Last Tuesday, we had a conversation with Wren, mother of 5-year-old Bjorn (pictured below), who received his own communication device from Variety in February… and we simply can’t stop talking about it!
Wren explained all the ways that having a communication device has truly changed her son’s life, and her own, by saying,
“Since receiving the communication device, Bjorn has gone from being a completely non-speaking child, to using his device to communicate with everyone, and it has been the most beautiful transformation to watch!!
Now, Bjorn is SO HAPPY because the device is easy for him to use and he gets his points across… he requests things, identifies things, picks his clothes out every morning, and even says what he wants to do next…
He’ll use his device to say, ‘Going to grammy’s house!’ with a smile.
Bjorn put his own picture in there and loves introducing himself to others – the device has been like a miracle.
I can’t wait to see where the device takes him because now, he has no more limitations.
Bjorn talks to me in the car with his device, and since receiving it, our relationship is so much closer now that we can communicate and that just makes my heart leap.
He’s in preschool and starting Kindergarten next fall, and through his device, he shows us that he knows so much! He knows his shapes, numbers, and places, and he loves that it’s speaking the words for him.
Bjorn takes ownership of the device, and he takes it everywhere he goes. His confidence is truly soaring because of the communication device.”
We simply wanted to share some QUICK good news to brighten your day.
Now that Grace has her own communication device, she is simply “going to soar” in life, as her Speech Language Pathologist, Alix shared,
“Grace was presented her device today with her mom and class!
We are so thrilled and excited, and her er reaction to it was priceless!
The first thing she did was request her favorite snack, goldfish, and say ‘HI’ to her favorite peer in her classroom.
We are all so thankful for this opportunity and equipment for Grace.
You at Variety were our light at the end of the tunnel, and we can’t wait to watch Grace soar because of you!
We promise your day will be brighter, if you take a moment to see a few kids we recently met and read why their new equipment will be transformative.
Variety has been on the road throughout March and April – presenting 98 adaptive bikes/adaptive strollers to kids/youth throughout our service area – kids like Ezell, Brooklyn, Michael, and Emma!
Ezell’s mom, Samantha shared, “An adaptive bike will greatly increase Ezell’s activity while boosting his self-confidence, and he will be able to ride and have fun with his friends and participate! The exercise will help his lung issues and hopefully his rigid muscles. This bike will be such a blessing for our sweet little guy, who so badly wants to be included.”
Brooklyn’s mom, Katie told us simply, “This adaptive stroller will help us SO much, and we can take Brooklyn on a lot more outings as a family! It will make transportation so much easier for us as well!”
Michael’s physical therapist, Kim explained, “The adaptive bike will provide Michael with increased social interaction with peers and his family, as well as an excellent means of increasing his overall endurance to activity.”
Emma was all smiles, as she trialed an adaptive bike (the last step in the process before ordering), and she even beat Charlie in a race, so her smile is extra big above!
A massive thanks to our incredible partners that helped to make this impact possible, including: BLaST IU17, Central Susquehanna IU16 and Berwick Middle School, Z&M Harley-Davidson, Northwest Tri-County IU5, Appalachia IU8, Riverview IU6, Clairview School and Westmoreland IU7, Capital Blue Cross, Lincoln IU12, ARIN IU28, Covestro, and of course, Blackburn’s, who joins us at every presentation!
We are thrilled to share this video that highlights our newly formed partnership with Z&M Harley-Davidson in Greensburg!
Travis (pictured below) was the first of many youngsters that will have their lives transformed by our partnership with Z&M, who have a goal of sponsoring 20 more pieces of equipment this year.
Before receiving his new bike, Travis’ mom, Kelly shared this with us,
“Z&M is the first place Travis met the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, and his dad, Ed bought a Harley there. So, it is an important place for him and getting his adaptive bike will make him feel special! With the adaptive bike, Travis will now have his own ‘set-of-wheels’ like his dad.
