The Global Down Syndrome Foundation each year hosts a fabulous event called Be Beautiful, Be Yourself. At this year’s event on November 14th,  we’re going to celebrate. We’re going to cry. We’re going to push forward. I’m the mother of an adult with Down syndrome.  There’s so much that I want to tell you, I hardly know where to begin…

Shall I start with 2020 and Covid? Of how scared I am…I fear the possibility that my very breath can bring in a virus that kills people with Down syndrome at 10x the rate of the typical population? As I work to keep our basic necessities available, how should I best balance productivity and safety? I recognize this struggle affects each family and loved one who is vulnerable at this time.

Do I begin with the amazing memory of my son Marcus’ model audition seven years ago? It was the first time we were surrounded by other people with Down syndrome and they were all dressed to the nines. The effect hit me like a blast of warm air. And Marcus was so nervous, so brave, and so annoyed by my attempts to advise him.

Then, the first year we attended The Be Beautiful, Be Yourself Gala was the first (and honestly, still only) invite I received with the dress code, “Glamorous Cocktail.” Watching the celebrities speak to the press on the red carpet is impressive, however knowing they are speaking to the importance of equal rights, improving health outcomes, and funding research that affects people with Down syndrome is the real thrill.

Which brings us back to this year, while it’s too dangerous to host the event “in person,” it’s also too important to diminish the spotlight on the work and advocacy of and for the Down syndrome population. So, Global is producing a virtual event that will knock your socks off.

In this. With Us.

Dr. Joaquín Espinosa, Executive Director, Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome

There are medical professionals, advocates, and allies in this…with us. The Be Beautiful, Be Yourself event celebrates, commemorates, and rallies around the work in process and demonstrates the call to action for the work that has yet to be done. If you love someone with Down syndrome and you and your family are feeling alone in 2020, I urge you to mark your calendar to attend this event, because it is the balm our community needs for hope and healing.

Here is the very best of good news: you can attend safely right from home with tickets available for $25 right here, glamorous cocktail attire optional.

The Models and Awards

The defining moments of the annual extravaganza include the fashion show which features self-advocate models from around the world as well as several “A list” celebrities. Models this year were filmed in living rooms and runways across the globe. These moments are empowering to us all. I’m looking forward to the compilation and the virtual cheers.

Each year Global presents The Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award, established in honor of Quincy’s life-changing leadership in humanitarian efforts to help the disadvantaged. The award recognizes those who have championed efforts in several categories such as humanitarian work, self-advocacy, and public service. This year’s recipients are Caterina Scorsone and Marián Ávila. Check out their work and all they have to share with us.


Global will also share important updates regarding Covid and the Down syndrome community, news about the recently released (much needed) medical care guidelines for adults with Down syndrome, and what’s next on the horizon in their fight to improve medical research, advocacy, and health outcomes for all people with Down syndrome.

As a mother of an adult with Down syndrome, I am proud to support the work of Global. I’ve been lucky and appreciative to rub elbows with medical professionals, researchers, and stars who advocate for and with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

My son, Marcus, has a great sense of humor and an endless creative nature. He lights up the room with his smile and, more often than not, he brings out the best in anyone he meets. In short, he makes life worthwhile. Marcus chooses to advocate for himself and others with Down syndrome. He has spoken to kids and grown-up around the world, including at the United Nations, at the World Down Syndrome Congress, and as the 2017 Ambassador of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

This year our community will also take time to commemorate the life and work of Global’s first Quincy Jones Award recipient and Global Ambassador, DeOndra Dixon.

DeOndra was a celebrity who did not need a spotlight, but rather reflected it at every Be Beautiful, Be Yourself event. My family is heartbroken at this loss and we wish our grief could somehow take away from the grief of her family; we know it cannot. We also know that grieving together can sometimes help us to heal.


For me, one of the hardest parts of 2020 is an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. Add to this the fear, the risks, and the sadness from so much loss around us and among us. This, this is why I urge you and those you care about to attend this virtual event as a reminder that we have each other and we have allies. We need to know we face this time together. We need to see our people and celebrate, commemorate, and rally. I hope you join us.