Ron and Jenni Koch
Our “GiGi’s Journey,” began shortly after our third child, Kohen was born with Down syndrome in 2006. We did not find out he had Down syndrome until after he was born. After spending the next 10 days in the NICU with our new little man, we were dismissed with very little information about Down syndrome and a sheet with information about contacting the Northwest AEA.
When Kohen was about a month old, we went to our first support group meeting at the AEA. It was at these meetings, where we would eventually discuss the idea of a place known as GiGi’s Playhouse. When Kohen was a year old, we decided to take a road trip to Hoffman Estates, IL to see what GiGi’s was all about. We were welcomed warmly into a colorful, inviting setting with kids everywhere having fun! We met many families and even one with a newborn with Down syndrome. We knew immediately we needed a place like this in Sioux City.
We began the process of networking with parents and putting together a Board of Directors, writing grants and securing a place to call home for GiGi’s Playhouse-Sioux City! We officially opened GiGi’s Playhouse –Sioux City, in March 2009, becoming the 5th playhouse and the 1st outside of Illinois.
Over the past 10 years, GiGi’s Playhouse – Sioux City has changed and evolved and has welcomed so many new families!
Kohen is now 12 ½ years old. He is a 6th grader and loves being involved in so much! He plays baseball, goes bowling, and loves to sing in the school choir. He loves to tell stories and laugh with those around him. He loves to hang out with his brother Kaeden and sister, Karissa. Kohen has been such a blessing to our family. We feel so blessed that we had a wonderful group of people in the right place at the right time to help make GiGi’s Playhouse in Sioux City a reality 10 years ago!