2013 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Gala Models

Zach Adams
Zach is almost 10 years old, lives in Maryland and is in third grade at Central Elementary. He is the proud big brother to Jacob and Benjamin, who enjoy a built-in play date every day! Zach competes in Track & Field for Special Olympics, plays adaptive lacrosse and has been on the competitive cheerleading team MD Twisters Storm Chasers for 6 years. He also plays basketball and after each basket runs over to his mom and dad for high-fives and hugs! Zach loves to play on his iPad, watch movies, sing, dance, swim and go to the beach. He loves school and is fiercely protective of his friends and family. One hug or smile from Zach is guaranteed to brighten up anyone’s day! Zach’s mom, dad and family are extremely proud of him and love him very much.

Funmi Agbebi
Funmi resides in Maryland along with her two sisters. Funmi was born 11 years ago and immediately diagnosed with Trisomy 21. Funmi has undergone two corrective orthopedic surgeries to repair damages caused by Blount’s disease. She also continues to be brave against hyperthyroidism. Funmi attends Catherine T. Reed Elementary School in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Funmi loves to sing and dance, with an absolute love for Indian music and dance. In 2012, she participated in the Global Down Syndrome Foundation Dare to Cheer program and Community Game Day with celebrity coaches Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins and Brian Billick, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens.

Thalia Arbelaez
Thalia is a poised, energetic and dedicated 20-year-old who is getting ready to graduate this year from Pepin Academy in Tampa, Florida. She has participated on the Pepin Academy Cheerleading Team and has won the Florida State Cheerleading Competition for the past three years. Upon graduation, she will continue her dance studies in order to reach her goal of being a part of “Dancing with the Stars,” and becoming a dance teacher’s assistant for children with special needs. Thalia was a special guest at the 2011 International Congress for Down Syndrome in Colombia. This year, she will lead a workshop called “More Reasons to Dance” at the NDSC Convention in Denver. Thalia loves eating “arepas,” chicken nuggets and French fries with lots of ketchup.

Olivia August
Fifteen-year-old Olivia cannot wait for summer so she can go to Camp Pals, an overnight camp in Pennsylvania where she will be able to do some of her favorite things like singing and dancing. She is a freshman from Arnold, Maryland, and when she is not studying her Latin vocabulary, you can find her listening to One Direction with her older sister, Tierney, or hanging out with her triplet siblings, Toby and Mary. One of her happiest moments this year was when she lettered as the Varsity Girls Soccer manager. She is the hostess for the Financial Club at school and loves to greet the presenters, escort them to the room and write thank-you notes. She is delighted to model tonight for such a great organization as Global.

Canela Bahamonde
Canela is 7 and attends first grade at Cub Run Elementary School in Centreville, Virginia. She lives with her parents who are originally from Ecuador, and she has an older brother who is 25 years old. Her favorite food is veggies and fruits, plus she loves to try foods from all over the world. Canela is bilingual; her whole family’s first language is Spanish. She is a good dancer to folk music from her family’s home country. Her favorite sport is Tae Kwon Do, in which she just got her first belt. Canela is a great swimmer and is looking to get involved with Special Olympics. She is an excellent “ambassador” who has traveled to different countries and made a lot of friends. Canela loves books and is learning to read. She is very popular at school and loves attention.

Justin Bailey
Justin is 40 years old and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. He works on a lawn-care crew through the Arc of Montgomery County, Maryland. He is a great dancer and especially likes to show off his Michael Jackson dance moves. He also enjoys dressing up and meeting new people. Justin has never met a camera he did not like. Justin also likes playing basketball and cooking and overall is an outgoing, friendly and helpful person.

Patrick Boyle
Patrick is a senior at Leonardtown High School in Maryland. He loves to dance and sing. In school, he participates in the Best Buddies program, the Recycling program and the Corollary Sports program, which includes bowling, bicycling and bocce. With Special Olympics, Patrick does swimming, bowling, track, bicycling and kayaking. One summer, he was awarded the “Coach’s Award” by his community swim team. Patrick is an active, healthy young man — which is especially significant since, at the age of 7 weeks, he underwent open heart surgery. At his church, Patrick is active in the Special Needs Ministry program. He has two sisters, Maggie and Maureen. Patrick had a “great time” at his high school Prom in April.

Lillian Bridgeman
Lillian was born a pop star — and she would like to thank everyone for coming to her “purple concert” tonight! Lillian is 7 years old and lives in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where she is in first grade at the Children’s House of Hershey Montessori school. She has lived in Seattle and Honduras, as well. She lives with her dad, mom, older sister Abigail and younger sister Charlotte. Lillian is a city girl and loves anything to do with fashion shows, Barbie and Paris. She loves to watch movies and takes ballet class. She is a super reader and must read before going to bed each night. When she was in Honduras, she was essential to her family’s mission to show the world, by example, the great value of differently-abled people.