Travis will finally have the freedom to ride bikes alongside his little sister. This bike will give our whole family chances to spend more quality time together outdoors, so we’re all looking forward to it! The bike will make him feel free and special and in control.”
We were so grateful to the Latrobe Bulletin for capturing all the joy of this partnership in this article, so don’t miss reading it!
A few weeks ago, we met 6-year-old, Morgan and her mom, Janae, as we presented Morgan with her own adaptive stroller!!
This very special mom-daughter duo reminded us not to take my life for granted, but to live life and take every day with gratitude, especially the little moments.
At the presentation, Janae looked us in the eyes with all the emotion you can imagine, and she simply said, “Now, we won’t be stuck at home anymore...”
And, because they had an adaptive stroller, Janae and Morgan were able to be “on-the-go” immediately after leaving the presentation, as Janae shared with us below!
Janae joyfully shared the above photo and these words,
“Morgan and I had a wonderful, stress-free time in Lowe’s after the presentation. We purchased a few plants for the house, and tomato seeds because we love to grow Morgan’s favorite vegetable. We even picked paint swatches for a room make over.
After that we went to BJ’S and then our last stop was McDonald’s. Thank you so much again for this gift… I have been crying tears of joy all day!”
At the presentation, Jane spoke very openly as she has 4 children, 3 of which are on the spectrum, but because Morgan has no safety awareness, she has had to miss out on a lot of things.
Janae had to recently miss one of her son’s big high school sports moments because she couldn’t take Morgan there safely. Now, she doesn’t have to miss anything!
These two helped us realize how often we take for granted that we can “run out” to the store for food or medicine or an emergency, but for Janae and Morgan, it was impossible until they got an adaptive stroller.
Let’s all remember that small moments can change our lives the most, so take on every day with gratitude.
Variety hit the road last week to present more than 20 adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers to local kids – and there’s too much joy to share!
Ryleigh received her new PINK adaptive bike and adaptive stroller (above), and her mom, Anastasia explained,
“We have been working with Ryleigh on her standard bike, but all the motor planning involved to be able to ride a bike seems to be where she is struggling. She has gotten so frustrated with her bicycle that she won’t even try to get on it anymore…
It is heartbreaking for her, and us, when she sees her twin brother, Gregory and the other kids in the neighborhood riding bikes together and she isn’t able to ride anything with them.
Having an adaptive bike will now give her a way to feel included, give her exercise, and help her master all the skills necessary to be able to ride a bike.
Ryleigh also struggles with endurance, and being able to walk for long distances or long periods of time. I often end up carrying her in situations like these, so having an adaptive stroller will allow us to go more places and be able to give her the breaks she needs.”
In partnership with the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit 16 and the Berwick School District, we experienced even more joy last Wednesday in Berwick, Pa. – including MALANI!
After Malani received her new adaptive bike (above), her mom, Nicole wrote to us and shared,
“From the bottoms of our heart, THANK you for allowing Malani to be just like the other kids in our neighborhood. She will enjoy riding her bike with everyone else this summer, and just being a “regular kid”. The way she lit up today brought tears to my heart.”
This is a short video from Nicole capturing Malani’s pure joy – https://www.youtube.com/shorts/445mXSpod6U
Don’t miss these news stories from last week that captured some truly beautiful moments:
- WNEP TV (3/7): Adaptive bikes given to kids
- FOX56 TV (3/8): Equipment for kids with disabilities
- WNEP TV (3/8): Adaptive bikes donated to students in Berwick
- Williamsport Sun Gazette (3/8): Area children get ‘life changing’ adaptive equipment
- Press Enterprise (3/9): Riding high on custom bikes
Thanks for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!
Gia’s smile was a sight to see, as she tested out her new adaptive bike! It was her second after outgrowing her first bike, and Gia’s mom, Daria explained how important it is for her daughter, by saying,
“Gia was gifted her first bike in Kindergarten and she was thrilled. Her adaptive tricycle allowed her to not only exercise, but also actively participate with her sister.
