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WKBW 7 News Buffalo

Searching for purpose leads Carolina Matovac to her second home

By Dom Tibbetts,


For as long as she could remember, Carolina Matovac strived to find purpose in her life.

"I was thinking what purpose can I have in Buffalo. And I realized that I loved to help people," Carolina told 7 News. "And I wanted to help people because I have that opportunity."

More specifically, Carolina wanted to help children, which led her to GiGi's Playhouse. A Down Syndrome achievement center in Buffalo. And from the moment she stepped foot into the playroom, it was love at first sight.

“I think many people who don't know about the people here I think just expect to feel sorry for them. And you have nothing to feel sorry about. Because they are the happiest, most loving kids ever," she said.

Born and raised in Sweden, Carolina recognizes this incredible lens of which her friends see the world we live in. And there's not a day you won't see a smile on her face inside the walls of GiGi's.

"One thing I’ll teach my future kids is to always be positive. I love the environment here because everything is possible and everyone is positive. Nothing is impossible here. These kids, to be honest, never give up," she said. "They runaround, they fall and they get back up and keep doing it. Even if a lot of people would watch them and think this is not possible. I promise you it is."

Each and every day Carolina surrounds herself with this endless supply of love, she learns something new about herself. And one particular story stands out above the rest.

"So when I first got here it was around Christmas and Santa was visiting. This one boy sat in Santa's lap. And he said all I want for Christmas is to be grateful. And when I heard that, I was like that was a really nice thing, I’ve never heard a kid only want to be grateful for Christmas. And then I had to talk to him. I said that was so beautiful. Is there anything else you want for Christmas? Do you have a favorite toy? And he said oh no I forgot to tell Santa one thing. So he ran back to Santa and said all I want for Christmas is to be grateful. And for my family to be happy and healthy," she said.

To the outside world, Carolina Matovac is the girlfriend of Buffalo Sabres star defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. But inside the walls of GiGi's, she's a light. Illuminating the hearts of everyone she comes across. As so many of the smiling faces you'll see, do to her.

"You know I’m always going to be Rasmus's girlfriend. And I love to be his girlfriend. But I also want to be my own person. And do my own thing. So I love that I’m able to do something that I care about and love. And knowing it's for me and by me with no one else involved."

GiGi's Playhouse has become a second home to so many in the Buffalo community, Carolina included. This is her space to share countless smiles, laughs and stories with friends she'll now have for a lifetime.

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