Laila Brown
Laila is an 11-year-old from Annapolis, Maryland. She lives with her parents, her three sisters and her two dogs. Laila has a very busy life; her favorite activity is competitive cheerleading. She’s a member of the MD Twisters “Eye of the Storm.” Laila and her teammates took first place this year at the National Championships in Atlanta! Laila sings in her school chorus; in April they performed at the National Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, DC. In her spare time, she loves swimming, lacrosse, art, singing, modeling and, best of all, hanging out with her friends.

Melissa Maria Castellanos
Melissa is a fun-loving 23-year-old who graduated from Falls Church High School in Virginia in 2009 and attended the Davis Career Center for two years. She works at Wildflour Catering. Melissa is bilingual, speaking English and enjoying her Spanish conversations with her grandma Vita. She has a passion for music and enjoys cooking. Melissa is a 5-time Special Olympics gold medalist in swimming, and this year she will join the bowling team. She and her younger sister, Sabrina, like to go to the movies, eat frozen yogurt and drink smoothies. Melissa loves traveling, shopping with her mom and visiting her aunties in Florida, California and Colombia. She has a great sense of humor, and surprises are her favorite. For Melissa the magic word is LOVE!

John Patrick Curley
John is 15 years old and in the eighth grade. He enjoys school, especially his gym, art and chorus classes. John has two brothers in college and a sister who is a senior in high school. John enjoys horseback riding in the spring and fall and loves to swim all summer at the local pool. When John isn’t occupied with his family, he likes to play mini-golf or bowl with his friends. John dances with the Olympic Flame group and performs at various events. Above all, John’s biggest love is acting. He attends play camps every summer and enjoys the variety of plays he participates in. When at home he loves to play with his cat “Lucky” and help his mom cook.

DeOndra Dixon
DeOndra is the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s 2011 Ambassador and 2009 Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award recipient. She lives in Westlake, California, and continues her education at Tierra Del Sol Foundation School, where she also has a job in the school cafeteria. She is the recipient of a schoolwide poetry award. DeOndra has won several medals in the Special Olympics, including in shot put, track and field, bowling and soccer. She has traveled to Washington, D.C., and San Antonio to advocate on behalf of people with Down syndrome.

Kelsey Franklin
Kelsey is 24 years old and lives in Maryland. She works for the new Phoenix Pottery Studio, Grace Fellowship Church and Penn Mar Inc. Kelsey is just starting to rehearse the play “Cats.” She loves Special Olympics cheerleading, track and field, and basketball, and she really loves to go to concerts and listen to music. Kelsey has a brother, Peter, and sister, Hannah, and a dog named Charlie. They all love to go to the beach.

Julia Anne Greene
Julia is 8 years old and lives in Alexandria, Virginia. The oldest daughter of Loretta and Bill Greene, Julia is in second grade on a mainstream track at Waynewood Elementary. In March she was chosen by her classmates to play the “Cat-in-the-Hat” in a Dr. Seuss school production. Julia’s brother Tommy is 7, and sister Isabella is 5. Julia, Tommy and Isabella spend endless hours laughing, playing kick ball, swinging and riding bikes. Julia loves to dance and play ballet dress-up with Isabella. She frequently hits the DC social circuit with her mom and Aunt Rita. She loves traveling to South Carolina to visit relatives and hanging out with her grandmother Carmen. Julia attends Plymouth Haven Baptist Church.

Kendra Alexis Hager
Kendra is 15 years old from Charleston, West Virginia. She is a freshman who attends Saint Albans High School in Saint Albans, West Virginia. Kendra is a cheerleader for Kanawha County Special Olympics; her squad won Gold and Bronze at the state competition in 2013. Kendra attends Hip-Hop dance classes at the Saint Albans Dance Studio and will be attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with her dance team. She enjoys her dog, Oakley, and her kitten, Princess. Kendra has many friends and is well-known in the community, but most of all she lets everyone know that her mom is her best friend. Her smile lights up the room!

Kayla Helferich
Kayla is 9 years old and in the third grade in South Carolina. She is a proud big sister to brother Lucas. Kayla is a friendly and outgoing girl who enjoys playing dress-up, being outside, creating art, dancing ballet, having dance parties, and going to the beach and water parks. As a “military brat,” she has learned to easily transition to new schools, homes and different states. In 2011 Kayla won a $25,000 scholarship as the grand-prize winner in Prevent Blindness America’s Most Beautiful Eyes contest.

Sebastian Hernandez
Sebastian is 9 years old and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his parents. He is going to school at Woodlin Elementary in the third grade. He is very active and curious, likes to draw and paint, and maybe someday will be painter like his grandfather! Sebastian loves reading books, listening to music and watching movies (his favorite movies are “Star Wars”). But what he likes the most is playing games on his Wii. Sebastian is a happy boy, learning little by little about everything in this world. He is very outgoing and loves having friends.

