Lakewood Women’s Club Hosts Second Annual Women Honoring Women
Nancy Gianni, Chief Belief Officer at GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers, was the keynote speaker Thursday, May 10 at this year’s Women Honoring Women, Lakewood Women’s Club 2nd annual spring fundraiser hosted at Georgetown Vosh.
“One hundred thirty of the most distinguished women in Lakewood attended our event,” said Jessica Sloan, president, Lakewood Women’s Club. “The crowd is testament to the inspiration Nancy bestows onto our community.”
When Nancy, a mother of four from South Barrington, Illinois, gave birth to her fourth child in 2002, GiGi was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Nancy could have been stifled by fear, but instead, GiGi’s birth sparked a remarkable journey of miracles, hope, and unconditional love that is now helping hundreds of thousands of people every day.
“What began as a mom’s simple vision to change the perception of people with Down syndrome has evolved into a global movement and acceptance for all,” said Nancy Gianni.
There are currently 36 GiGi’s Playhouse locations across the U.S. and Mexico, and demand to open 200 more worldwide. GiGi’s Playhouse is the ONLY international network of Down Syndrome Achievement Centers created to provide FREE life-changing therapeutic and educational programs to help hundreds of thousands of people of all ages every day.
The Women Honoring Women ceremony recognized three outstanding women from the Lakewood community. Emerging Leader and Distinguished Leader awards, as well as a college scholarship, were to be presented to three Lakewood women who demonstrated a variety of accomplishments and contributions to our community.
State Representative Nickie J. Antonio presented the awards for the ceremony. Sixteen nominees were recognized in the two award categories for their outstanding achievements.
“We were here tonight to inspire the next generation of women in Lakewood,” said Antonio. “These three remarkable women exemplified each and every woman in that room.”
The Emerging Leader was awarded to Joannah Lynch, a Family Nurse Practictitioner who works with low-income and refugee families in Cleveland’s near west side. She recognized a problem in her community, like the high need for diapers, and decided to launch the CLE Diaper Drive which raised more than 80,000 diapers for local charities. It is Joannah’s commitment to helping her neighbors that drives her to improve her community.
The Distinguished Leader award was presented to Vickie Smigelski. Vickie has over 30 years of civic engagement experience in Lakewood which ranges from active involvement with the Lakewood Congregational Church and their ministries to volunteering for the Lakewood Chamber of Commence, Lakewood Alive, and GiGi’s Playhouse – to name a few.
A College Scholarship was awarded to Aya Al-laham, an outstanding senior at Lakewood High School.
The award winners were chosen from a number of nominations submitted by the community prior to the event. The selection committee was comprised of the community leaders, current president, past presidents, and members of the Lakewood Women’s Club.
The donations from the event will support the 2018 scholarship winner and GiGi’s Playhouse.
“Nancy was that butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon,” said Torey Worron, event co-chair. “Her calling in life was to change the perception of Down syndrome, and she did it!”
Lakewood Women’s Club
Founded in 1962, The Lakewood Women’s Club, formerly known as the Junior Women’s Club of Lakewood, is a nonprofit organization made up of emerging women leaders - from all ages and backgrounds - dedicated to building a healthier community through philanthropy and volunteerism. Our members promote grant-making, forge leadership skills, build camaraderie, and master having fun. For more information, please visit http://www.lakewoodwomensclub.com/.
GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers
GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center’s mission is to change the way the world views Down syndrome through national campaigns, educational programs, and by empowering individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community. We offer free therapeutic and educational programming to individuals with Down syndrome and their families.
Kristy Feyedelem, Social Media Publicity & Public Relations Chair for The Lakewood Women's Club & their Spring event, Women Honoring Women.
Owner and Photographer at SunnyDay Photography. Mom to Abby (12) and Lyla (6) at Menlo Park Academy.