Join us for the 2023 Feeling Lucky Gala!

Another year has come and gone and we’re getting ready to celebrate our Playhouse turning 12 years old on October 1st. We feel lucky to be part of the fantastic and generous Quad CIties community but even more lucky to be part of the lives of individuals who happen to have a diagnosis of Down syndrome. We encourage everyone to meet and get to know the people who benefit from the programs here at GiGi’s. We promise you will feel lucky too! An opportunity to do that is coming soon.

You’re invited to attend our annual fundraising gala on Saturday, October 28th where you will meet some of our teen and adult friends. You’ll see them in their element as dancers, greeters, singers, and speakers. We will celebrate with them, support the programs GiGi’s offers, and also have a special guest speaker with us. New York Times best-selling author Heather Avis will share with us how she is one of The Lucky Few who has the opportunity to love individuals with Down syndrome and why our world needs to be more inclusive and welcoming. This aligns perfectly with the GIGI’s mission of changing the way the world views Down syndrome.

Speaker – Heather Avis

Heather is the founder of The Lucky Few, a podcaster, and a Down syndrome advocate, working to create a more inclusive world where everyone belongs. For more than a decade, she has led this effort by shouting worth, shifting the narratives, and reimagining what it looks like when we embrace our differences.

The Lucky Few is an invitation to build a kinder, more inclusive world. We accomplish this through a combination of advocacy and activism, narrative-shifting, and storytelling. The Lucky Few believes in inspiring and challenging our audiences, calling them to listen, read, share, contribute, and support as we work to create a world where differences are embraced and everyone belongs.

You can read more about Heather and The Lucky Few here

We are offering 2 opportunities to meet Heather while she is here!

The VIP Meet & Greet before the gala is full of exciting items valued at over $100 (a copy of The Lucky Few book for Heather to sign, gifts from GiGI’s participants, beverage tickets, and more!) PLUS a chance to win a special VIP prize that will include $100 gift card, 2024 gala tickets, Lucky Few merchandise, etc.

VIP Meet & Greet – Saturday, October 28th at 5 pm. Reserve your spot here. Sign up by October 10th for an opportunity to win a $100 gift card from Rhythm City. You could use it to stay at the hotel the night of the gala!

The alternate chance is the Friday prior to the gala during teen and adult programs at the local bowling alley.

Meet & Greet Open House – Friday, October 27th from 6-8 pm. Register here. Donation suggested (monetary or in-kind wish list item).

Space is limited and registration is required. These opportunities are not included in the gala ticket purchase.

The gala is sure to be a fun and inspirational time not only with Heather but all the other people in attendance and the activities that are being planned. The following people and businesses will be a big part of the night too!

Emcee – Andrew Stutzke

Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke, a Quad Cities native from Sterling, Illinois, is intimately acquainted with the Midwest’s ever-changing weather patterns. Growing up, he developed a fascination for weather, particularly thunderstorms, at a young age. This passion led him to pursue a degree in Meteorology from Northern Illinois University after completing his Associate of Science at Sauk Valley Community College.

Andrew’s meteorological journey included an internship at WHBF-TV, spending two years as a Weekend Meteorologist at WIFR-TV in Rockford, Illinois, and eventually brought him “home” to WQAD in 2018. He earned recognition as a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist from the American Meteorological Society in 2021. Beyond forecasting, Andrew is a certified drone pilot who loves exploring the Quad Cities area from above. In his leisure, he enjoys listening to Alternative Rock and Indie music, hiking with his Golden Retriever, Cooper, and spending quality time with loved ones.

In addition to having Andrew as the emcee WQAD has partnered with us this year as the media sponsor. You will see ads on TV, social media, and their website too.

Auctioneer – Jon Bloomberg with Bloomberg Auctions

Jon and his crew are back again this year to facilitate the live auction portion of this event. They are always entertaining! They are also very generous as they donate their time and talents to the evening. Come ready to bid on some amazing auction items including tickets to Disneyland! The auction is a huge part of our fundraising efforts. You do need to be present for the live auction but you can bid from anywhere during the online silent auction. We’ll share the link to that auction lineup in mid-October.

We’re currently accepting auction items. Let us know what you’d like to donate by completing the form found here.

Twisted Mics

Twisted Mics is back for the 3rd time as the DJ for the night. Send us your requests now and we will work on building the dance playlist for the evening. They donate the majority of their time and talents for the evening. You can thank them by hitting the dance floor! 🎵

GiGi’s Dancers & Entertainment

Our dancers are hard at work learning their routines for the night. They LOVE sharing their talents with us. Their performances will leave you smiling from ear to ear. Many thanks to the dance leaders Maddie & Wes for volunteering their time over 6 weeks to work with these groups. Many thanks to Arthur Murray Dance Center for allowing us to use their space for the dance programs.

Kate Holsen will also be on stage again this year to share her beautiful voice and talent with us.

Infinity Photography & TSS Photography

📷 Nicole with Infinity Photography is also back this year. She wasn’t able to be there last year so we are excited to have her back. We will also have someone from TSS Photography taking pictures that will be immediately sent to your phones. This was hit at the GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge – Superhero Run/Walk this summer!


This event is made possible thanks to many generous sponsors!

Platinum Sponsor

The top sponsors are SSAB, RDA (Regional Development Authority, and United Healthcare.

To see a list of sponsors click here.

Thank you to all the sponsors for believing in the GiGI’s mission and supporting this event.

Rhythm City Casino

We can’t thank Rhythm City Casino enough for their partnership to make this event possible. Many of the items you will see at the event are being loaned to us at no cost as in-kind donations. The staff are great to work with and we know you’ll enjoy the atmosphere. PLUS there are discounted rooms for the night.

Visit the FAQ page to learn more about reserving your room.

Register or Donate Here

Click on the banner or visit this link.


This event is not possible without volunteers. Many volunteers are needed leading up to the event and the night of too. Visit the link here to learn more about volunteering for this crucial fundraising event. The gala is our biggest fundraiser of the year and we need your help!

There is also a volunteer committee that helps plan the event and we appreciate their time and dedication.

Gala Planning Committee

Hilary Oliver

Chad & Susanna Johnson

Meribeth Johnson

Carissa Hassebrock

Tim Gulbranson

Pam Lynch, Site Director

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