Why GiGi’s? By Canton Board Member, Christina

Between August 2015-March 2017 sometimes I would ask “why”.  I wish someone had been counting how many times these thoughts flashed through my head.  Why was my 3rd daughter born with Down syndrome.  Why were we chosen for this journey?  Why did we have to deal with the uncertainty of having a child with a disability? Until one day I decided to stop focusing on the “why” and do something!

Since that day in August of 2015, when our youngest daughter was born I have seen things in my family and myself I didn’t know existed.  My two older daughters are great advocates for Down syndrome and for all people with disabilities for that matter.  They have compassion for others that runs deep.  They are willing to speak to others about Down syndrome and how being your personal best is all that really matters.  My husband has a lot of passions-football, sports, history, and now Down syndrome.  He is proud of our girls and all they accomplish and will proudly speak to anyone how some of the scariest days in his life have transformed him to the person he is today.  For me….I am one of those people who was always willing to dream and accomplish my dreams.  But since that August day, three and a half years ago, opportunities for me to make change have come even faster than ever before.  I know that taking chances is necessary if you want to make change and here we are!  Monroe plows through the hard times to meet her goals and she doesn’t complain (well sometimes she does but she is a preschooler).  There is no talk of “I can’t” in our house.

All of these thoughts just lingered in my head until one day, almost two years ago, I posted on Facebook about GiGi’s Playhouse.  In Ohio there is a location in Cleveland and it sounded wonderful.  No one had really ever heard of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers and people were curious.  After my Facebook post a group of people met me at a local Panera and we talked about what this would mean for our community, why it was needed, and what it would mean for our kids from diagnosis into adulthood.  It was this day in the corner of that Panera that I made some new friends.  That day my family made a connection to others that I had desperately longed for the year and a half prior.  It was this day that a vision was shared and a dream began.  It was this day that the “why” became clear!

So here we are, in February of 2019.  We are in the last stretch of a 2 year adventure of bringing a resource to families, a place to offer opportunities, a place that will transform our communities. Everytime any of us has asked “why” we can look at our families and be revitalized in our mission.  And next time someone receives a diagnosis and they are not sure of “why” they were given this child with Down syndrome they will have a door to walk through that will show them that not only will everything be okay but they will become part of a community so much bigger than themselves!

My “why” has turned into a dream come true….Gigi’s Playhouse opens in the Spring of 2019!


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