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Former Wheaton resident helps organize comedy fundraiser

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014 8:18 p.m. CST

Two former Chicagoans have put together a comedy event that will raise money to benefit Down syndrome research.

The Stand Up For Downs comedy show will take place Sept. 27 at Fitz’s Spare Keys in Elmhurst.

Rob Snow and his wife, Ellen Snow, who grew up in Wheaton, organized Stand Up For Downs in 2012 and had the first show in 2013. Rob said they organized the event with a mission to “enhance the lives of people with Down syndrome through comedy.”

The Snows also have a personal reason to get involved. Their 5-year-old son, Henry, was born with Down syndrome. Rob said they began to realize the funding for organizations dealing with Down syndrome was limited.

“There is a lack of funding that different organizations are working on with the National Institute of Health. But that was the reason for starting this event,” he said.

The show runs from 8 p.m. to midnight. Tickets cost $95 and can be purchased at www.standupfordowns.org. Tickets include an open bar, Chicago-style food, comedy, entertainment, pool, bowling and a silent auction.

Rob said they expect 200 to 300 people to attend.

Stand Up For Downs has had shows across the country, including Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., but this is the first in the Chicago area.

Rob and Ellen both lived in Chicago for 15 years before moving to a suburb of Cleveland in 2008. Rob said he was able to use his connections to the Chicago comedy circuit to book acts for the show.

A friend suggested he look at Fitz’s Spare Keys as a venue. Rob said it was “perfect” and a “super cool location.”

The show’s headliner is Matt Braunger, who has been a regular on “Mad TV,” “Up All Night” and “Chelsea Lately.” He’s had two Comedy Central specials and has been on the “Late Show With David Letterman” and Conan O’Brien’s show.

Pat McGann, a Chicago comic who has been on the “Late Show With David Letterman,” also will perform.

Rob said the comedians are picked carefully and have to be comics who will not make fun of disabilities or people with disabilities.

“It’s important at our shows to choose the right people,” he said.

After each show, 75 percent of the money raised is donated to regional organizations. Rob said money from the Elmhurst show will benefit Special Olympics Illinois, the National Association for Down Syndrome and LuMind, a cognitive research company.

Since its first show, Stand Up For Downs has generated more than $110,000.

“It’s been wild. We grew and raised more money faster than we expected,” Ellen said. “And that is a wonderful thing.”

Rob said according to the National Association for Down Syndrome, the life expectancy of people with Down syndrome has increased from 25 in the 1980s to 61.

“I think that’s a really good start to show all of this is working,” he said. “It’s all been effective.”

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If you go

What: Stand Up For Downs comedy festival

When: 8 p.m. to midnight Sept. 27

Where: Fitz's Spare Keys, 119 N. York St., Elmhurst

Cost: Tickets are $95 and can be purchased at www.standupfordowns.org. Proceeds will go to Special Olympics Illinois, the National Association for Down Syndrome and LuMind.

Information: www.standupfordowns.org

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