Getting a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome is scary. Most obstetricians do not present this diagnosis in a very positive light; my experience was like they were breaking devastating news to me. My husband and I were left feeling frightened, uneducated, and alone. I started to research support groups and immediately found GiGi’s Playhouse. From the moment you walk through the doors, you are family, greeted with big, warm hugs, and even bigger “congratulations!!”. We talked about my twin pregnancy, our families, and all the FREE programming and support that GiGi’s offered. We left feeling excited, hopeful, and grateful. How lucky were we that the national headquarters in Hoffman Estates was 10 minutes from our home?! People need to know about this amazing place!
On the day Lucy and her brother were born, it took her daddy and I half a second to fully understand what an incredible human being she is. So full of light and beauty. She may only be (not quite) two years old but she has taught my family and I so much. This girl has had more than her fair share of medical issues (we’ve had more Lurie’s Children’s Hospital stays than I would like to admit), but through it all, Lucy remains sweet, strong, kind, and positive. She teaches us to live in the present and be happy with each moment. Her smile and laugh are so devastatingly infectious that not even the most hard-nosed of doctors is immune to her charms. I am constantly awed and inspired by her. I once read some good advice; if you want to know how to treat a child with special needs, simply look to their siblings who treat them with absolute love and acceptance right from the start. That is exactly how it should be. It has been my husband and I’s greatest joy watching Lucy with her twin brother and big sister. They are pure perfection together and an ideal microcosm of how the world should treat everyone with different abilities. We are so excited to watch Lucy grow and are positive she can achieve anything she desires.
My hope for Lucy, one day, is for the world to realize that she is more alike than different, that she has hopes and aspirations and unique abilities just like everyone else. Her progress may look a little different or take her a little longer to get there but I know, in part, it will be possible with GiGi’s support. They have programs specifically designed for her, be it a music and language program, fitness classes, or speech therapy, all the way to reading and math tutoring and GiGi’s University. I am very comforted knowing she will be supported for a long time to come. It seems that one of the playhouse’s goals is to make the rest of the community “siblings” of people with Down syndrome: full of love, respect, and acceptance. Walking into GiGi’s is always a celebration, a celebration of differences and abilities, a celebration of support and community, and, most of all, a celebration of life and FUN!! I want everyone to join in that celebration with me. I am fundraising for Team We Love Lucy and participating in the GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge because Lucy is my “why” and forever will be. – Christy Kasper
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