Volunteer Spotlight: Steven and Aidelni

Meet Steven and Aidelni Martinez Hykes, a dynamic duo whose journey led them from Phoenix, Arizona, to Canton, where they’ve embraced their roles as active members of the GiGi’s Playhouse community. Celebrating nearly a decade of marriage and raising a blended family, including daughters Stephanie, Natalia, and the youngest, Zoë, who was born with Down syndrome in 2017, Steven and Aidelni embody resilience and commitment. Their shared passions for hiking, exercise, family travel, and savoring seafood and pizza reflect their zest for life. However, it’s their dedication to serving at GiGi’s Playhouse that truly shines. From volunteering in the GiGiFIT Adult program to serving on committees and the board, Steven and Aidelni epitomize the spirit of giving back. Their favorite experience? Witnessing the supportive community within GiGiFIT Adult classes and the invaluable connections formed, offering hope and inspiration for Zoë’s future. As advocates for inclusivity and empowerment, Steven and Aidelni exemplify the heart and soul of GiGi’s Playhouse Canton, where every individual is celebrated and valued. 

The GiGiFIT programs are designed to address common issues for individuals with Down syndrome including hypotonia, excessive joint laxity, and decreased balance. Every GiGiFIT program is safe, effective, and progressive. GiGiFIT helps participants build strength, endurance, power, joint stability, balance, and movement control. GiGiFIT empowers participants to be more independent and confident in their abilities while improving their overall health and wellness! Learn more about GiGiFIT HERE!

1.Name: 

Steven and Aidelni Martinez Hykes 

2.Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Steven and Aidelni moved to Canton from Phoenix, Arizona. They are coming up on their 9 year anniversary and they have a blended family consisting of older daughters Stephanie 22, Natalia 21 and then Zoë 6 who was born in 2017 with Down syndrome. 

3.We want to get to know you! What are some of your favorites? (food, color, season, activity, restaurant, place to shop, etc.) 

Aidelni and Steven share a love of hiking, exercise and family travel. Fall has been really nice to have as a season. Aidelni is a big fan of seafood and Steven eats lots of pizza. Finding new playgrounds for Zoë to visit and getting ice cream are fun summer activities. 

4.How did you learn about GiGi’s and what prompted you to become a volunteer? 

When Zoë was born in Tucson, AZ the resources were pretty limited. We had heard of Gigi’s but it was in Phoenix and we did not yet live there. When we moved, to Phoenix, we attended a few times, but it was still Covid and distance made being regular participants difficult. When we moved to the Canton area, we knew we wanted to be more active in the Down Syndrome community and were thrilled to find a home that was close to a Gigi’s Playhouse. It has been amazing to see the Gigi’s Canton community from birth to adults and the unlimited potential. 

5.What is your role at the Playhouse? 

Program Volunteer – GiGiFIT Adult 

Committee Member 

Board Member 

6.Tell us more about what you do at the Playhouse! 

Steven and Aidelni have been serving as assistants with the Adult GiGiFIT for the past 3 sessions. Steven also serves on the GiGi’s Board, filling the role of treasurer. We also have brought Zoë to past sessions of Leaps and Bounds, GiGiFIT Kids and some open play. 

7.What is your favorite experience you have had at the Playhouse? 

We have been really encouraged by the community in the GiGiFIT Adult class. The participants genuinely root for each other and have formed bonds over the years that are evident in their interactions. Also the bond that Steve Powell has formed with the class as the lead is something that gives us so much hope for Zoë’s future. Without the care of volunteers, the Playhouse would not be able to give so many free services. 

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