Noah-On-The-GO

Noah is ON-THE-GO now that he has his own adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller from Variety, and we love the update below that his mom sent me! We hope it makes you smile.

Noah’s mom, Breanne shared,

“My son Noah has received an adaptive bike and adaptive stroller through Variety! We got the bike for Noah, so he can get exercise and enjoy the outdoors (just like us).

Noah loves his bike, and each year as he gets stronger, he’s able to peddle better and better!

We have even had Noah in two local kids bike races! People love cheering on Noah at these events.

I love that he can join his peers in these exciting events, but I also love that people are getting exposed to children like Noah. I hear the kids ask their parents questions about Noah’s bike, and the other parents always say how cool his bike is!

We asked for an adaptive stroller for safety reasons because Noah (like many kids) is an eloper.

Even walking through a parking lot can be scary. Noah will just take off at a moment’s notice, and he doesn’t understand cars or strangers – but now, the stroller keeps him safe.

He is also starting to get to be too big to sit in the cart seats. So, this stroller helps me keep him close by when shopping, and still allows him to come with me as we enjoy that experience together.

I am very grateful that the Variety program offers these to our families, so we can continue to live out in the community as a whole family.”

Variety’s work is truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

P.S. ICYMI – Help to share and support Variety’s KOTG Mobility Campaign, a critical need to fund more adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers for kids, who deserve to be on-the-go.

Kids-On-The-Go

Dear Variety Friends,

I want to thank you for following along on this journey to help kids with disabilities live life to the fullest.

We currently have an urgent need for donations to fund adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers, and with hundreds of applications in process, there are a lot more kids that need this equipment.

That’s why we launched the Kids-On-The-Go Mobility Campaign.

Parents describe the equipment as, “life-changing” and having “an immediate impact”, so our need for help is critical because we don’t want these extraordinary kids to wait to receive this equipment due of funding.

Any donation to My Bike or My Stroller will have an immediate impact and open a whole new world of possibilities for a child’s life (and my sincerest thanks to those that have given a gift already).

A great testimony comes from 21-year old Emily (pictured below), who recently received her new adaptive bike from Variety, and she has high hopes for her new bike!

After seeing her new bike, Emily described what it meant to her,

“The bike will improve my mental health issues for sure because I used to be more of an outdoorsy person when I was a kid, but the older I got, I just kind of fell out of that interest and so maybe this can help me get back to where I used to be.”

I was speaking to Emily’s mom,  Anita, and she shared with me, “Emily is my youngest child, so I’m really excited about us riding bikes TOGETHER – just mother and daughter on the trail… riding bikes. I can’t wait!!”

Don’t miss the full interview with Emily and Anita thanks to 21-WFMJ TV: https://www.wfmj.com/story/44252237/nonprofit-gives-mercer-county-kids-with-disabilities-the-chance-to-ride-a-bike

YOU are our community, our family, our supporters, and our enthusiasts… and YOU truly make Variety’s life-changing work possible for the kids and their families.

Take good care,

Charlie

Charles P. LaVallee
Chief Executive Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity

P.S. In the next 12 months, we will present our 5,000th piece of adaptive equipment, and it’s thanks to YOU that we gotten to such an incredible milestone!

The Entire Family Is Impacted Immediately by My Stroller®

From the very first push, an adaptive stroller creates a life-changing impact.

This light-weight equipment is giving families the chance to participate in the community safely AND comfortably. It is allowing families to be “on-the-go” and truly live life to the fullest… together!

Two stroller recipients, who are ready to GO!

I had no idea how transformative an adaptive stroller would be for our families when Variety began its My Stroller® Program, so here is a quick overview to bring you more into their lives.

The adaptive stroller only weighs 29-pounds, and it conveniently folds up like a toddler’s “umbrella stroller” to easily fit in a car trunk.

As a comparison, a power-wheelchair (which many of our kids also use and need) can weigh 100’s of pounds and can’t be broken down easily. So, many families have to take apart the wheelchair every time they want to take their child in the car.

The adaptive stroller gives families the ability to be more “on-the-go” when things come up unexpectedly and make it easier for them to participate in the community.

Adaptive strollers also provide incredible safely, and especially for kids / youth that run off, or away when in the community, this equipment makes a world of difference.

Parents, siblings, and even grandparents have highlighted these details to me to help explain why an adaptive stroller makes such a dramatic difference in all their lives.

Variety’s My Stroller Program provides eligible children with disabilities (ages 3 through 21) with their own adaptive stroller (i.e., a Kid Kart Mighty Lite) at no cost to the family.

These kids are looking super comfy in their new strollers!

You can be a part of making a difference today by supporting Variety’s My Stroller Program.

Any donation truly helps, as we strive to give kids and their families mobility equipment that will let them thrive!

For kids like, Jace (pictured below), receiving an adaptive stroller is transformative, and his mom, Kim shared WHY it is so important, by saying,

Jace is pictured in his new adaptive stroller!

“I cannot take Jace, as well as his 3-year-old typical brother out together because if one of them gets away from me, I can’t leave the other to chase them. It is not just exhausting, it is scary.

