Students Volunteer at GiGi's Playhouse Run

Students Volunteer at GiGi's Playhouse Run

It was by coincidence that the Oak Forest High School Key Club and Boys Basketball Team both ended up running into one another at the GiGi's Playhouse Tinley Park Donut Run on September 22. Soon, they would realize they were there volunteering for the same reason – in support of Oak Forest High School night-shift custodian, Mr. Matt Shute and his family.

The Shute family has been a part of Oak Forest High School basketball for more than a decade with Shute and his siblings graduating from Oak Forest High School and Mrs. Shute serving as the Booster Club President for eight years.

"Matt (Shute) has been a huge basketball supporter and a great fan for many years," says Oak Forest Boys Basketball Coach Matt Manzke. "The Shute family has done so much for our program, volunteering at the walk was just a small way to give back to them. Although the players do not know Mr. Shute personally, they are all aware of how much the Shute family has done for our program and they all know Matt is our biggest fan."

Students handed out medals, helped with registration, distributed water, and offered high-fives and words of encouragement to runners. Students of course were also there to cheer on Shute who they may not have known personally, but who they know has supported the school and has been a part of the "Bengal family" for many years.

"I thought this was a fantastic experience to help not only GiGi's Playhouse, but to support one of our former families that came through the school and now works at the school," says Key Club Sponsor Gary Andruch. "Running has always been a large part of my life and my family's life, so to also have my own family of five come and help out and see what the Oak Forest community is all about was a great experience for us. We will definitely be back next year to help."

GiGi's Playhouse, while located in Tinley Park, has been a resource to many Oak Forest High School and District 228 families offering non-fee programs that provide support to both children and adults diagnosed with Down Syndrome. This year, GiGi's Playhouse offered a "glazing a trail" 5K, a 1 mile "munchkin" walk, and a kids "donut dash." Gigi's Playhouse states on their website that all of the money raised will "help improve gross and fine motor skills, increase social skills, and build confidence for all of their participants from birth through adulthood."

GiGi's Playhouse raised $64,090 dollars this year through their race; $4,090 dollars more than their intended goal of $60,000.

"Anytime we can step up and help out in our community, it's great for our players," says Manzke. "We want to do more than just be successful on the court. In this case, it was the perfect chance to give back to an excellent organization as well as show how much we appreciate all that the Shute's have done to support our program."

 If you would like to learn more about GiGi's Playhouse or make a donation, please click here.

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