It Takes a Village (Green): National Playhouse GFAC Wrap up! 

Children were everywhere.  

It was 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 15 at NOW Arena/Village Green, and the competition was on! 

It was time for the Kids Dash for Down syndrome as part of our National/Hoffman Estates Playhouse’s GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge (GFAC). GFAC raises awareness to support challenges in the Down syndrome community, but it also allows kids to do what they love most: run. 

Children of all ages faced off against one another. Some had Down syndrome; some didn’t, but they all sprinted together, helping one another cross the finish line. 

The Kids Dash was representative of the event as a whole. Earlier in the day, people of various ages and abilities participated in a 5k run and 1-mile walk.  

Yet, the day didn’t just spotlight current members of the community; it also looked to the future. 

Brooks, aka “Baby Brooks,” was, by all accounts, the youngest person at GFAC – he also hasn’t been born yet. Brooks is due at the end of September. Brooks’ mother, Lillian, and her husband, Ian, attended the event, along with their daughter Cami and the grandparents. It was the entire family’s first time at GFAC! 

When Lillian was 10 weeks pregnant, she learned that Brooks had Down syndrome. Through GiGi’s, Lillian and Ian found community. After learning of the diagnosis, Lillian and Ian, along with their daughter Camille, visited the National/Hoffman Estates Playhouse. 

While Ian shared that at times they’re scared of the unknown, the families at GiGi’s have helped put their minds at ease by sharing their experiences, answering questions, and offering support. GFAC allowed them to connect with even more families and feel all the love and compassion that resides at GiGi’s. 

Baby Brooks and all future children like him are exactly why our GFAC events are so important. Not only does the money we raise from GFAC allow us to build more FREE programming, but the events allow us to facilitate understanding. By having individuals with Down syndrome lock arms with various members of the community, we’re fostering a more inclusive and accepting community.  

To date, our GFAC events for 2024 have been a resounding success. Our National/Hoffman Estates Playhouse raised over $136,000! But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. With over 39 GFAC events happening all over the country since March, we’ve raised over $2.2 million! 

It’s an incredible feat, but the biggest success to come out of all our GFAC events are families like Lillian and Ian, who find comfort and excitement in our ever-growing community. 

Though upon Baby Brooks’s arrival, he’ll work to achieve all the important milestones, like crawling and walking, there will come a day when he will run in the Kids Dash, and the GiGi’s community will be alongside him, cheering him on and helping him sprint toward the finish line. 

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