Volunteer Spotlight- Alyssa

Volunteer Spotlight- Alyssa

Program Leader: Tennis

What do you do professionally?

I am a high school ESL teacher at Naperville North. I have taught chemistry and biology for years, and now teach English, science, and math to all students who are learning English as a Second Language. This is also my 5th season as the varsity girls tennis coach at Naperville Central.

How did you become involved at GiGi’s?

When I was an assistant coach for the girls tennis team, Dan Brown was the varsity coach for a brief time and mentioned that during the boys season in the spring, GiGi’s came to play every Friday with the team. He wanted to bring the tradition to the girls team, and when I stepped into the head coach position, that was one tradition I also wanted to keep going for as many years as we could.

Why is our mission to change the way the world views Down syndrome and to send a global message of acceptance for all so important to you?

A special thank you to my parents- acceptance of all people has been the way I was raised. I have a cousin who experienced a birth trauma and has lived mostly non-verbal and with a disability his whole life, and my siblings and I were around him 4 or more days a week growing up. There were of course good days and bad, but being around him for my whole childhood taught me that everyone matters and should be accepted in this world for who they are. When I was a student at Naperville Central, being a leader in our Adapted PE program was also a very special time in my life. My senior year in particular was really exciting as one of the students who had Down syndrome won homecoming queen. Her level of excitement and gratitude was so humbling and emotional.

Do you have a special memory with a GiGi’s participant you want to share?

All of the GiGi’s participants I have met over the years have been so wonderful, and definitely fill our Friday afternoons with laughter and excitement. One participant in particular, Laura, came back for a few years and had an incredibly powerful forehand! She never got frustrated or upset, and even if she missed a shot, she would smile, laugh, and go for the high-five. Her happiness and joy for life was contagious, and helped the girls (including myself) find more joy in the little things. Thank you to Laura for making us smile and teaching us a great life lesson! 

Thank you, Alyssa for being a great program leader and sharing your talent with GiGi’s Playhouse Fox Valley participants!

If you would like to share a talent or have a desire to share time with our participants please contact us at foxvalley@gigisplayhouse.org and let us know you are interested in becoming a program leader!

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