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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Fundraiser, comedy events benefit Down Syndrome community

2/27/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Stand Up for Downs will host a fundraiser, Get Down For Down Syndrome, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Fairlawn Country Club. The organization was created in 2012 by Rob and Ellen Snow, pictured above with sons Charlie, now 10, and Henry, now 5.
Photo courtesy of the Snow family
FAIRLAWN — A Medina couple is working to deliver laughs to raise funds to benefit the Down Syndrome (DS) community.

Rob and Ellen Snow organized the nonprofit organization Stand Up For Downs (SUFD) in 2012 after the birth of their son, Henry, in 2009. The organization presents stand-up comedy shows in support of programs and services that benefit the DS community. It also presents an annual fundraiser.

On March 21 from 7:30 p.m. to midnight, SUFD will present its second annual Get Down For Down Syndrome fundraising event at Fairlawn County Club, 200 N. Wheaton Road. The event, sponsored by the Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board, is the organization’s biggest fundraiser, according to event organizer Rob Snow.

“There will be no comics performing, but the 1970s’ theme of the event will provide many laughs,” said Snow.

Natalie Herbick, of Fox 8 Cleveland’s “New Day Cleveland,” will be the master of ceremonies, and 1970s’ disco entertainment and dancing, as well as a silent auction, a chance raffle and other activities, are planned. There also will be an open bar and hors d’oeuvres, and disco attire is being encouraged.

Snow explained the fundraiser works in conjunction with the comedy presentations to benefit the DS community.

“We began these because of the incredible need we saw for more money going to some of the charities around the country that are focused on research, adoption, awareness, advocacy and local support for the DS community,” said Snow. “Down syndrome is the least funded genetic condition among the National Institutes of Health, despite it being the highest occurring.”

Snow said he worked for three years in comedy in the late 1990s in Chicago, then got a “real job, wife and family.” He is a national account executive for Genex Services Inc. He returned to comedy in 2009, and shortly afterward, he and his wife welcomed their second son, Henry, who was born with DS.

In October 2011, he presented a show called “We Need a Sign,” which used humor to discuss the commonalities in raising a child with special needs.

“Going out to clubs, traveling to gigs and working a day job wasn’t the most well-received schedule to a wife at home with two boys, one of which has special needs,” said Snow. “I thought that if I turned it into a charitable venture, I could help those with DS and continue doing comedy.”

Thus, SUFD was born. The organization includes a board of directors comprised of: Snow, who serves as executive director; his wife, Ellen, who serves as treasurer and secretary; attorney Jennifer Towell, legal director; Christy Creative Social Media Marketing founder Shon Christy, marketing director; Cody Heeney, advertising director; and Josh Womack, venue and talent director.

SUFD events raise funds for the DS community through the production and presentation of the live stand-up comedy shows using local talent, donations from those in comedy and its annual fundraising event, according to Snow.

He added the comedy events have begun to gain a national following, and this year shows are being presented in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. In Ohio, a recurring show takes place in Medina, and shows are planned for Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. Last year, a comedy show was presented at the Tangier in West Akron.

The SUFD comedy and fundraiser events raised $50,000 in its first year, with everything after expenses donated to various charities, said Snow.

Tickets for the fundraiser are $75 per person, and sponsorships are still available.

For tickets, more information about the event or the organization, or to make a donation, contact Snow at 773-263-0772 or visit www.standupfordowns.org.

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