Singer Jordin Sparks Performs and Rep. Frankel and Rep. Hudson Honored at Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s May 9th AcceptAbility Gala in DC

Self-advocates to Receive the Rosa DeLauro & Tom Cole Advancement Awards & Local Dancers with Down Syndrome Showcase Talents

Denver, CO, April 17, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Global Down Syndrome Foundation (GLOBAL) is honoring Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL) and Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC), who will receive the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Awards for their work in  support for those with Down syndrome, during its annual AcceptAbility Gala. The gala is an inspiring fundraiser event taking place at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC on May 9th that features DC-area dancers who happen to have Down syndrome and other disabilities and a performance by Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum singer/songwriter and actress, Jordin Sparks.

“We are excited to highlight the extraordinary talents and gifts of people with Down syndrome at our AcceptAbility Gala.  It’s also a chance to honor those Members of Congress who have worked hard to ensure our community benefits from federally funded research that is improving their lives,” says Michelle Sie Whitten, President & CEO, Global Down Syndrome Foundation. “This year, we are thrilled to honor Rep. Hudson and Rep. Frankel for their unwavering support for people with Down syndrome and their families, and to thank Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rosa DeLauro, both of whom will be in attendance, for their life-changing leadership.”

GLOBAL’s annual AcceptAbility Gala brings together policymakers from both sides of the aisle, key scientists from NIH, and the Down syndrome community. With GLOBAL’s leadership bringing together multiple stakeholders, the NIH Down syndrome research and medical care budget has increased by $338 million over the last six years. The AcceptAbility Gala is an opportunity to celebrate major new federal research funding increases after years of being one of the least funded genetic conditions and to educate Congress and the community about the transformative DeOndra Dixon INCLUDE Project Act of 2024 that will elongate life and improve health outcomes for people with Down syndrome.

During the gala, GLOBAL will honor 2024 GLOBAL Ambassador Isla Eager and her family from Arlington, Virginia and present the Rosa DeLauro & Tom Cole GLOBAL Advancement Awards to two self-advocates with Down syndrome. The awards come with a $1,000 each scholarship for post-secondary education. The 2024 Gala Chairs are Julie Riccio, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy, PwC, and Amy Best Weiss, Executive VP, Global Government Affairs, American Express. Congressional Hosts include Sen. Bob Casey, Sen. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Jerry Moran, Cong. Robert Aderholt, Cong. Katherine Clark, Cong. Tom Cole, Cong. Rosa DeLauro, Cong. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Cong. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Cong. Pete Sessions, and Cong. Pete Stauber. This year’s event has 89 Members of Congress supporting it as well as the Honorary Congressional Committee. The AcceptAbility Gala is co-emceed by husband and wife team—Fox News’ John Roberts and ABC’s Kyra Phillips.

Other leaders who are participating include Frank Stephens, GLOBAL board member, GLOBAL Ambassador, self-advocate and actor, from Fairfax, VA; David Egan, Quincy Jones Awardee, gala event committee, self-advocate and author, from Vienna, VA; Robert Wallop, soloist dancer and self-advocate, from Annapolis, MD; Jan Adams, Founder & CEO JMA Solutions; Cory Alexander, Strategic Advisor, UnitedHealth Group; John Ashbrook, Founding Partner, Cavalry LLC; Kevin Brennan, Principal, Bluebird Strategies; Natalie Farr Harrison, SVP Government Relations, Avoq; Erin Book Mullen, Principal, Williams & Jensen, PLLC, Ed Mullen, Partner, Narrative Strategies; Matthew Perin, Head of Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs, Kroger; Cliff Riccio, Senior Vice President & Chief, Government Relations, NCTA; and Salo Zelermyer, Vice President for Federal Affairs and Counsel, Valero; and Dr. Joaquín Espinosa, Executive Director, Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome.

The AcceptAbility Gala supports the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, funding life-changing research and lifesaving medical care for children and adults with Down syndrome. Down syndrome is the most frequent chromosomal condition, affecting an estimated 400,000 Americans, but it has been one of the least-funded genetic condition by NIH. GLOBAL is focused on raising funds to support research, educating the public about the discrepancy in research funding, and showcasing the abilities of those with Down syndrome. It is the largest US non-profit working to save lives and dramatically improve health outcomes for people with Down syndrome.

The AcceptAbility Gala starts at 6:00 p.m. with a reception and red carpet followed by dinner, a live auction, and performances by local individuals with Down syndrome and Jordin Sparks. Tickets start at $500 and can be purchased online at To cover the event or receive photos or b-roll, contact Shawn Flaherty at 703-554-3609. For more information, visit



2024 AcceptAbility Gala Honorees

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