For our kids, the chance to ride their adaptive bikes in the Labor Day Parade in Pittsburgh is an unforgettable experience, and this year was simply FULL OF SMILES.
We were fortunate to have Governor Josh Shapiro join us and celebrate the kids and families.
Governor Shapiro expressed his appreciation of them, and said, “I want you to know, we’re going to do everything we can to help.”
You can experience more of Monday’s joy and celebration by watching this video, United Together for Kids – just be ready to smile… a lot!
It is amazing what can happen when we all unite together for the needs of kids with disabilities.
P.S. On Monday, Anniyah’s mom, Cher proudly shared in our time together that Anniyah recently participated in a beauty pageant, and she used her communication device to answer the questions!! We are so proud of her!!
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!
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!
With their own adaptive bikes, Jaylen and Matthew got back some independence!
Jaylen is all smiles above on her new PINK adaptive bike, and her mom, Christina put into words what it means,
“For my daughter to receive an adaptive bike means she gets some of her independence back. Jaylen is almost 12 years old now, but when she was 4, she was in a terrible car accident in which she suffered brain damage.
Jaylen never got the chance to learn how to ride a bike before her injury, and because of her injury, she is not able to operate a regular bike. So, an adaptive bike will be amazing for her!
We all have bikes in our home – me, her mother, her stepdad, and two brothers, so we can’t wait to all be able to ride bikes together as a family!”
Matthew is ready-to-ride his new RED adaptive bike above, but his mom, Shirley explained why it’s so important,
“Matthew has been working so hard since his surgery in 2019 to be able to do all the activities he was able to do before the surgery.
Before, he loved riding his bike on all the trails in our area, and he has been unable to do so since 2019. This special bike will hopefully give him the confidence and stability to enjoy bike riding again with us and his friends!”
As always, thank you all so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!
End this year with a smile by reading what an adaptive bike has meant for Reese, who was smiling from ear-to-ear when she received her second bike!
Reese’s mom, Jamie put into words what an adaptive bike has meant,
“We struggle with weight and the pandemic has been a challenge for us, as we haven’t had our regular routines of going out and doing regular organized activities.
Bike riding though, is one form of exercise she is willing to do and enjoys. We currently go for walks but for any kind of distance she requires the wheelchair which kind of defeats the purpose of getting activity in.
With the bike, we have the opportunity to get her some additional activity in the evenings, so we can both work together on our health goals… and also have fun while doing it!
Several of Reese’s friends from school have adaptive bikes as well, and a group of 3 or 4 plan outings (with their parents) to ride bikes on trails as a group!
Trust me, the social impact of having an adaptive bike provides an incredibly powerful inducement to get the kids outside, and to also push hard, as they race each other and have the fun that typical kids experience on their bikes.
It’s a joy to watch and experience kids being kids, especially when they don’t always have that opportunity due to their physical circumstances.”
As always, thank you all so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!
Wishing you a very Happy New Year,
As the first snow of 2022 fell on Monday, Dec. 12, Variety’s kids were warm and joyful inside Covestro’s facility as they received bikes their new bikes and strollers through Variety’s My Bike® and My Stroller® programs. Whether it be their first or second time, the kids were ecstatic to try out their shiny, new adaptive equipment.
Gia received her second bike at the presentation, and her parents expressed how far she had come in the time she had her old one.
Daria said, “She can steer on her own in therapy. I think there was a lot going on for her and she was overwhelmed today, so it was harder for her to focus on steering.”
Gia was right behind Mike Schneck, Variety Board Chairman, in the bike parade, and gained on him quickly, though she didn’t have recent practice outside of therapy because she had grown out of her old one.
Daria said, “We’re getting this second one because she outgrew her first one. There’s a bigger one at PT (physical therapy), but she hasn’t ridden at home since she outgrew her old one.”
Gia’s father, Doug , explained that he’s glad to get Gia another bike for at-home riding because he hopes it will make exercise more appealing.
“It’s another form of exercise. It’s hard to get her to exercise, so this will be great,” Doug said, “We have a treadmill at home, but the bike is more enjoyable for her.”
Doug also expressed how happy he was to have another one at home for Gia to ride.
Doug said, “she outgrew her other one right when she was getting the hang of steering it, so when we found out that we could get another one, we applied immediately.”
Variety gives kids the ability to have a lifetime of riding as they can apply for a second bike at least three years after they received their first one. As long as families and kids still meet Variety’s requirements, the kids are eligible for two pieces of the same equipment!
For other kids at the program, it was their first piece of adaptive equipment from Variety, and the parents talked about how this new way of getting around will impact their child’s and family’s lives.
Cristobal had never received equipment from Variety before, but on Monday he was receiving both a stroller and a bike. His mom, Maria explained how she expects both pieces of equipment to positively impact Cristobal’s life.
“Cristobal doesn’t like to walk long distances, so I bought him another stroller from the store, but his legs still touched the ground. It was a risk for his legs to hang like that,” Maria explained, “With the bike, I’m hoping that it will help exercise his legs and help him to walk longer distances.”
She hopes that the bike will enable Cristobal to get out into the community for longer periods of time, but she has other expectations for the stroller. She hopes that he My Stroller® program will help to get Cristobal out into the community and do it safely.
Leon also hopes to use it to take Cristobal and the rest of the family to church. She was most appreciative that she could apply for both the Stroller and the Bike at the same time.
Leon explained, “I felt very blessed that we could receive both because I thought we would have to choose.”
Anyone who fits the criteria for equipment can apply for one or all three of the programs that Variety has.
Carleigh also received a stroller from Variety on Monday. While she had an adaptive stroller before, it was not one provided by Variety.
Her mom, Melissia , explained that the stroller will provide opportunities for Carleigh to experience the world safely again. Carleigh is too big for strollers made for typical children, and though the family has tried multiple strollers, they are all too easy for Carleigh to tip.
“She outgrew her stroller and was tipping them,” Melissia explained. “Without this program, I wouldn’t be able to do our day to day. It was either stay at home or put her at risk.”
Melissa shared the plans they had following the presentation and receiving the new equipment.
Melissa said, “We’re going to pick up her siblings and we’re heading to the grocery store after this!”
Variety aims to help kids be kids, and with Carleigh’s new equipment, she can get out into the community like her brothers and sisters!