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Spotlight on Keegan Turner at annual gala in D.C. [Marriottsville/Sykesville/Woodstock]

In February, Marriottsville resident Keegan Turner, a second grade student at West Friendship Elementary School, auditioned as a model for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation's fourth annual Be Beautiful, Be Yourself Gala in Washington, D.C.

This formal affair functions as both a fundraiser and an opportunity to honor those who have made a contribution to Down syndrome advocacy and research. Patrons enjoy cocktails and dinner, live musical entertainment and a fashion show featuring models with Down syndrome.

Keegan's mom, Hayley Turner, says that her son was very excited to dress up for the audition and enjoyed the attention. Clearly, his enthusiasm shone because he was one of 19 models selected out of nearly 80 applicants.

Also among this year's models are Cole Rodgers, son of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.), and DeOndra Dixon, sister of actor Jamie Foxx. Go to http://www.globaldownsyndrome.org/events/be-beautiful-be-yourself-gala-washington-d-c/2014-be-beautiful-be-yourself-dc-gala-models/ to read the models' biographies.

On May 7, all of these exceptional individuals walked the runway at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel along with their escorts — local celebrities, professional athletes and politicians — wearing attire provided by Bloomingdale's. Turner says that she, husband Chris, and their older children, Gavin and Atley, have been very excited about Keegan's involvement. Congratulations, Keegan, on your fun modeling gig!

Go to http://www.globaldownsyndrome.org to keep an eye out for next year's audition and gala dates.

Need a gift for Mother's Day? St. Andrew's Episcopal Church will host its annual Flower, Herb and Vegetable Sale on Saturday, May 10, and Sunday, May 11, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 2892 Route 97, in Glenwood. The plant assortment will include annuals, cutting garden flowers, hanging baskets, vegetables, herbs and, of course, Mother's day planters!

All proceeds will support the church's annual Youth Pilgrimage in July.

Although many Americans believe that human trafficking occurs only in less-developed countries, it does indeed take place here in the U.S. Defined as the purchase and sale of human beings for the purpose of forced labor or sexual exploitation, human trafficking is tantamount to slavery. We may unknowingly support the trade when we purchase certain clothing or food, and trafficked people may even live within our communities.

According to Rosemary Thompson, executive director of the P. Francis Murphy Initiative for Justice and Peace, the best way to combat this scourge is to educate law enforcement officials and the public at large. She will present "Human Trafficking: a Call to Action" on Thursday, May 15, 7-9 p.m., at the Retreat and Conference Center at Bon Secours, 1525 Marriottsville Road. A freewill offering will be collected.

To learn more, go to rccbonsecours.com or call 410-442-3120.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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