Teen making anthem debut to show what people with Down syndrome can do

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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — After moving her mom to serve kids with Down syndrome and their families, 16-year-old Gigi Gianni is preparing to inspire crowds at Wrigley Field Tuesday.

Her mom, Nancy Gianni, founded Gigi’s Playhouse after Gigi was born with Down syndrome. The organization now has over 40 locations around the country, where over 30,000 people of all ages get access to therapeutic, educational and career training programs.

After inspiring her mom to make a difference, Gigi is stepping up to the microphone this week to sing the national anthem at Wrigley Field, in part to show what people with Down syndrome are capable of.

"This voice came out of nowhere and she just belted it out," Nancy Gianni said. "She knows she out there singing … to make a difference."

Nancy Gianni says Gigi also hopes the experience and exposure at Wrigley Field will bring awareness to Down syndrome.

"She just wants to prove to everyone what people with [Down syndrome] can do," Gianni said. "To finally, I guess get the respect that she deserves, and the platform that she deserves."

Gigi and Nancy Gianni share an office, wrote a book together and travel to all the Gigi's Playhouse locations to make sure they're helping those who need it.

At those locations there are fitness rooms where kids take and teach classes, tutoring where kids learn how to be independent,  and cafés like Hugs and Mugs, where they can learn life skills like working behind a counter and taking orders.

As she prepares to make her singing debut, the girl known by one name is clearly making her mark already.

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