GiGi's Playhouse seeks new beginning

GiGi's Playhouse offers people with down syndrome opportunities to grow. (Photo: Steffi Lee, CBS2/FOX28)

A local resource helping people with down syndrome needs help of its own.

GiGi's Playhouse in Cedar Rapids has a goal of raising $25,000 in two months so people like Ron Hunt can continue growing.

"He's like a two-year-old learning something new," Hunt's mom, Shirley Harris, said. "He learns something new everyday."

His new skill is finally reading at the second grade level.

"But he's 40," Harris said. "So I have to let him have his independence too."

GiGi's Playhouse is where he and his friends get their independence.

"When he was born, they told me he would never do anything," Harris said.

But inside GiGi's Playhouse, Hunt can practice the alphabet and other literacy activities.

"We don't ever want that to be taken away from them," Nancy Gianni, founder of GiGi's Playhouse, said.

While the books, games and music resources come at no cost to others, it costs the all-volunteer and donation based program a lot.

"They need to raise their funds to continue programming and to keep their doors open," Gianni said. "The utilities need to be paid. All of our programs are free to our families, but they cost us."

Because of this, over the next two months, GiGi's Playhouse is rallying for a fresh start and raising money to keep resources in the community. On Tuesday night, they held a meeting to explain the importance of keeping their doors open.

Gianni is optimistic. So are parents like Harris. That's because they know this is an A+ experience for the families battling disabilities.

"It's opportunity," Harris said. "GiGi's is a huge core."

People who are interested in donating can find more information on their website.

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