Von Miller, Case Keenum, Brandon McManus, Justin Simmons, Jeff Heuerman and Phillip Lindsay joined celebrities and advocate models to hit the runway at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation's 10th Anniversary Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show.
DENVER — At the start of 2018's Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Case Keenum dissected his fashion choice for the event.
"Uh, a black suit with a gray tie."
Less than two hours later, he'd be wearing something much flashier — Von Miller's shiny gold-and-blue flower-patterned jacket.
It didn't come cheap. Keenum put up $35,000 for it as Jamie Foxx conducted a live auction before everyone strutted down the runway. And not only that — Foxx brought in another bid of $30,000 from another guest, who then got the backup jacket Miller's stylist had made.
Keenum wasn't content just to pick up the coat once the evening was over. No, he wanted to add it to his ensemble immediately. In the staging room, he slid it on. It was nearly a perfect fit. Then he paraded down the runway, showing it off before the crowd.
Yet even as bright as his new jacket was, Keenum wouldn't steal the show. Even Miller, who seemed to be the most popular man in a room that included Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Heather Graham, Jeremy Renner and John C. McGinley, wasn't able to do that.
On this night, it would have been impossible to outshine the children, young men and women, and adults who have Down syndrome expressing their confidence and personality in their finest threads in front of friends, family and strangers — and some of the NFL's and Hollywood's biggest stars.
This night was for them: to empower themselves with stories of the independent lives they lead, to advocate for greater understanding and care for people with Down syndrome and simply to have fun.
"I think it's a great organization, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, and I think they're doing amazing work and I think it's just an amazing thing to celebrate these people tonight who have done incredible things and just their attitude and spirit is so beautiful," actress Heather Graham said. "I think we could learn a lot on how to be happy and how to enjoy our lives and how to feel good about ourselves, not matter what our situation is."
Six Broncos — Keenum, Miller, Brandon McManus, Justin Simmons, Jeff Heuerman and Phillip Lindsay — attended the show, which celebrated its 10th anniversary. Having played on Thursday night, the Broncos had a rare Saturday night off, and some of their biggest stars were more than thrilled to serve as celebrity companions on the runway.
Some, like Justin Simmons, jumped at the chance in part because they have friends with Down syndrome and want to support them and help change the perception they face. For Simmons, it's his friend Evan, whom he got to know back in high school in Florida.
"There's a negative connotation nine times out of 10 for those who are misinformed about Down syndrome. It's actually the opposite," Simmons said. "They're such amazing human beings. They are so vibrant, so lively. They're so positive. There are so many things that I think — especially in our world today — that we could learn from them, in terms of just being positive to one another, in what feels like such a negative time in this world. When I heard what was going here, the 10th anniversary and that they wanted me to be a part of it, I was humbled and honored to be able to come out here, because I've seen first-hand what special kind of people that this event hosts. And I know the type of change they can affect in this world. It was hands down one of the easiest yes decisions to be able to come out tonight."
Everyone in the audience Saturday night must have felt the same way. The energy was undeniable. Smiles were undeniable. And the impact is sure to go well beyond Saturday night.
"The impact I think just for everybody here [is] to leave here with a greater understanding of what's at stake and a greater understanding of what needs to happen," actor Colin Farrell said. "Because it's really great to have this event and this night and people get caught up in it, but if we leave the halls of this hotel at 12 o'clock tonight or 1 o'clock or whatever it may be and then we don't think about it anymore, then that's not cool. We've got to take this energy, take the knowledge that's shared here, whatever feelings each individual has and take that out into the world. A raising of awareness, an ever-loudening knocking on the doors of those in government who, I feel, are morally, ethically, socially obliged — civically obliged — to offer a great deal or a greater degree of financial support to this community."