Celebrities & Congress Step Out for People with Down Syndrome in Washington DC

Over 300 Inspired Attendees Raise Over $400,000, Celebrate GLOBAL Honorees, and Experience an Intimate Heartfelt Performance by GRAMMY Award-Nominated Multiplatinum Singer-Songwriter Gavin DeGraw

Washington, D.C., Jun 08, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Last night the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (GLOBAL) held its annual AcceptAbility Gala, DC’s largest fundraiser for people with Down syndrome, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. Celebrities passionate about the cause included GRAMMY Award-Nominated Multiplatinum Singer-Songwriter Gavin DeGraw, three-time Super Bowl champion and FOX NFL Analyst Mark Schlereth, actor, author and public speaker Frank Stephens, author and public speaker David Egan, and power-couple Kyra Phillips, an award-winning correspondent for ABC News and anchor for ABC News LIVE, and John Roberts, co-anchor of ‘America Reports with John Roberts and Sandra Smith’ on Fox News.

Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Pete Stauber (R-MN) received GLOBAL’s highest honor, the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award, for their strong advocacy in Congress on behalf of people with Down syndrome. GLOBAL awardee alumni, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL) provided keynotes and introduced the night’s honorees.

Congressman Pete Stauber (R-MN) and Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) Accepting their Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Awards

Left to Right: Michelle Sie Whitten, Sophia Whitten, David Egan, Rep. Pete Stauber, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Mark Schlereth, Rep. Katherine Clark & Frank Stephens 

To recognize the transformative leadership of Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Tom Cole (R-OK), GLOBAL created a post-secondary scholarship in their names that was unveiled at the gala. Melissa Silverman received the inaugural Tom Cole GLOBAL Advancement Award and Eric Latcheran received the inaugural Rosa DeLauro GLOBAL Advancement Award.

With the help of GLOBAL Ambassador Abby Ashbrook and her family, and co-chairs Erin Mullen and Matt Perin, the inspirational gala attracted over 300 attendees and raised over  $400,000 for GLOBAL’s life-saving research and medical care. GLOBAL supports over 200 researchers on the Anschutz Medical Campus at the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Alzheimer’s and Cognition Center, as well as over 2,200 patients from 33 states and 10 countries at the Sie Center for Down Syndrome. For nearly two decades Down syndrome was one of the least federally funded genetic conditions in the United States.


“I’m deeply moved to receive this honor from my friends at GLOBAL,” said Democratic Whip Katherine Clark. “From lifting up the voices of people with Down syndrome to fighting for new research investments, we share a straightforward mission: upholding the health and dignity of every person. I’m proud to be in this fight with them, and I look forward to building on the hard-won progress we’ve forged together.”

“My son Isaac is a blessing and I want everyone to know how people with Down syndrome make the world a better place,” says Representative Stauber. “Global Down Syndrome Foundation is leading the way for our children and adults so that they can live healthier and longer lives and I am honored to support their work and to receive this award. I will continue to fight for the rights of people who are differently-abled and I hope tonight inspired others to join us.”

“At GLOBAL we are working hard every day to elongate life and improve health outcomes for our loved ones with Down syndrome,” says GLOBAL Co-Founder, President, and CEO, Michelle Sie Whitten. “To have such overwhelming bi-partisan support – and a room full of people from NIH scientists to self-advocates with Down syndrome to corporate leaders – celebrating the impact of our work is extremely rewarding and appreciated. It is so clear that we are better together!”

At the end of the evening, Gavin DeGraw, delighted the audience with an intimate, heartfelt performance of some of his biggest hits including One Tree Hill theme song “I Don’t Want to Be,” while the inclusive dance troupe RhythmXpress and solo dancer Robert Wallop wowed attendees.

Additional notables in attendance included Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) and his son, GLOBAL Ambassador Alex Sessions; Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO); Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen (D-CO), Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville Executive Director, Debbie Revels; Down Syndrome Association of Delaware Executive Director, Lauren Gates; and Down Country Founder and President, Kate Dougherty.

To learn more about GLOBAL, visit www.globaldownsyndrome.org.


About Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation (GLOBAL) is the largest non-profit in the U.S. working to save lives and dramatically improve health outcomes for people with Down syndrome. GLOBAL has donated more than $32 million to establish the first Down syndrome research institute supporting over 400 scientists and over 2,200 patients with Down syndrome from 33 states and 10 countries. Working closely with Congress and the National Institutes of Health, GLOBAL is the lead advocacy organization in the U.S. for Down syndrome research and care. GLOBAL has a membership of over 110 Down syndrome organizations worldwide, and is part of a network of Affiliates – the Crnic Institute for Down Syndromethe Sie Center for Down Syndrome, and the University of Colorado Alzheimer’s and Cognition Center – all on the Anschutz Medical Campus.

GLOBAL’s widely circulated medical publications include Global Medical Care Guidelines for Adults with Down SyndromePrenatal Testing and Information about Down Syndrome, and the award-winning magazine Down Syndrome WorldTM. GLOBAL also organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, the largest Down syndrome fundraiser in the world. Visit globaldownsyndrome.org and follow us on social media (Facebook & Twitter: @GDSFoundation, Instagram: @globaldownsyndrome).


Anca Elena Call

Global Down Syndrome Foundation



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