(Canton, Ohio) – Fundraising efforts continue to officially establish a permanent home for GiGi’s Play House in the community.
GiGi’s national headquarters is in a suburb of Chicago and according to the organization’s website, GiGi’s Playhouse is a Down syndrome achievement center designed to educate, inspire and believe in all people with Down syndrome.
The mission is: ‘To change the way the world views Down syndrome through national campaigns, educational programs and by empowering individuals with Down syndrome and their families in the community.’
GiGi’s Playhouse offers free therapeutic and educational programs for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. There is no waiting list or financial criteria that must be met.
“Down syndrome is a diagnosis that affects a person and family across their lifespan and often requires multiple therapies and tutoring throughout their lives,” explained Sara Heckert, one of the mothers working to establish the facility. “There is no place currently in Stark and its surrounding counties that offers FREE supports to the individuals impacted by a Down syndrome diagnosis.”
The organization recently held an annual fundraising gala that raised approximately $30,000. The event was staffed with over 40 volunteers and saw more than 250 guests. “The atmosphere of the Brew Haha was one of love and laughter,” added Heckert. “Our guests enjoyed entertainment from the moment they arrived beginning with our magicians greeting them at check-in.” The event also featured delicious food by That Little Italian Kitchen; craft and domestic beers, wine and soda; a silent auction, three local comedy acts: The Improvaneers, Mike Conley, and Jeff Blanchard.
“Laughter was heard throughout the night,” said Heckert. “Generosity filled the air as everyone left the event with grateful hearts and minds!”
Heckert noted the organization has recently connected with a local business partner responsible for managing some commercial real estate properties in the Belden Village area and space has become available. “So, we are currently working with him to make strides towards a permanent home on the heels of our fundraiser.”
Officials have a goal to open the doors of their new building in the first quarter of 2019, specifically around March.
Another fundraising effort will be held on February 1st, 2019. The second annual Ladies Night out will take place at La Pizzaria in Canton and feature the Cleveland Keys dueling pianos for entertainment, food, and beverages. More information is expected to be announced soon.