Jace is also getting too heavy to lift, so the stroller enables us to go out and participate in the community, and to no longer be isolated at home.”

Variety’s work is certainly not the solution to all of life’s problems, but we feel privileged to provide such life-changing equipment to these extraordinary kids and their families.

At Variety, we are all about HELPING KIDS, BE KIDS!

Take good care,

Charlie

Charles P. LaVallee
Chief Executive Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity

P.S. For families that are interested in an adaptive stroller (or an adaptive bike and/or communication device), please visit Variety’s website (www.varietypittsburgh.org/applynow)  to learn more about the program eligibility and/or to apply. If you have questions or need help, please contact Variety at (724) 933-0460 or at info@varietypittsburgh.org.

*WHOOSH*

Can you still remember the wind ‘whooshing’ past your face… as you raced down the neighborhood street on your first bike?

Throughout the years, I have listened to parents tell me about the heartache they feel again and again, as they would watch their child be left out or left behind from the other kids because riding a two-wheeled bike was not possible.

One father recently shared that he was just, “tired of watching his daughter cry when the other kids went off to ride bikes.”

It broke his heart, and his words broke mine… until we presented his daughter, Addyson with her own adaptive bike this past April (pictured below), and there were A LOT of smiles!

Bike riding has always been considered a “childhood milestone” (giving kids joy, freedom, belonging), and for a child with disabilities, an adaptive bike is truly life-changing because it makes bike riding possible.

You can be a part of changing a child’s life and bring your own bike riding memories to life by supporting My Bike. Any donation makes a difference, as we strive to give all kids the chance to ride bikes and have fun.

As I’ve said many times, thank you so much for being a part of the Variety Family, where it is truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

It’s Only The Beginning

Receiving an adaptive bike is only the beginning of the impact for our kids.

Please take a minute to read about Johnny Heubel, an 18-year old who has greatly inspired us all.

Johnny received his new adaptive bike last month at Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit, and his mother, Megan shared why this bike is so important,

“The programs that are created, in this example, My Bike, are the best things our family has had a chance to be a part of. Since Johnathan’s accident, I say this word (CHANCE) because the bike is our first-move outside of a wheelchair to liberate him with a step of independence.

We hope as a family, along with Jonathan’s first-hand team that this adaptive bike will allow Jonathan to become more mobile – for more strength to evolve within his legs. We hope riding a bike will help improve his cognitive abilities, too. The concept of, ‘like riding a bike’ helps us to take-on change in his rehabilitation with OPTIMISM!”

After Johnny received his new bike, his family presented us with this special note,

Johnny reminds us that receiving this adaptive equipment is only the beginning. Whether it’s an adaptive bike, adaptive stroller, or communication device, we are giving kids the opportunity to discover their own possibilities.

However, our need for support right now has never been more critical to fund more adaptive bikes (at $1,800 per bike) and adaptive strollers (at $1,500 per stroller).

All donations go directly to our kids and any amount will make a difference.

Supporting My Bike or My Stroller is even easier with recent updates, but we also have a form to donate by mail.

Thank you so much for being a part of the Variety Family, where it is ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

P.S. You can read more about Johnny’s inspiring journey at https://www.facebook.com/HEUBELSTRONG23

It Opens A New World for Ava and Aubree

And for these two sisters, it is only the beginning…

Twin sisters, Ava and Aubree each received their own adaptive bikes AND adaptive strollers from Variety (pictured above on their new bikes), but receiving the equipment was only the beginning for them and their family.

Their mom, Kelsey shared how much they loved their new bikes, by saying,

“We brought their bikes inside last night and set them up on the stationary stands. Ava and Aubree were riding them until bedtime, and then went straight to them as soon as they woke up!”

Kelsey really got to the heart of how life-changing the strollers are when she shared,These strollers make it possible to take the girls places. We want them to be as safe as possible, but also be able to go to events/outings just like typical kids can.

We’ve been able to go to the zoo twice this year, and we even bought a membership, which we would have never done if not for these strollers. So… there are no words to thank you all enough.”

Over the last year, Variety’s impact has been truly remarkable and historic for our small organization, and that impact isn’t slowing down.

For many months now, we have been receiving more than 30 applications per week, and by the end of June, we are scheduled to present another 85-100 pieces of adaptive equipment!

However, right now, we desperately need to raise funds for our My Bike® and My Stroller® Programs. We are writing to ask you to join us in a Mobility Campaign to make sure no child has to wait on their adaptive bike or stroller.

If you are able to help, we would greatly appreciate it. These kids wait on so many things, so it is my hope that we will not need a waiting list at all.

You can give a donation online for My Bike or My Stroller, or use the attached donation form to give by mail.

Truly, any amount will make a difference because if we all give some, there is no stopping how many more kids we can impact, TOGETHER!

Alessia Marks #1,000 During Pandemic!

I hope you’re sitting down because we have some very positive news that might just knock your socks off!

Last month, we presented three-year-old Alessia with her new adaptive bike.

