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GiGi's Playhouse to host fashion show fundraiser

CRYSTAL LAKE – Personalities will be just as much on display as the clothes during GiGi's Playhouse Be-YOU-tiful Spring Fashion Show in Crystal Lake.

The achievement center for individuals with Down syndrome will host the fashion show from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 5 at the Lakeside Legacy Dole Mansion, 401 Country Club Rd. in Crystal Lake. The event will feature 20 members of GiGi's Playhouse modeling personally selected outfits that represent their personalities. The event also includes a cocktail party, silent auction, raffles and a short video showcasing the nonprofit's work.

Chris Newlon, a volunteer with the organization, said the spring fashion show is one of the biggest fundraisers for the group, which operates solely on donations and private support. There is no federal funding and all programs are free of charge.

"We're hoping to raise between $20,000 and $25,000," Newlon said. "These events are our main source of funding."

GiGi's Playhouse has grown from a single location in Hoffman Estates to an international organization with 17 locations. The location in McHenry now has about 125 children and adults with Down syndrome registered for programs and more than 100 unpaid volunteers to help.

As the McHenry location enters its sixth year, Newlon said community support continues to grow because of the results people see. Newlon's daughter started at the organization when she was 5 and has become an efficient reader within five years and is about to start a math program.

"It's not that kids with Down syndrome could not learn, but our teaching methods were wrong," Newlon said of the advancements groups such as GiGi's Playhouse have made. "It's very different from the way it used to be viewed."

Newlon said there was still time for businesses to donate items for auctions and raffles and for residents to get tickets to the event. Anyone interested in attending can get more information at or by calling 815-385-7529.

If you go

What: GiGi’s Playhouse Spring Fashion Show
When: 4 to 8 p.m. April 5
Where: Lakeside Legacy Dole Mansion. 401 Country Club Road in Crystal Lake
Why: To help support free services offered to people with Down syndrome.
Info: To register or donate items or money to the event, visit or call 815-385-7529.

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