERDAY: The life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome was only 28 years in the 1980s.

TODAY: Today in the US, the life expectancy is nearly 60 years!

The discrimination against people with Down syndrome can be profound. Children and adults with the condition are still deprived of lifesaving medical care. There are also too few medical professionals who understand that patients with Down syndrome are highly predisposed to certain diseases and highly protected from others.

At Global we are working to continue this significant increase of lifespan for people with Down syndrome through improved medical care.



YESTERDAY: In the US, people with Down syndrome weren’t allowed to attend public schools until the 1970s.

TODAY: Students with special needs get a free and appropriate public education required by law.

Despite many advances since the 1970s, so many parents are still battling the education system to enforce their rights. At the same time they are trying to unlock how their children and adults with Down syndrome can learn better.

At Global we are working to help ensure improved health outcomes (including in sleep, speech, hearing and vision) that we believe will allow students with Down syndrome to reach their true potential.



YESTERDAY: In the US, the accepted terminology for people with Down syndrome used to be “mongoloid” and “mentally retarded.”

TODAY: Thanks to Rosa’s Law, “mental retardation” was replaced with “intellectual and developmental disabilities” in all federal documents.

We believe in freedom of speech. But we also believe that our community must demand respect through language, and stand up to those who would bully us with words. Through our training and our advocacy we educate medical and research professionals in “people first” language and we have stood up to bullies using the “R” word and worse.

At Global we are advocating for equality and respect in Washington, D.C. and throughout the world.



YESTERDAY: In U.S. hospitals, starving a baby to death with Down syndrome, or another intellectual disability, was allowed until the 1981 passing of the “Baby Doe Law.”

TODAY: This year we are celebrating Lucas Warren as the “healthy, happy, perfect” 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby – Lucas happens to have Down syndrome!

In Iceland, Denmark and other countries where the government boasts a “Down syndrome-free” future, the eugenics framework is marked and frightening. Standing on the shoulders of our human and civil rights predecessors of the 1960s and 1970s, we must be vigilant to ensure that our children and adults have rights, and are valued, equal citizens – in the U.S. and abroad.

Global advocates for our government to invest in people with Down syndrome and for people with the condition to be recognized throughout the world.



TODAY: The Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado provides life-saving and life-changing medical care to over 1,400 children with Down syndrome.

TOMORROW: Global envisions a world where we are able to establish a network of pediatric AND adult medical centers providing EXCELLENT care to millions of people with Down syndrome!

On this World Down Syndrome Day, Global is grateful for the amazing progress we have made together—we have created a pipeline of excellent science that informs our excellent medical care benefitting thousands of people with Down syndrome.

To be sustainable and to GROW so as to help ever more people with Down syndrome, we are grateful to you for your on-going support and trust in us to make a positive, tangible difference.

THANK YOU for allowing us to save and improve lives. Happy World Down Syndrome Day!!

2019 World Down Syndrome Day

March 13th, 2018 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Join Global Down Syndrome Foundation, the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome for a celebration at the Colorado State Capitol!

The Global team, self-advocates, and other organizations serving the differently-abled will enjoy a fun photo op followed by announcements and light refreshments.

If you have any questions please contact: or
 call 720-548-5626.


Join our Dare to Ride Team at the 2019 Courage Classic

January 29th, 2018 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Join the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Dare to Ride Team for the 2019 Courage Classic bike tour today! The Courage Classic is a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Colorado, and the Dare to Ride Team will be designating its funds to the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at the hospital. Whether you are a recreational biker or a seasoned race pro, the Courage Classic has a course for you! Bike the 10-mile route on Saturday, the 160-mile full route over two days, or select one of the many options in between. All routes start at Copper Mountain Resort, 75 miles west of Denver in beautiful Summit County.

The details: spend July 20th & 21st in Copper Mountain!

For all race logistics, click here to visit the Courage Classic site.

Why should YOU ride with Global?

Here are some of the many perks of becoming a Global Rider:

  • Support Life-Saving Medical Care. Raise $50k to benefit the Sie Center for Down Syndrome, which is the fastest growing medical care center for individuals with Down syndrome.
  • Online Fundraising and Communication Tools. With Global, you’ll receive your own personal fundraising page that you can customize and share. Donors can show their support by making a gift online or by mailing a check.
  • Sense of Community. Any skill level is welcome to join! Routes range from
    a 10-mile family ride to a tougher 84-mile route, but group training rides will prepare you to tackle it all!
  • Supportive Staff. Our team is commited to supporting your fundraising goals, so don’t let the $500 minimum deter you. We will host meetings to check in and brainstorm ideas..
  • Team Swag & Celebration Party. For a low registration fee of $100 (before May 1st),
    you will provide life-saving and life-changing medical care to children with Down syndrome.
  • Get Started Changing Lives. Because there’s nothing like cool gear and a cold beer to make that last minute mile seem just a little less impossible.

Ready to sign up? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

1. Register on the Dare to Ride Team page to ensure that all funds raised support the Sie Center.

2. Set up your personal fundraising page. After you register, you can set up your own personal fundraising page, complete with a photo, a personal message and more!

