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Sip and shimmy with Gigi’s Playhouse for Down syndrome

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 2, 2020

 Zac Caza, of Beverly Hills, celebrates World Down Syndrome Day with Gigi’s Playhouse Detroit in 2018.

Zac Caza, of Beverly Hills, celebrates World Down Syndrome Day with Gigi’s Playhouse Detroit in 2018.

Photo provided by Ashley Caza

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BIRMINGHAM — Did you know that World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated each year on March 21?

The date certainly isn’t random. It was picked to signify the triplication of genetic material on the 21st chromosome, which causes Down syndrome.

And there’s no better way to observe the occasion than to have some fun and raise some awareness about Down syndrome with local partners and Gigi’s Playhouse Detroit, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit achievement and activity center founded in 2003 for individuals with Down syndrome.

The nonprofit has two local events happening that day: a fundraiser at the popular Griffin Claw Brewing Co. in Birmingham’s Rail District and an all-ages sock hop at Wylie E. Groves High School.

Griffin Claw will be open from noon to midnight March 21, and they’ve pledged to make a donation to Gigi’s Playhouse. The company’s CFO, Pat Craddock, is a friend of the organization. His son, Ian, has Down syndrome.

“Gigi’s Playhouse Detroit is incredibly excited to partner with Griffin Claw,” said Lisa Kocab, Gigi’s Playhouse Detroit board of directors chairwoman. “Griffin Claw has a direct connection to our Down syndrome community, and we love their commitment to the community in general.”

For those who prefer to celebrate with a boogie instead of a brew, Groves will host a 1950s-style dance 2-4 p.m. This will be the second all-ages community dance for Gigi’s Playhouse Detroit, according to Ashley Caza, one of the event’s organizers.

“This is open to anyone and everyone,” Caza said. “We have a great DJ lined up, DJ Tony Ancevski, and he’s local. We’ll have  Face Painting Robot, a balloon artist, snacks and a surprise giveaway.”

Guests can register online to attend the sock hop, either as an individual or as part of one of the fundraising teams. The winning team at the end of the event will win a photo shoot of their group with a professional photographer.

When all is said and done, all of the money collected from the day’s events will go to support the nonprofit’s free-of-charge programming for local residents with Down syndrome, and others who could benefit from the group’s activities, which range from early learning programs and social skills development to peer groups and exercise classes.

“The programs are designed for those with Down syndrome and their needs in mind, but we have all kinds of people coming,” Caza said. “(The fundraisers) will help us to just keep our doors open and service anyone who wants to be a part of it.”

Tickets for the sock hop cost $20 for adults and $10 for kids 17 and younger. For more information, including how to register for the sock hop, visit gigisplayhouse.org/detroit.

Wylie E. Groves High School is located at 20500 W. 13 Mile Road in Beverly Hills, and Griffin Claw Brewing Co. is located at 575 S. Eton St. in Birmingham.

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