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Global Honors Supermodel Amanda Booth with Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award
From Down Syndrome WorldTM 2019 Issue 3 of 4
What happens when a supermodel has a baby with Down Syndrome? Well, she gets him a modeling contract too (obviously)!.
AMANDA BOOTH TRAVELS the world for her career, modeling in fashion editorials and advertising campaigns for companies and publications such as Italian Vogue, Lancôme, Elle, Target, and more. She also has appeared in network television shows such as “Community,” “Hot in Cleveland,” and “Maron.” Yet, Amanda credits her greatest journey to one that takes place right in her own home: parenting her son, Micah, who happens to have Down syndrome. In 2014, Amanda and her husband, Mike, became first-time parents, with all the same questions and fears new parents typically have, plus one that took them by surprise: What is Down syndrome?
The couple embraced Micah from the beginning, and by the time he was 2 years old, his mom had already secured him a modeling contract as well — an act of a mother ’s love but also an act of advocacy for people with Down syndrome in the modeling industry. “We wanted to show the world how beautiful Down syndrome is,” says Amanda.
“We wanted to show the world how beautiful Down syndr ome is,” says Amanda.
Amanda started to share her inspiring journey of motherhood on her social media accounts @lifewithmicah and @amanda_booth. Micah’s story then spread to magazines and online publications, ranging from feature stories and interviews with journalists to guest blogs and articles written by Amanda herself. The mother and son pair have been featured in Harper’s Bazaar US and Australia, Glamour Magazine UK, Mother’s Magazine, Down Syndrome World, The Mighty, and more. Most recently, in September, they were on the cover of Vogue Living Netherlands, making Micah the first person with Down syndrome to be featured on a Vogue magazine cover.
Amanda has used her modeling for fashion retailer Anthropologie to promote Global as well. As the face of the mega brand’s Mother’s Day campaign, Amanda helped raise thousands of dollars for Global’s research and medical care. This year, Amanda will be awarded Global’s prestigious Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award at the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, the largest fundraiser for Down syndrome in the world.
A PERSONAL JOURNEY OF LIFE, LOVE & ACTIVISM
Amanda and Mike did not learn that Micah had Down syndrome until he was 4 months old.
“I had never met someone with Down syndr ome before. We had a lot of fears, questions, and concerns about what that meant.”
About three years later, Micah received the dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. “Because we got to know Micah as Micah first, his official diagnosis didn’t feel heavy. Ultimately, it was just words on a piece of paper. He was still our funny, lively boy who we love and care for.”
Mike, who is extremely supportive of Amanda’s advocacy, agrees.”
“We believe that Micah will ha ve a wonderful, full life. But we do need to make sure he has access to ex cellent health care.”
Micah was born with hypothyroidism and a very weak immune system. As a result, his interactions with the outside world were limited, and his growth and development were stunted.
“It wasn’t until Micah’s pediatrician looked beyond the fact that it was typical for kids with Down syndrome to have a weak immune
system and instead addressed Micah’s health in a more adequate way that he started to get better,” Amanda remembers.
After receiving the correct diagnosis and taking proper medications, Micah’s health was thriving.
“It’s not enough to accept that certain things happen as a part of a condition like Down syndrome. The key to our children’s future is understanding why and how we can help them receive excellent medical care.”
Amanda says their advocacy work happened very organically.
“We already had been given this large platform through my career and social media,” says Amanda, whose Instagram accounts have more than 150,000 followers combined. “When we learned that Micah would have Down syndrome, it felt like our purpose to share our journey with the world.”
She and Mike started receiving letters from families asking questions and thanking them.
“It wasn’t until then that we started to realize how much we were actually helping families,” Amanda says. “We remember what it felt like getting the diagnosis, so we shared it all, the beautiful moments and the struggles.”
As Micah’s face became more well known in the social media and Down syndrome communities, organizations and publications began reaching out to feature their family. Amanda started writing for and being featured in parent magazines. So while working hard to be good a mother and a successful model and actress, Amanda took on another big job as an activist.
CONNECTING WITH GLOBAL
“Global really opened our eyes to the disparity in research funding for Down syndrome from our National Institutes of Health,” Amanda explains.
When Micah was still a baby, Amanda and Global’s President and CEO connected by phone and talked for over an hour, bonding immediately over their children. Later that year, Amanda, Mike, and Micah attended Global’s annual Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, which Amanda defines as a transformational moment in their journey.
“Micah had just turned 1, and it was still a very scary time for us,” Amanda remembers. “But when we walked into the fashion show, we were surrounded by thousands of people with Down syndrome and their families who were so happy. And we met incredible leaders truly making a difference in our community.”
That year, 1,400 attendees, including Hollywood celebrities such as Hillar y Swank, Queen Latifah, John C. McGinley, and more, came to Denver for the event, raising $2 million. To date, the event has raised over $18 million for Down syndrome.
“For the first time as parents, instead of feeling scared for Micah’s future, Mike and I felt excited and hopeful.”
She realized they could help families on a larger scale, by advocating for research and medical care with Global.
The family now attends the event every year, and Amanda has been a powerful spokesperson for Global, including partnering for multiple years with retailers and influencers for Global’s Mother’s Day campaign. In 2018, Amanda was the face of Global’s Mother’s Day campaign with Anthropologie, and in 2019, she rallied the support of her tribe of mommy bloggers to help Global create a special video to pay tribute to the holiday.
In addition to supporting Global’s work, Amanda has been heavily involved with other nonprofits, such as Ruby’s Rainbow and Changing the Face of Beauty.
“I’m just a mom who loves my son and wants the best life for him,” Amanda states. “I want other people to see my son the way I see him. Every person deserves to feel like they belong.”
Amanda will receive Global’s prestigious Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award along with co-awardee Megan Bomgaars at the 2019 fashion show in November. After learning of Megan’s accomplishments as an entrepreneur, TV star, and public speaker and seeing her high-fashion makeup line photos, Amanda is very excited to meet Megan and talk about their shared mission of inclusion and equality.
“I want to thank the parents before us who fought hard for our kids. People with Down syndrome are slowly being accepted into society, able to attend public school, have careers, and get married. I want to thank Global for ensuring our federal government prioritizes Down syndrome research funding to improve health outcomes,” Amanda says. “But the best way to thank them is not by saying ‘thank you’ — it’s by supporting their truly transformative, effective advocacy work.”
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