3. Wait for an email from Global. A Global staff member will reach out to you with information about the child you are riding for, and invitation to join our private team Facebook group and a fundraising toolkit to help you get started.

If you have any questions, please contact or 720-548-5619.

Together we can reach our Dare to Ride Team goal of raising $50,000!


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In-Kind Sponsors

2018 DSAIA Affiliates Celebration Concert

January 1st, 2018 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Saturday, February 24, 2018
7:30-11:00 PM
The Gothic Theatre
3263 S. Broadway, Englewood, CO

Thanks for the Overwhelming Support in Washington, DC

December 21st, 2017 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation


Special Thanks to our Amazing Sponsors

American Resort Development Association
Comcast NBCUniversal
Erin and Ed Mullen
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP


Buy a Gift, Change a Life at Neiman Marcus this Holiday Season

November 3rd, 2017 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Neiman Marcus


From November 2nd to December 26th, when you shop the
Neiman Marcus Love to Give Holiday Collection in Cherry Creek
will benefit the Global Down Syndrome Foundation!

Please join us for bubbly, hors d’oeuvres and shopping
and a special ballet performance with Global’s
Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Class organized by the Colorado Ballet

Wednesday ● December 6, 2017 ● 6pm – 8pm
Neiman Marcus in Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Space is limited, please reserve your spot now!
Questions: Martha Cronen Keele at 303.468.6674

Global Employment Grant Winners thriving in communities across US

May 16th, 2017 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin (DSAW)
Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area
The Up Side of Downs of Northeast Ohio (USOD)

Initiated in 2016, Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Self-Advocate Employment Initiative Grants have empowered local Down syndrome organizations to help hire 32 individuals with Down syndrome. The accomplishments of the organizations and the individuals they employ are creating significant impacts in their communities across the nation.

Global is so proud to be able to support these wonderful member organizations through the Employment Grants. The Grants will be offered again next year and applications will open in December 2017. Eligibility to receive an Employment Initiative Grant is just one of the benefits of Global membership.


Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin (DSAW)

In 2016 DSAW used the funds from Global’s grant to support Andrew’s Voice— a business run by Andrew Gerbitz, a Self-Advocate, that brings Down syndrome awareness, mentoring, and self-advocacy to different communities. Andrew’s Voice allows Andrew the opportunity to make a job out of something he loves to do, speak in public on behalf of those impacted by Down syndrome.

Andrew shares his excitement to be involved with these presentations:

“I love DSAW because they do so many amazing things for my life. DSAW helps me with my business, Andrew’s Voice, like at the Milwaukee County Zoo when I got to share about my business. I like doing the Peer Sensitivity Trainings and being a motivational speaker to teach other people that we are more alike than different. Going to schools to speak is fun especially because I like working with kids. Speaking at the Golf Outing was a huge success. It is a great to be with other self-advocates. Going to La Crosse to speak was another good memory. Helping with DSAW is fun because I get to hang out with my friends and other self-advocates. I like to be a good role model and help others. Being on the DSAW board is very important to me and helping out with DSAW events”— Andrew Gerbitz.

Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area

After a successful first grant year, Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area (DSCBA) will employ several self-advocates. Support from Global in 2016 allowed four associates to grow their professional and personal skills. In 2017 the grant will continue to enable the initial four employees expand their responsibilities, in addition add a fifth employee.



  • In 2016 Eli conducted 22 ability awareness presentations in Bay Area schools reaching more than 1,000 students and nearly 70 adults – throughout different grade levels – who have a  classmate with Down syndrome. As the Ability Awareness Associate, Eli’s new tasks will include participating in some DSCBA support groups and supporting the technology portion of his  awareness presentations.
  • Not only did Marissa become more engaged in her role as an ambassador, but she became a master of public engagement through PowerPoint presentations and visual cues. In 2017, as the Community Outreach Associate she will create a social media campaign to give her the opportunity to use her voice creatively.
  •  Gaining more independence in her job tasks is one of the biggest accomplishments K. Leigh gained as the DSCBA Assistant Teacher. K. Leigh’s new tasks include leading circle time with kids, and she will be assigned specific children who she can provide one-on-one support to.
  • Joseph, the Administrative Assistant, took initiative in 2016 by seeking assistance when he was stuck on tasks— like preparing mailers and medical outreach packets. As Joseph’s confidence continues to grow in 2017 his new tasks will include increasing his efficiency and being able to accept coaching from co-workers in a constructive and professional manner.
  • The grant money was so helpful DSCBA was able to add a fifth employee— Malia— to their staff in 2017. Malia reports directly to DSCBA Director of New Family Services, Nancy Ferguson, and she is responsible for assembling the organizations new parents packs and with materials as needed.



GraceSigns is making major strides in communication opportunities for kids with and without disabilities. The mission of the non-profit is to teach sign language in a way that is easy, accessible, and fun! Photos taken at a GraceSigns filming session for the Sign Me a Song Project show how busy the organization is in fulfilling this mission.

With Global’s grant the organization has expanded and continue their subcontract with Futures Explored, Inc.—an organization that employs adults with developmental disabilities. Futures Explored helps with the production and filming of GraceSigns’ signing videos and hires adults with Down syndrome to assist with camera work, sound set up, and videotaping.

