GiGi’s Black Tie Gala raises $100K for Long Island Down syndrome center


People from across the island headed to Bay Shore on Saturday, March 19, for a sold-out affair that raised $100,000 for GiGi’s Playhouse in Patchogue.

This was billed as the first annual gala for the GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Center that opened at 100 Austin Street, just south of Sunrise Highway, in March of 2021.

The Long Island center provides an array of free programs for people with Down syndrome, and their families.

“We could not be more thrilled with all of the support we received from the Long Island communities,” said corporate sponsor and GiGi’s Long Island board member Mike Cirigliano.

“It was truly a magical night,” he said.

When the doors opened last year at the Patchogue center, it became a first for Long Island. The closest other center is in NYC and there are almost 60 across the U.S., and one coming soon to Mexico.

The March 19 gala was held at Southward Ho Country Club in West Bay Shore.

The founder of GiGi’s Playhouses, Nancy Gianni, and her daughter GiGi, the organization’s namesake, were also in attendance. GiGi just graduated from high school last year, she said, and is now the Chief Inspiration Officer for the organization.

“I love opening new locations with my mom. I love her,” she told the 200 people in attendance. “I love meeting the new parents and holding babies … Most importantly, I try to show the world that me and my friends can do anything. I’m living my best life, thanks to people like you.”

GiGi and her mom, Nancy Gianni.
GiGi and her mom, Nancy Gianni.

Cirigliano, also the owner of the Cirigliano Insurance Agency, said it took about 10 weeks to put the night together.

“As much as we know how important our free programs are to the Long Island communities, we are still blown away by the generosity from local businesses and individual donors,” he said. “Without them, we would not be able to provide free, life-changing therapeutic, educational, career training and fun programs.”

The 2nd Annual Black Tie Gala is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, March 18.

Scroll down for photos from Benny Migliorino of Benny Migs Photo.