Hoffman Estates teen with Down syndrome sings national anthem at Wrigley Field

CHICAGO (WLS) -- GiGi Gianni has been practicing the national anthem for years, all for this night.

She sang it in front of a packed crowd at Wrigley Field, and hundreds of thousands more watching on television. And she nailed it.

The lifelong Cubs fan fulfilled a dream not only for herself, but for most everyone connected to Down syndrome.

"She's really representing our community, showing against all odds you can do whatever you want to," said Nancy Gianni, mother.

GiGi is the inspiration for GiGi's Playhouse, which her mother started after she was born to help those with Down syndrome develop more ability, independence and self-confidence - all things GiGi demonstrated before singing.

She was a star Tuesday night, and everyone wanted their picture taken with her. She brought a crowd of supporters as well, including Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, who invited her to sing and has long supported Gigi's Playhouse.

"It's been a phenomenon. She has brought joy and happiness, and to have GiGi singing here tonight is really special," Ricketts said.

Her mother said she was practicing articulating the words to the anthem late into Monday night, and all the hard work paid off.

Originally founded in Hoffman Estates, GiGi's Playhouse now has 46 locations throughout the United States and Mexico. It offers programs for individuals with Down syndrome of all ages, their families and the community, and all programs are free to families. For more information about GiGi's Playhouse, visit gigisplayhouse.org.
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