Colin Farrell and Zack Gottsagen Receive Excellence in Advocacy Awards at Star-Studded Event

Colin Farrell and Zack Gottsagen Source: Thomas Cooper/Getty Images North America

Zack Gottsagen, a featured actor in the upcoming action film, The Peanut Butter Falcon, received the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award on Saturday, October 20th. The award was presented to him by two of his co-stars, Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson.

In their presentation LaBeouf described Gottsagen as a “powerful human” and Johnson said that Gottsagen is both “Charming and hilarious.”

In Gottsagen’s acceptance speech, he demonstrated incredible enthusiasm for balancing ambition, responsibility, and celebration. He began, however, with gratitude. Thanking his parents and family for having supported and encouraged him. Then he thanked his co-stars, directors, and producers and finished with thanking the Global Down Syndrome Foundation for “Fighting for our rights and opportunities to pursue our dreams.”

Dakota Johnson and Zack Gottsagen Image provided by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation

He went on to tell the audience, about 1500 strong, that his interest in acting came as early as three years old. Gottsagen loves movies. In addition to acting in films and on stage, he also works at a movie theater close to his home. He reminded the crowd of their civic responsibility to vote, which brought significant agreement in the form of applause. Additionally, Gottsagen shared his ambition to “change the worldview of people with down syndrome” both through his films and with his life.

He gave words of encouragement to all people with Down syndrome. He encouraged their determination to take opportunities. In fact, earlier in the night, while on the red carpet he reminded everyone “I love you! Take care of yourself!”

To wrap up his speech, however, he let the weight of all those heavy moments slip away and took to the runway with celebratory dance moves and also encouraged his co-stars to join in.

Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Sie Whitten, Dakota Johnson and Zack Gottsagen. Photo from Be Beautiful, Be Yourself Event, provided by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation established the award in honor of Quincy Jones’ life-changing leadership in humanitarian efforts to help the disadvantaged.The award recognizes those who have championed people who are differently-abled, including people with Down syndrome, in several categories such as humanitarian work, self-advocacy, and public service.

Colin Farrell accepting the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award. Photo provided by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

The Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award was also presented to Colin Farrell whose son has Angelman’s syndrome.

Farrell is a supporter of the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics and an active supporter of several other charities, including as the official games spokesman for the Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai, China. At the podium, he mentioned his original experiences with the Special Olympics World Games in Ireland, where he witnessed great camaraderie and sportsmanship. He shared that communities benefit from this experience when hosting these games. Farrell also spoke at the platform about the importance of inclusion and that every person should have the opportunity to reach one’s potential.

Zack Gottsagen and Colin Farrell were two of several advocates and allies who took to the runway Saturday night in a ballroom which buzzed with energy and joy.

Cora Jane Thompson and Ty Dillon with Denver Bronco Justin Simmons. Photo provided by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

The event raised $2.4 million dollars for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and its affiliates to continue their mission to significantly improve the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy. Learn more about Global’s research, medical care, education and advocacy here.