Not only was it a beautiful pink bike, but it was the 1,000th piece of mobility or communication equipment that we’ve presented to kids during the pandemic!

In total, we have presented 1,062 pieces of life-changing equipment during the pandemic (worth more than $1.5 million), and that number goes up almost daily!

Our families tell us constantly how critical this equipment is for their children, and even more so during the pandemic.

Just few days after receiving her new bike, Alessia’s mom sent the below photo, and shared, “Alessia loves her bike, and she has been riding her bike in the house on the stationary stand provided by Variety! She has her baby in the back and her MP3 player and headphones clipped on, and she rides for hours!”

1,062 is our new favorite number. It makes us smile for the kids and their families, and it makes us think of YOU and what we have accomplished together.

We sincerely appreciate each of you for helping to make such incredible impact possible because IT’S ALL FOR THE KIDS!

P.S. You can see a few more photos of Alessia from the day she received her new bike in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article!

Every Child Deserves A Voice 24/7

Have you communicated with someone today?

The reality for many of our kids is that they are living without a voice, and are not able to communicate their needs, wants, or feelings. Just imagine that for a second.

That’s why I’m so proud that our My Voice® Program is giving kids a tool to communicate 24/7 because communication is vital to daily life.

LET’S PAUSE & SMILE FOR BEN!

“I can already tell that it’s going to be a game changer for all of us.” That’s what Susan shared a couple months after her son, Ben received his new communication device (or talker)!

Susan then described a time when Ben used his talker to tell her, “I’m tired,” which she thought was odd at the time because he never expressed that feeling before, but he ended up sound asleep by 6:30pm and he slept THE WHOLE NIGHT.

Susan said, He must have been tired! But I was so floored and touched and borderline emotional that he expressed that to me.”

LET’S ALSO SMILE FOR KEVIN!!

Kevin’s mom, LaVelle shared one very special moment that happened,

“I looked at Kevin and said, ‘I love you, buddy,’ and he took his talker, oriented himself towards me, and he used it to reply, ‘I love you more!’

Then, without skipping a beat, Kevin put down his talker and threw his arms around my neck and hugged me to demonstrate what he just said.”

Lavelle shared another experience, “Kevin indicated that he needed to go potty with sign language. I kind of dismissed it, but he made it very clear using his talker that he had to go potty now!…

I love that I can now communicate with my son, but more importantly, he can communicate with me!”

These kids are so special, and some just need a way to connect and let people connect with them, and My Voice is giving them that opportunity.

Partner Spotlight: Guardian Protection Gives Back!

Group photo from the 2019 Guardian giveaway.

Since 2008, Guardian Protection has partnered with Variety and in 2015, the Guardian team began an annual tradition of raising funds to sponsor adaptive bikes or adaptive strollers for kids with disabilities

Morgan and her family are all smiles above!

Their employees went ABOVE AND BEYOND to raise money however they could do it.  they organized a gingerbread house-building contests, 50-50 raffles, bake sales, and even a summer carnival, which featured an Executive Dunk Tank!

The Guardian team did whatever it took to raise the funds because they truly believed the importance of giving kids newfound freedom and the chance to be just like the other kids.

Group photo from the 2018 Guardian giveaway!

Since, 2015, the Guardian team has sponsored seven adaptive bikes and two adaptive strollers, and each year, Guardian invites the kids to their corporate headquarters to truly celebrate their special day.

Guardian always has purple POM-POMS to add in more fun!
The giveaway events at Guardian are truly out-of-this-world for our kids.

Guardian creates an entire bike route with tape around their headquarters for the kids to take their first bike rides; they provide refreshments and snacks (and even a candy station one year for the kids) to feel welcome; and they truly go the extra mile to decorate the space with balloons and signage that make the kids feel extra special.

Guardian even created our logo out of tape to decorate the bike route!

Guardian has made giving back part of their culture, and we are so grateful for the life-changing equipment that they have created for kids and their families!

Group photo from the first Guardian Giveaway in 2015!

Check out this article from our first Guardian giveaway in 2015 that was done by the Tribune Review!

 

Benson Chose A BLUE BIKE w/ His Talker!

This is Giving Kids the Power to Choose and Express Themselves… Kids Like Benson.

4-year old Benson was recently fit / measured for his new adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller at the Tuscarora IU 11, and it was a beautiful day (see photos below).

Benson also has a communication device (or talker) from Variety that he received more than a year ago, and it has truly given him a voice.

When his mom, Hilary asked him how he felt riding the bike, he used his talker to exclaim, ”HAPPY!”

When it was time to get off the bike, his mom asked, ”How are you feeling?”, and Benson quickly replied via his talker, “Want more! Want more!”

So, we let him take another loop, but before he was finished, I got to hear Benson use his talker to CHOOSE BLUE for the color of his new bike!

We find it thrilling that Benson was able to communicate his feelings immediately in the moment because he had his talker (his voice)…

These talkers are truly opening up a whole new world for our kids and their families, and they’re giving children the power to choose for themselves without frustration.

That is a beautiful thing.