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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Mario Lopez And Other Stars Will Shine For Individuals With Down Syndrome At Gigi’s Playhouse 2017 “i have a voice” Chicagoland Gala

Press Release – HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILLGiGi’s Playhouse Inc. is thrilled to announce that Mario Lopez, Emmy-winning host of hit entertainment show “Extra,” will be the celebrity Guest of Honor at its 2017 “i have a voice” Chicagoland Gala on Saturday, March 11, at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. Other famous faces on the guest list include CBS 2 Chicago anchor Rob Johnson, who returns as guest emcee, and 12 retired NFL players, including Wendell Davis, Bruce Herron and Jim Morrissey of the Chicago Bears. The evening also features Chicagoland’s ultimate party band 7th heaven, making its long-awaited return to the GiGi’s annual gala.

GiGi’s Playhouse is the only international network of free-standing Down Syndrome Achievement Centers. With more than 30 locations around the country and in Mexico, GiGi’s Playhouse delivers FREE educational and therapeutic programs to children and adults to maximize achievement and acceptance. In 2013, GiGi Gianni of South Barrington, namesake and inspiration for the organization, met Mario Lopez on the “Extra” set in Los Angeles, while shooting a public service announcement. GiGi and Mario will reunite at the 2017 gala to share their voices and dance moves in support of heroic children and adults with Down syndrome.

“The GiGi’s Gala is an awesome mix of elegance, inspiration, motivation and fun,” says Nancy Gianni, GiGi’s Playhouse founder and president. “We like to say it’s a black-tie event with a rockin’ edge. There will be VIP meet-and-greets, a dance performance by the Shining Stars and a dance floor that doesn’t quit!”

The “i have a voice” Gala will begin at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception. In addition to lively and rockin’ entertainment, the evening will feature raffles and amazing auctions – including a VIP suite for U2 at Soldier Field with 20 friends, VIP seating for Ariana Grande’s Chicago performance, Bruno Mars tickets, Lady GaGa tickets, VIP Blackhawks suites, sports packages, international luxury trips and more.

Limited VIP tickets are available for the exclusive pre-event cocktail reception and meet-and-greet with Mario Lopez and the 12 retired NFL players. Ticket quantities for this VIP opportunity are extremely limited. Regular tickets for the “i have a voice” Gala also are available now for $225 per person or $2,000 for a table. For tickets and information, go to or call 847.885.7529. Supporters are encouraged to buy their tickets now, to ensure they’ll have an opportunity to join GiGi, Mario Lopez, Rob Johnson and the NFL players on the dance floor.

GiGi’s Playhouse is a 501c3 nonprofit organization funded solely by the generosity of individual and corporate donors. Funds raised from the 2017 gala will enrich children and adults with Down syndrome through vital programs such as one-on-one literacy and math tutoring, speech therapy, fitness classes, career training and more. GiGi’s Playhouse advances its vision for global acceptance through the Generation G campaign: Be Accepting. Be Generous. Be Kind.

More about GiGi’s Playhouse

Founded in 2003, GiGi’s Playhouse is the only international network of Down syndrome achievement centers, changing lives through free programs for individuals of all ages. The organization makes a lifetime commitment to support and empower families from diagnosis to adulthood, and also works to promote acceptance for all through the #GenerationG campaign. The goal is to have a GiGi’s Playhouse in every state by 2021, targeting the underserved population of more than 450,000 Americans living with Down syndrome. National recognition for GiGi’s Playhouse is growing, with founder Nancy Gianni being named a 2016 CNN Hero. For more information about how you can help, visit

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