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GiGi’s Playhouse nears grand opening

Local News

Supporters of GiGi’s Playhouse of Rochester will gather for a Casino Royale fundraiser Saturday, March 18 in advance of its anticipated grand opening in April.

GiGi’s Playhouse of Rochester President Jennifer Bustamonte and Board Member Chris Tumminelli discussed the upcoming fundraiser and grand opening Wednesday on News 8 at Noon.

“GiGi’s Playhouse is a national Down Syndrome Achievement Center, and we’ve been working since October of 2015 to open our doors,” said Bustamonte.  “Finally we’re getting our painting done, and construction is just about finished. Yeah, April 30 is when we are looking to open our doors.”

She explained what makes GiGi’s Playhouse a special place for those with Down syndrome and their families.  “For us, support and guidance is huge,” Bustamonte said. “As the mother of a son with Down Syndrome who is five years old, it hasn’t been an easy ride. But, with the support of our local community, all of the friends that I have met that also have individuals, children with Down syndrome such as Chris, it’s made it a lot easier on us. And to have a facility that can offer free programming, and just a place for everybody to get together, it will be a big hit for our community.”

Tumminelli spoke to the need for a GiGi’s Playhouse in Rochester.  “I would say that the need is great,” he said. “There is always something that children with Down syndrome need in the community. One thing I have to say, Rochester is a wonderful place for services for anybody with an IDD or disability, a great place, but there’s always a need for more, and what GiGi’s will do is to help supplement that and bring more to what we feel our children need in the community. With 31 playhouses open in the country, I think number 32, we are going to be number 32, it won’t end there. GiGi’s is a phenomenon that is spreading the nation. It’s a need, and something I think every community in America will eventually have in one of their cities.”

The Casino Royale fundraiser will take place at the Harro East Ballroom in Rochester. “This is a great event,” said Tumminelli. “So we’ve been wanting to do a Casino Royale for quite a while.  The event be will not only a casino where you’ll be able to come and get some fake money and gamble and have a great time, we also have a lot of great food, we’re going to have some great speakers there, some self-advocates speaking and just a really fun time with an open bar.  You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck when you buy your ticket.  Sponsors, people that sponsor the event will also get a lot of bang for their buck, and the best part about it, it’s going to have GiGi’s, right?  GiGi’s really is a volunteer based organization, and we really look for funding from people in the community and resources out there, so anybody who comes to the event is really going to help us build this Playhouse and get it done and keep it sustained.”

For more information about GiGi’s Playhouse of Rochester and the Casino Royale fundraiser, click here.


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