Sign Me A Song, like GraceSigns first app Sign Me A Story, embeds sign language into stories and songs— a learning technique GraceSigns founder Valerie R. Carter believes is a more successful approach in teaching sign language.


The Up Side of Downs of Northeast Ohio (USOD)

Global’s grant played an instrumental role in helping the Up Side of Downs of Northeast Ohio blossom in the Independence, OH community— and will continue to in 2017.2016 was a banner year for USOD, and Global is thrilled to have supported their growth. Carrie is an Office Assistant with USOD who helps with data entry, builds new parent packets, and prepare for events and USOD’s learning program. In May 2016 Carrie’s duties expanded to handling inventory when USOD opened their unique gift shop filled with treasures created by individuals with Down syndrome, Artful 21. With the success of Artful 21, USOD hired two additional self-advocates — Tiffany and Shira.

“I learn so much from this job. I like the computer, data entry work. I like doing any tasks that I am given. I support the Up Side of Downs because I have Down syndrome,” Carrie said. “Mine was one of the original families and I feel attached in a way to the Up Side of Downs. I never thought I’d be working here and I’ve been here two years. It’s the best. I learn from everyone here. Working on the computer here has helped me with my other job at the Cleveland Clinic.”

Global sending best of luck to models in Second Annual Sea Bunita Sea Bo Mes !

April 30th, 2017 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Global sends congratulations to all the models, organizers, and self-advocates in Aruba for the second annual Sea Bunita Sea Bo Mes!

Two of the models who will be rocking the runway in Aruba this year were also models at Global’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show! We wish the best of luck to Jake, Shawndré, and to all of the other models in this year’s fashion show.

We are honored to have been invited to the event. Global is busy preparing for a summer of advocating and financially supporting research and medical care for people with Down syndrome, which has prevented us from attending. In our absence, President and CEO Michelle Sie Whitten offers words of encouragement and support for this amazing event in Aruba!

Since 2013, Hans Geerman, President and Director of the Fundación Sea Bunita Sea Bo Mes, has been working on the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba to change the way people see individuals with Down syndrome.

“We started organizing different events to make the Aruban community more aware of integration and inclusion for people with Down syndrome,” Geerman said.

Originally, the foundation operated under the name Ban Papia,, which means “Let’s Talk,” until an influential trip to Denver to attend Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s 2015 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, where his son Shawndré modeled. The visit proved so inspirational that Hans decided to bring that experience back to the island.

“After the event, we returned to Aruba and sponsored the first Aruba fashion show as Fundación Sea Bunita Sea Bo Mes (Be Beautiful Be Yourself Foundation),” he said. “The show starred members of our community with Down syndrome as models and local business and media personalities as their escorts. The event was a sellout, and the feedback has been positive beyond what we could hope it would be.”

Writing essays, calculating fractions, and studying history— these are what fill a typical middle-schooler’s day.

But, Wednesday afternoon seven middle-school students joined forces with Global Down Syndrome Foundation to work towards a goal: get signatures for Global’s Petition of Support for Down syndrome research. And, the young scholars more than accomplished this. For two hours, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders from Stanley British Primary School (BPS) gathered 185 signatures at Lowry Town Center. The students weren’t alone in their efforts. Global guided them, and 3 self-advocates palled up with the students— a collaboration that was helpful and fun for everyone involved.

This teamwork originates from Global CEO and President Michelle Whitten’s daughter, Sophia, who attends Stanley BPS. Sophia’s homeroom class decided to do a Service Learning Project to learn about Down syndrome and why research for it is so important. Sophia also happens to have Down syndrome.

The students were enthusiastic to have a hands-on approach to understanding more about Down syndrome. Prior to the petition signing the students wrote speaking notes and role-played to prepare. And, their preparation paid off. Overall, there were positive reactions and the people to turn down signing the petition were far and few.

The face-to-face interaction students and self-advocates had with the community was successful in helping Global gain strides to our overall goal of 5,000 signatures. While Global made leaps in the number of signatures, we are still short of our target. Now more than ever it’s important to show lawmakers their communities support Down syndrome research. Help us reach our goal so we can present a compelling petition in D.C. later this year!


Local media outlets highlighted the collaboration between Global and Stanley BPS to gain signatures. Whitten, Sophia , and Sophia’s classmate Addie Boyer all sat down with 9News to discuss the petition. Sophia and Addie explain why their class was involved in gathering signatures. You can watch the interview here!

Dr. Tom Blumenthal, executive director for the Linda Crnic Institute – a Global affiliate, and  Whitten also discussed the importance of World Down Syndrome Day and the details of Global’s WDSD event on March 21 with CBS 4. You can watch the discussion here!

Colorado Governor, First Lady and Tennis Champion Support Global

September 15th, 2016 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and First Lady Robin Pringle Hickenlooper joined Mats Wilander, the former world No. 1 tennis player, at Global’s Dare to Play Tennis Camp Exhibition Day. The day was the culmination of a 6-week camp where athletes with Down syndrome and their typical peers learned the fundamentals of tennis.

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