GiGi's Playhouse virtual walk 'Step to Accept' happening Saturday
GiGi's Playhouse is an achievement center for people with down syndrome that offers resources such as tutoring, dance classes and interactive large group activities.
For the first time GiGi's is holding a virtual national run, walk or ride 5K called 'Step to Accept' on Saturday, June 6. The goal is to get 50 million steps from participants across the country.
COVID-19 forced GiGi's to move their resources online. Families, like the Purnell's, are adjusting well to the change, but are nervous for what the future holds for their son, Thomas, who has down syndrome.
"Any help we can get from others or any suggestions helps. That's one thing too with GiGi's is we can probably pass on what works for us, may help somebody else, may not help another family but then they might have something that will help somebody else," Sherri Purnell said.
The money raised from the walk will go back to these online resources and work to reopen facilities across the country when it is safe.
"Without the support of our communities we can't continue offering these programs. We are so lucky to have this beautiful space. To be able to keep this space going is so important because eventually we'll be opening back up. We'll figure out what that looks like going forward in this new world we're in but without the funding from the community that can't happen," Kelly Antonson, Site Manager and Step to Accept Champion, said.
Registration for 'Step to Accept' is $21 for adults and $10 for children or any donation amount is appreciated. The event will start with a Facebook live at 11 a.m. CST.
The Purnell's hopes the walk raises awareness for Down syndrome and promotes people to accept everyone as they are.
"I think it also gives people with Down syndrome the opportunity to feel comfortable in their community. They don't have to feel restricted but instead they're enabled by having that acceptance," Tom Purnell said.
Organizers agree, "I hope people feel proud that they're participating and publicly stating that I accept you for who you are, I accept that the Down syndrome community is important in my community and I accept that the playhouse is here to provide such an amazing service and I want to be a part of contributing to that," Antonson said.