Scrappy – the word our Board President used to describe our playhouse. The perfect word for the last year, a year that was challenging yet fulfilling. Last year we launched GiGi’s at Home, a virtual platform that would allow our participants to continue our much-needed programs in the comfort and safety of their homes, this allowed us to support more participants than ever before, in countries all over the world. This year we still faced challenges with COVID-19, regression from our participants spending a year with virtual learning, stress on our financials with the inability to do any in person events last year, and more families to serve than ever before. This year instead of choosing to give up, we picked the playhouse up by the bootstraps and decided to try things we have never done before, we were…scrappy… to ensure that we will be there for our families for years to come.
In 2021 we:
- Hosted our first ever Mixology Night, Golf Outing, and Brew Ha Ha!
- Finished in the top three playhouses across the country for the GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge because of amazing families, volunteers, friends, and donors like you!
- Represented our Deerfield playhouse at the GiGi’s National Conference on a panel about peer to peer fundraising.
- Said a grateful “thank you” to the board president and vice president who opened our playhouse and voted in new ones!
- Worked with an amazing eagle scout and his team to upgrade our multi-purpose room with custom storage and two rock walls!
- Met an amazing anonymous family who donated a brand-new refrigerator and toaster oven to go with the renovated cabinets in our kitchen. This is paving the way for us to start GiGi’s Kitchen – a cooking program for participants 5-12, 13-17 and 18 and up in 2022!
- Launched brand new programs and partnered to support local businesses like Art Explosion with our friends at Kaleidoscope
- School of Fine Arts in Barrington and Yoga with Body & Brain.
- Brought back family favorite programs like GiGiFIT Infant and Tot Talks (a program that was developed right here at our Deerfield playhouse).
- Spoke to local schools and their students about the importance of acceptance and inclusion.
- Welcomed MORE new families to the playhouse than ever before. The Playhouse had so much success and growth in our
- LMNOP program that along with the weekly session we added a Saturday option once a month!
One of the lessons learned through the challenges of the last year is just how important our connection to our families, volunteers and donors is. Our annual 5K was our first large gathering in over a year. With over 300 attendees at Adler Park we safely ran, walked, played games, and danced with our amazing network. There was magic at the park that day as friends who had not seen each other in a year were able to catch up, parents and participants who had only ever seen each other over a computer screen were finally able to meet in person, and we were all together in our united celebration of people with Down syndrome. A huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who made it possible. We will see you on June 4th, 2022!
We are so proud of how far we have come in three years. Thank you to every person who has donated, volunteered, participated in a program or event, liked or shared any of our social media pages or just sent positive thoughts our way. Without all of you doing what you do, we would never have been able to provide our important therapeutic and educational programs FREE to the families that need them. From a prenatal diagnosis through career skills for adults we will be there for families every step of the way and we look forward to the journey ahead. We can’t wait to show you all the new things we have planned for 2022! Thank you for believing in us, believing in the potential of individuals with Down syndrome, and thank you for believing in acceptance for all.
GiGi’s Playhouse Deerfield
In the year 2018 I received a great surprise. I was pregnant. My daughter Gabriela was diagnosed with Down syndrome. It was sad but at the same time I knew that I had to fight very hard. I had no idea where to start and then they told me about GiGi's. GiGi's opened a door to start receiving the help we needed. We felt as if we were welcomed by a great family of professional people who know what is best for families and children. Something unforgettable at the playhouse was was the first steps Gaby took by herself in her therapy with Mary. Gaby has learned to sing and sometimes frown a little on Fridays at LMNOP. We happily wait each week to see our friends and play. I want to thank Nancy and GiGi for making this place possible. It is a great blessing. Thank you GiGi's Deerfield for all your support and understanding for Gaby and the Ramirez family.