At first she needed quite a bit of help steering and paying better attention, but she is gradually improving. Our hope is that she can learn to fully steer on her own and of course safely exercise as well.
We also believe when she is able to ride the bike completely on her own she will gain a tremendous amount of confidence that will hopefully spill over into other aspects of her life.”
At the presentation, Gia’s dad, Doug told us, “This bike is another form of exercise for her! We have a treadmill at home, but the bike is much more enjoyable for Gia (and fun). She outgrew her other adaptive bike right when she was getting the hang of steering it, so when we found out we could get a second one, we instantly applied!”
I hope you’ll share these with families, peers, and others in your network/community that may benefit from our mobility and communication programs (or know someone else that can).
Our programs are truly impacting kids, like Zeke and Joanna, who are all smiles below on their new adaptive bikes!
Zeke is ready to ride on his new adaptive bike (above), and prior to receiving it, his mom, Katherine told us,
“Zeke would love to have more ways to play with other kids and do more ‘regular stuff’ (as he says). He often chooses to sit out because he feels he won’t keep up. Being able to join in with bikes in the alley in a way he can do would be amazing.
His balance, endurance, strength, and coordination would make a standard bike extremely challenging, but an adaptive bike would be a great option for him. Zeke’s adaptive stroller has let us do SO much more in the community and has really eased medical appointments – we’re excited to see how he will grow from having a bike!”
Smile along with Joanna and her family (below)!
Before receiving her new set-of-wheels, Joanna’s parents, Julia and Jason shared how much this new bike means, by saying,
“Joanna has an older brother and two younger sisters. Her sisters are learning how to ride independently, and she wants to be able to ride with them. We’ve tried several different tricycles, but haven’t found one that works efficiently for her. An adaptive bike that is fitted just for her will not only help her continue to gain strength but also confidence and independence, while joining her siblings in an activity that they love.”
Both bikes for Zeke and Joanna were generously sponsored via funds raised by Al’s Bike Drive, which sponsored 10 bikes altogether!!
An adaptive stroller has an immediate impact for every family, and it’s amazing to hear how it opens up new worlds for kids and their families – like Matteo.
Last March, 8-year-old Matteo received his new adaptive stroller (after already receiving his new bike).
Well, his mom Marie joyfully shared an experience that the stroller made possible,
“Thanks to Matteo’s special stroller, we were able to take a trip to Niagara Falls!! We walked around Goat Island with no issues, and I can’t thank you enough for making this possible.”
Prior to receiving an adaptive stroller, Matteo and his family were greatly limited in what they could do, together. Matteo’s Occupational Therapist, Theresa explained,
“Matteo has a history of running from his parents while shopping and in parking lots, putting him at risk of injury. Because of this, his family avoids any recreational activities in more crowded places that they would otherwise like to enjoy together.
An adaptive stroller will significantly improve the family’s participation within their community by improving safety and mobility on family outing.”
You can’t fully see Matteo’s joy above, as he gazes towards Niagara Falls, but you can definitely see him smile in this short video – riding his adaptive bike alongside his family!
With the greatest excitement, we wanted to share a recent episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids – featuring Variety kids Sam, Emily, and Sadie riding their adaptive bikes, and Sadie’s sister, Hadley on her two-wheeled bike.
Fred Rogers certainly would have loved seeing kids with special needs being included and riding their adaptive bikes for “the world” to celebrate.
Sam, Emily, Sadie, and Hadley are featured at the 11-minute mark of the episode, and you can watch it now by clicking this link!
Being on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood creates a multitude of visibility – not only by educating others on an adaptive bike, but by showing the world what these extraordinary kids can do.
We hope you’ll take a minute to share the episode with your networks, especially to celebrate Sam, Emily, Sadie, and Hadley!