Kentucky Derby to Return to Grand Rapids

Dr daleAnnual event will host nationally renowned doctor from University of Michigan with local ties

 Grand Rapids, MI, April, 27 – A little more than 30 years ago six families who had children with Down syndrome gathered together. Their original aim was to provide support and share knowledge with other families.  Today, the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan (DSAWM) serves more than 300 member families across twelve counties in West Michigan: Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa and Van Buren.

In 2004, the Winners Cup Benefit was created to raise funding for the Down syndrome community in West Michigan. Proceeds from the annual Kentucky Derby party and auction helps to fund the vital supports, programs and services provided by the DSAWM.  Since its inception, the Benefit has raised more than $1,200,000.

The 2016 Winners Cup Benefit will be held on Saturday, May 7th at Kent Country Club.  Guests are greeted by a professional show horse as they arrive in their best “Derby” attire including the famously stylish hats and dresses for the ladies.  The event will again feature the ever-popular Best Hat & Dapper Dan Contests, hand rolled cigar bar, silent & live auctions and live music by West Michigan favorite, Nine Mile Smile.
This year’s guest speaker is Dr. Dale Ulrich, a Professor in the School of Kinesiology and Chair of the Movement Sciences Program at the University of Michigan. His research focus is in the conduct of evidence-based developmental research to improve health and functioning in infants and children with Down syndrome and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Since arriving at the University of Michigan in 1999, Dr. Ulrich has been funded by the federal government for research and training new faculty to conduct evidence based research. He is most proud to be one of the very few University of Michigan faculty to be funded by the Steelcase Foundation to bring his research projects to infants, children, and their families living in Kent County and western Michigan. Many of his federal research grants were made possible by first conducting pilot studies funded by Steelcase.

“Serving the DSAWM fulfills a strong mission for us.  We believe that intentionality and understanding of cognitive impairment can transform our community and bring inclusion and opportunity, particularly for individuals with Down syndrome. The goal is to remove the barriers that set us apart.  Our community’s work in smoothing this path positively colors the adage that says ‘the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who are most vulnerable’,” stated 2016 event chairpersons Michael and Jaimie Lomonaco.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting the DSAWMF at 616-956-3488 or via the website at

About the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan Foundation

The Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan Foundation (DSAWMF) was established to provide a permanent source of principal, in order that funds would be available in the future for to support individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the West Michigan communities in which they live, work and play. DSAWMF is a separate not-for-profit organization from the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan (DSAWM), funded by cash, securities and other assets, and helps to fund the vital programs, supports and services provided by DSAWM.

Annually, one in nearly 700 babies is born with Down Syndrome, making it the most commonly occurring chromosomal abnormality.  Each of these babies will have some manner of cognitive delay and be at an increased risk for certain medical conditions.  As they grow older and navigate through life, those initial challenges will be compounded by daunting social barriers and stereotypes. DSAWMF believes in creating communities that embrace down syndrome, empowering individuals with Down syndrome and promoting opportunities for meaningful lives. The support of community members like you is crucial to this vision.