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Our Team

Erica Erdman

Erica lives in Merrill, Wisconsin with her longtime boyfriend Carl and son Braxton, who has Down syndrome. Erica has a bachelor's degree in Psychology with Human Services and a bachelor’s degree in Art with an emphasis in glass. Erica’s professional experience includes many years in various human service roles serving the developmentally disabled, mentally ill, and unemployed populations.  Erica has recently become a stay a home mother to more easily care for Braxton’s needs.
Erica brings her professional experience to GiGi’s Playhouse Wausau because of her continued desire for Down syndrome services and support in North Central WI.  In particular, she is interested in the employment-based programming and connecting the Down syndrome community to supportive local businesses.

Erica cherishes her time with Braxton and tries to make his learning and playtime as creative as possible.  Erica spends her free time making Down syndrome arts and crafts, costumes and various projects and looks forward to bringing her creativity to GiGi’s Playhouse Wausau.

Kris Schirmacher

Kris recently relocated with her family back to the Wausau area after many years in the Madison, WI area.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree from UW-Whitewater and has over 20 years of experience focused in IT and project management across health care, utilities and insurance.

While in the Madison area, Kris worked with several non-profit groups and was active in their fundraising efforts.  In her spare time she enjoys home renovation projects, stock market investing and baking.

Kris and her husband Dale have three children – Brandon, Emily and Irie and one grand-daughter, Lilly.   The whole family is excited for what GiGi’s Playhouse will bring to the Central Wisconsin area.

Karen Apfelbeck

Karen was born and raised in Central Wisconsin.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Upper Iowa University.  She has a spent the majority of her career in the banking industry - specializing in operations, accounting, compliance, and fraud prevention.

In her spare time, Karen enjoys spending time with family.  Karen is excited to be a part in bringing GiGi's Playhouse to Wausau, because it fills a need for the community, not only in central Wisconsin, but for our families in more rural areas like the Northwoods and U.P.

Michelle Wanta

Michelle lives in Tomahawk with her husband Rich and five children – son Aidan and daughters Gabby, Paige, Faith, and Morgan, who has Down syndrome.  They all love to travel and spend time outdoors – kayaking, fishing, camping, playing soccer, football, and basketball.  In her spare time she loves cooking, baking, reading, and serving others.

Michelle has Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. For the past 16 years, she has worked at Harley-Davidson in various roles, currently as a Supply Chain Operations Manager.  She has served the last 7 years as a Sunday School teacher for various ages.  In addition, she has participated in and facilitated many community service projects at church and work.

She is excited to be a part of GiGi’s Playhouse and looks forward to what GiGi’s Playhouse has to offer for Morgan and all the other families in the area.

Rebecca Bearjar

Having grown-up in Wausau, Rebecca studied in St. Petersburg, Russia and Portland, Oregon before settling in Madison, Wisconsin where she worked in web development and email marketing. She returned to the Wausau area in 2010 to join her family business. As manager of a community-based independent retail store, Rebecca is an active member of Wausau River District. In her spare time, Rebecca enjoys hiking, biking, reading and knitting.

Rebecca and her husband, Niles, are the proud parents of Katelyn (3-years-old) and Nathan (9-months-old). Following a traumatic birth, Nathan was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 during his stay in the NICU. Rebecca is grateful for the support and friendship provided by other local parents of children with Down syndrome and she looks forward to giving back to the community as a member of GiGi’s Playhouse in Wausau.

Cory Durbin

Cory is an Early Childhood Special Education teacher with the Wausau School District where she has been employed since 2016.  Prior to this, she was a service coordinator with the North Central Health Care Birth-to-Three program for 11 years.  She was also previously a camp counselor for 4 summers at Elk’s Camp Grassick in Dawson, ND working with children and adults with special needs.  Throughout these experiences, her knowledge and passion for working with individuals with special needs, Down syndrome in particular, has grown.

She received her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Minnesota State University, Mankato; and a master’s degree in early childhood special education from Minnesota State University, Moorhead

Cory resides in Merrill, WI with her husband, John, and 3 children: Gabriel-13, Caroline-10, and Sylvia-7.  As a family they enjoy camping, spending time with extended family, enjoying nature, taking family vacations, having movie and game nights, and are actively involvement in Boy Scouts.

Anna Borchardt

Anna is from Stevens Point Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point with a major in Philosophy.  She currently works at Sentry lnsurance in Stevens Point.

Even though Anna works full time she finds plenty of time to spend with her family. She has been with her fiancé for 10 years and they have 2 wonderful children together.  Emma is 5 and has Down syndrome. Emma recently started kindergarten, fully included, and seems to love it. Her brother Roman, age 3, really misses her during the day. They have grown extra close when they are together.

Emma's smile can brighten the darkest room. She has taught her family a lot so far and they are certain she'll keep teaching them more. Her love needs to be shared and spread as far as we can spread it!!  She needs a voice! Gigi's Playhouse is a wonderful opportunity for her and others to have that voice and spread the unconditional love that so many of us need in our lives! Anna cannot wait to be a part of Gigi's and make this possible.