Thursday, May 9, 2013
Supermodel spotlights Down syndrome
Supermodel Beverly Johnson is in town this week to raise awareness of Down syndrome in her role as an international spokeswoman for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, and she wants one thing in particular out of Washington: more money.
“It’s one of the least funded disorders,” Johnson told POLITICO. “There’s just a lot of research that needs to be done, and we need dollars to do it.”
Johnson did her part to raise money for the cause at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington on Wednesday, where she appeared at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation Gala & Fashion Show, featuring Sheryl Crow and Quincy Jones. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Chris Van Hollen also were honored with the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award for their support of individuals with Down syndrome.
In promotional material for the event, the foundation stated “that Down syndrome is the most frequent chromosomal condition affecting an estimated 400,000 Americans, but is the least funded genetic condition by the National Institutes of Health [NIH], securing only 0.0007 percent of NIH’s 2012 $31 billion budget.”
Johnson, however, is optimistic that Washington can take action on improving the situation.
“We just really want to shine that spotlight and get people to write those checks and to also make Congress aware of the funding that we need for this very serious issue,” Johnson said. “I am very optimistic. I believe in people, and I believe in Congress. … I know that this is something that should be very high on the list and it’s just something that we haven’t made the effort and now we’re making the effort.”
Johnson rose to fame in the 1970s when she became the first African-American woman to grace the cover of Vogue. Given her expertise, we had her weigh in on Washington’s reputation as being “Hollywood for ugly people.”
Johnson treated the District kindly.
“I love D.C.,” she said. “You’re gorgeous.”