Darian Holman
Darian is 16 years old from Washington, DC. He is home-schooled and is involved with many activities. Darian is an usher at his church, Victory Christian Ministries International, where he also participates in the teen ministry. He is also involved in Health Services for Children – Kids in Action program, and KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now), and he takes cooking classes at First United Lutheran Church. Darian participated in the Global Down Syndrome Foundation Dare to Play Football camp for children with Down syndrome held in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2012. He is very excited to be participating in the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Gala.

Kayla Kosmalski
Kayla is 6 years old, lives in Delaware and is in the first grade. She can read, write, add and subtract. She loves making new friends and enjoys music, hip hop, tap, ballet, cheerleading, swimming and shopping and has been diagnosed with “Bieber Fever.” She is an amazing self-advocate, having met with her senators and congressman to help get the ABLE Act passed. She was selected to represent children with disabilities throughout Delaware as the 2012 DFRC Blue All-Star Buddy of the year. Kayla was also featured in the New York Times Best Seller “Bloom,” by Kelle Hampton. Currently, Kayla is in the “Miss You Can Do It” documentary on HBO. When Kayla grows up, she wants to be famous (or Mary Poppins).

Scotty Lesmes
Scotty is a 17-year-old student at The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland. He enjoys basketball, playing the drums, singing, dancing and acting. He currently enjoys singing and dancing to both country music and hip hop, but his dream is to be a famous actor and one day walk the red carpet. He lives in Chevy Chase with his mom, dad, three sisters and dog, Boomer. Scotty was a model in the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s 2011 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Gala in Washington, DC, where he walked the runway with a Baltimore Ravens cheerleader.

Jeremiah Malik Perry
Jeremiah is a 7-year-old who lives in Greenbelt, Maryland. He has a smile that can light up a room. This first-grader is very charismatic and enjoys socializing with his peers. He has overcome several surgeries, the biggest one being open-heart surgery at 5 months old. He is a very loving person who likes to have fun. He enjoys music, sports, and, of course, “iCarly,” “Victorious” and The Fresh Beat Band. His favorite food is pizza. Jeremiah works very hard in school and has made great strides in his inclusive classroom. Although he has overcome great obstacles, he continues to struggle with convincing society and his school district to see him as a person and not a disability.

Sophia Pineda
Sophia is 9 years old and is a vibrant and enthusiastic second-grader in Fredericksburg, Virginia. As a baby, Sophia had two open-heart surgeries and thrived with a keen sense of humor. Sophia loves performing and has studied ballet for four years, dancing as a Petite Mouse or an Arabian Gift Bearer in performances of “The Nutcracker.” She is active in Brownie Girl Scouts and in Special Olympics’ Young Athletes program. As a self-advocate, she has traveled to Capitol Hill to meet members of Congress. She enjoys being with her family, learning to read, pretending to cook, climbing, swimming on Cape Cod, and waging a charm offensive against the world. When she has a quiet moment, she dresses up her long-suffering beagle, Scout.

Cole Rodgers
Cole is the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s 2013 Ambassador. He is 6 years old and loves music, school and peanut butter. His family is from Eastern Washington State, but most of the time, he lives in Washington, D.C., where his mom, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, is a congresswoman. He has a little sister, Grace. Cole spends most of his time playing. He loves music, cars and kicking balls, and he has fun at school with his friends in kindergarten. Along with his teachers, his mom and dad help him learn through my homework, teach him how to behave and teach him to care about others. His parents think that he needs to learn all of the same lessons as everyone else.

Alex Sessions
Alex is 19 and lives in Dallas, Texas. He is in 11th grade and is looking forward to vocational training at the Notre Dame School of Dallas. He was the Global Down Syndrome’s 2011 Ambassador and the 2012 recipient of the Respectful Commitment Award from the New York ARC, and a proud Eagle Scout. As a Special Olympian he has medaled in track, basketball and swimming. He spends his free time watching action movies, dancing and listening to music, especially Michael Jackson. He loves being a public speaker and likes giving the prayer, especially to large groups.

Frank Stephens
Frank, a Global Messenger for Special Olympics from Fairfax, Virginia, uses his special gifts to be a spokesperson for himself and others similarly situated. In October of 2012, he was at the center of a very public debate over the continued power of the “r-word” to casually demean people with intellectual disabilities. Frank wrote an open letter to a well-known political commentator Ann Coulter after her use of the term to describe the President. As a result of his letter “going viral” and his appearance on “Piers Morgan Tonight,” Frank has made more than 3 million new friends via social media who agree with him that there is no place in polite discourse for the “r-word.” Frank, also an actor, is featured in a film called “The Senior Prank.” He has also written a film, “Common Dreams,” that he hopes to take to production this fall.