Board Member Spotlight: Betsy Larson
It’s a New Year and each month will come with its own special theme. Our theme for January is GRATITUDE.
With tremendous gratitude to those who work faithfully behind the scenes, and in honor of our 4th anniversary, we’d like to (re)introduce our fabulous Board of Managers, starting with Betsy Larson!
Betsy is our brilliant Board Secretary, the enthusiastic Program Leader of Teen Tastic, and generous assistant in many other areas, including events. She is also a HUGE soccer fan, incredible wife and mom, fitness enthusiast, and devoted sister & daughter. Betsy has a unique story and a beautiful heart, and we hope you’ll enjoy getting to know her better below!
Hi Betsy! Thanks for taking the time to tell us more about yourself! Let’s start with, what is your daytime occupation?
I am a Special Needs Financial Advisor. I help families who have children or siblings with disabilities gain more certainty in their future by coordinating their financial plan with their special needs plan.
What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?
I enjoy being active with my family, from week-long camping excursions to snowboarding at Pine Knob – even though I’m not exceptionally great at it 😊
What’s a fun fact about you that might surprise us?
I am the 4th of 13 children. 7 of my siblings are adopted, including my 4 little sisters with Down syndrome that have inspired most major decisions in my life.
When did you first get involved with GiGi’s Playhouse?
My first event with GiGi’s Playhouse was the Over the Edge fundraiser in 2019, where I raised money and rappelled from a 26-story building in Detroit.
How did you find out about GiGi’s Playhouse?
My husband found out about the Playhouse opening from a co-worker. We are lucky enough to live only about a mile from the Playhouse, so I immediately found ways to be involved, usually volunteering at Fantastic Friends on Friday nights.
What inspires you about the mission of GiGi’s Playhouse?
The fact that we are helping families and communities understand more about Down syndrome and what each person has to offer. From the programs that help empower them, to raising awareness so people with Down syndrome are accepted in every aspect of our society – I believe we are changing the World daily.
How has volunteering here impacted your life?
It has given me the opportunity to meet great people and get involved in an organization I really care about. The friends I’ve made and the relationships I am able to cultivate because of volunteering here has enriched my life in many ways. Often, I bring my 9-year-old daughter along with me, and I believe this is one small way I can instill the value of community service in her – hopefully, it’ll be passed on for generations.
Do you have a favorite memory from your experiences at GiGi’s?
I have so many great memories from my years with GiGi’s, but I have to say my favorites are either at Fantastic Friends or Teen Tastic, when we put on some music and dance and laugh and play with each other. The joy is palpable when we are all together and it stays with me for a really long time.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about individuals with Down syndrome?
That they don’t have a lot to offer in the world. If you spend even a short amount of time with a person who has Down syndrome, you will realize they are capable of so much more than society gives them credit for.
Why do you believe people with Down syndrome are an important part of our community?
I believe people with Down syndrome are an important part of our community because I believe every person is an important part of our community. I think what is great about GiGi’s Playhouse is it brings awareness to the fact that people with Down syndrome are not all that different from anyone else. They can be happy, and they can be grumpy. They can be hard-working, and they can be lazy. They can be creative, and they can be athletic. Every single individual is capable of achieving greatness and I believe GiGi’s offers the tools for them to get there.
What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse?
Do it! You will meet such amazing people and have so much fun while helping us keep our doors open so we can continue on this mission together.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.” ~ Islamic Proverb