Celebrating Our Friends with Down Syndrome: GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland’s 2024 Dash for Down Syndrome

What an unforgettable morning we had at GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland’s 2024 Dash for Down Syndrome! It was a day filled with celebration, advocacy, and community, all dedicated to our incredible friends with Down syndrome. With the sun shining and perfect blue skies overhead, around 1,200 wonderful individuals gathered to make this event the largest across our network of 59 Playhouses.

We had the honor of beginning our event with a moving performance of the National Anthem by self-advocate Johnny Mural. Johnny has worked tirelessly for over a year to sing the anthem at a Cleveland Guardians game and even a Presidential Inauguration. His powerful rendition set the perfect tone for the day, embodying the spirit of determination and achievement that defines GiGi’s Playhouse.

Our day kicked off with the 3.21-mile Dash for Down Syndrome, a testament to our community’s commitment to acceptance and inclusion by going a little EXTRA than your normal 5k length. Participants of all ages ran, walked, and dashed with joy and determination, showcasing the spirit of unity that defines GiGi’s Playhouse.

The Team Inspirational Walk was a heartwarming highlight, as families and teams walked down Detroit Avenue, stopping for photo ops in front of the Playhouse, capturing memories of a day filled with smiles and camaraderie. This event provided the perfect opportunity for families and friends to bond, strengthening old friendships and forming new ones, all while celebrating their loved ones with Down syndrome.

As the morning progressed, we gathered for the award ceremony, a special moment to honor the incredible efforts of our participants. Every individual received a trophy, symbolizing their achievement and contribution to this inspiring day. We celebrated the top fundraising team, the top fundraising individual, the team with the most spirit, and the team with the most people in attendance. Each award reflected the dedication and love within our community. We also took a heartfelt moment to honor the teams who walked for their loved ones who are no longer with us, presenting them with the three upward arrows for their home, representing our community’s strength, support, and unity.

We are thrilled to announce that we surpassed our fundraising goal, raising over $137,000! This incredible achievement ensures that we can continue offering our FREE purposeful programming, making a profound impact on the lives of our participants and their families. The event allowed everyone to connect and share their journeys, building a network of support and understanding that extends beyond the day’s activities.

None of this would have been possible without the unwavering support of our families, volunteers, and sponsors. Your passion and dedication shine through in every moment, creating a warm and welcoming environment for all. This day was made possible by the best team of families, volunteers, and supporters who came together to advocate for acceptance, inclusion, and kindness.

Thank you to everyone who attended, donated, or cheered us on from afar. Your support means the world to us, and together we are making a difference. This event allowed us to unite as a community and celebrate our loved ones. As we look back on this day, we are filled with gratitude and excitement for the future. GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland will continue to advocate for and celebrate our friends with Down syndrome, and we can’t wait to see what we can achieve together next year!

All photos were taken by Markus Photography, LLC. To see more photos from the event, click the tab below.

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