Founding Member, Kristi Ross
Mom to Grace, age 8
When we first found out Grace had DS, 4 weeks before she was born, I immediately started looking into resources and was trying to get my hands on anything that would help soften the blow of this diagnosis, since everything we received from doctors is ALL negative… all the things your kid won’t do, all the health problems they are predisposed to, etc. That’s when I stumbled on GiGi’s Playhouse and was so encouraged and inspired by their mission and vision, until I quickly realized that the closest one to us was over 10 hours away. I SO badly wanted to bring GiGi’s to Sugar Land, but Grace was born, and we would spend the next 15 months just trying to keep her alive as she battled through 5 open heart surgeries (and a 6th one when she was 5 years old) and a whole host of other complications. Our focus had to shift from helping Grace to be the most successful kiddo with DS to being laser focused on the present because this little girl that waltzed into our life changed everything for our family (in the best way) and we were desperate to keep her and her very broken heart alive. We traveled to Boston for 4 of her surgeries and spent countless hours, days, months separated as a family as we sought the best care for our Gracie girl.
When Grace was about a year old, a friend asked if I would talk to a friend of hers that just had a baby with DS (which is one of my very favorite things to do). I met Ammie Blahuta when Sadie was just a week old and I knew immediately that she was my people. While she had only had days to digest the DS diagnosis, she and her mom had already discovered GiGi’s and were determined to bring one to Sugar Land. I breathed a sigh of relief because Grace was currently in the hospital and I was exhausted, but I knew right away that these two amazing ladies were on a mission and wouldn’t rest until that mission was complete. I told Ammie I was all in and I would pour as much of myself into the efforts as I possibly could. It wasn’t long before we had a start-up committee assembled. I’ve had the pleasure of being a founding member and then a board member for the past 5 years. I don’t know that there is a mission I’ve enjoyed more than the opportunity to come along side families who recently received a diagnosis of DS and help them to see that while they currently felt like they have been sucker punched and their future was bleak, the truth is that we are the lucky (blessed) ones. Their lives weren’t over, but in fact it was just beginning because the perspective and joy that comes with having a kiddo with DS is truly life changing (in the best way).
My favorite things about GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land are the big dreams they have for these kids and adults, they set the bar high and are so purposeful in helping each individual excel to the fullest potential God created them for. It’s an instant family, a place where we can learn from one another, share in the hard days and rejoice in the great ones together. One of the most amazing things about GiGi’s is that every single resource is free! When you feel like you are hemorrhaging money with medical bills, therapy bills, etc and you learn there is a place that wants to pour into every aspect of your kid’s life (academically, socially, and everything in between) without ever asking for a dime, it is a blessing that is impossible to articulate.
We’ve come SO far in just 5 years and I couldn’t be prouder to serve alongside so many amazing board members, staff, volunteers, and families at GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land. While my board term ended in December 2020, my love and commitment for GiGi’s is unwavering and we will still be a part of the GiGi’s family, just in a different capacity. Grace Ross and the rest of our family are better people and have richer lives because of GiGi’s Playhouse. We will always be part of GenerationG, and we can’t wait to see what else God has in store for GiGi’s Playhouse Sugar Land.