Rain or Shine… Our Kids Ride!

Above:  Sadie is all smiles surrounded by her family and myself, as well as Variety Advisory Board Member, Josh Kopp and his family, who sponsored Sadie’s bike.

This past Monday, a handful of Variety kids rode their adaptive bikes in the Labor Day Parade through downtown Pittsburgh, and even though the forecast was mostly rain, the kids arrived and were READY TO RIDE!

Above:  James is getting revved-up for the parade with his parents and sister, Krissy.

This was James’ 4th year riding his bike in the Labor Day Parade, and his sister, Krissy helped us understand what the day and experience mean, as she shared:

“Though the weather at this year’s Labor Day parade was dreary, the smile that my brother, James, had on his face helped make the day brighter as he rode his bike through the puddle-laden streets of Pittsburgh!

This was the fourth year that James has had the opportunity to ride his bike in the parade, and each year we are thankful for the opportunity to participate. After a two-year pause on the parade, due to COVID-19, we were especially excited to get back into the action.

As our dad, Jimmy, is a union carpenter in Local 432, this opportunity means so much more to us than just getting James some exercise in one of the coolest ways possible; there’s few things more exciting than being in a parade!

We are proud of our dad and the work he puts in every day to take care of our family. We feel as if walking, and riding, in the parade is a great way to honor his work and show him how proud of him we are!

James loves riding his bike and getting to do it on a day that celebrates labor unions, and his dad’s hard work, means a lot to him.

Without the bike from Variety, James would not have the same experience being in the parade as other families walking in the Labor Day Parade; instead of actively participating on his bike, he would be pushed in his wheelchair.

In the parade this year, I was the one walking behind James, giving the bike a push if he needed it; in this moment, I was again thankful for the opportunities the bike has provided me to spend time with James.

As I’ve gotten older and things in my life have changed, I haven’t been home nearly as often as I’d like to, to spend time with James and the rest of my family. I will absolutely cherish this time I had with all of them, and I know this time spent with James will live on forever in my memory.

We all had a wonderful time at the parade, despite the rain! James always says on a rainy day, ‘it’s a good day for ducks,’ but I think the opportunity to see James and the other riders in the parade made it a great day for everyone!

Thank you so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

Why Variety Matters

A very special note from Justice’s mom, Vikki, who wrote to us after Justice received her PINK adaptive bike a few weeks ago! Vikki’s words shine a light on why Variety matters.

Vikki wrote to us, “This is Justice’s very first bike ever….and it’s all thanks to Variety the Children’s Charity. They are amazing and do amazing things. They help kids like Justice show their abilities not their disabilities….I was in tears. I have no words for how amazing they are and how grateful we are for this gift…Thank you so much for all you do…remember just because your child has disabilities doesn’t mean they aren’t able to do something.”

Riding Bikes, Like Kids Do

Evan, Tahjanai, and Noah are three recent My Bike® recipients (see them riding below), and they now have an adaptive bike of their very own that was made to meet their needs!

Not only do parents explain their hope for this life-changing equipment, but they also help us all understand why it’s needed and important.

Before 17-year old Evan (pictured above) received his new adaptive bike from Variety, his mom, Leila told us what this bike will mean for her son, by saying,

“With an adaptive bike, it will help with his mobility, confidence, exercise, and also he will be able to join the family in a bike ride which will make him very happy.

When we try a regular bike, he is wobbly, falls, and gets frustrated. He then walks, and cannot keep up. Looking forward to the family time!

12-year old Tahjanai from Luzerne County (pictured below) was grinning from ear-to-ear when she received her new adaptive bike from Variety, and I think her smile says it ALL!

Last month, 5-year-old Liam (pictured below) from Washington County received his new adaptive bike from Variety, and it was truly a day to remember for his family!

Liam’s mom, Erin described the life-changing difference this bike will have on her son and family:

“My hope is that the adaptive bike will allow Liam the freedom to ride a bike on his own.

At 5 years old, this will not be the first bike he has tried to ride. The biggest issue we have is keeping his feet on the pedals. He really enjoys being on a bike, but his feet slip off the pedals. He also gets fatigued from even putting his feet on the foot rest for an extended time.

I am excited that Liam will finally have a bike that he can learn to pedal, gain leg strength, and independence! An adaptive bike will also allow Liam to do activities that other children his age participate in. That bit of normalcy is a blessing for which gives us hope.”

Through your support and partnership… WE’RE HELPING KIDS, BE KIDS, TOGETHER!

More Bikes for More Kids

Can you remember riding your first bike?
Bike riding is a true childhood milestone for all kids, but for kids with disabilities, it creates a ripple of life-changing impact.
Natalie is all smiles for her second bike after the first “made life easier and happier” for her whole family…

Lincoln’s new bike will not only bring great joy, but it will help to strengthen his legs while having fun with his family…
Oliver will be able to “keep up with his four siblings” on his new bike…
Variety’s My Bike® Program has provided more than 2,600 adaptive bikes, and we’re not slowing down… because every child deserves to ride a bike.
Thank you so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

P.S. A special thanks to Seneca Highlands Intermediate Unit 9 and Central Intermediate Unit 10, who helped us make the smiles above possible.

Our Spring Tour Keeps Rolling On!

We have “miles of smiles” to share as Variety’s 2022 SPRING LIFE-CHANGING TOUR continued with another 39 adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers presented in partnership with Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29, Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8, and Blackburn’s!

We saw pure joy, as 9-year-old Saj (above) was strapped into her new adaptive bike, and her mom, Shalease helped us understand why it will make a huge impact:

“The adaptive bike will most importantly allow Saj to enjoy an outdoor activity that most of her peers enjoy. It will also help Saj strengthen her left side where she has limited mobility. Overall, I think this bike will be transformative for her overall health physically, as well as mentally and emotionally.”

5-year old Noah (above) received his new adaptive stroller a few weeks ago, and his mom, Anne shared the life-changing difference it will make for them both:

“In large groups of people, Noah either runs off and hides, or claws me or someone else to hold him, especially if he doesn’t know anyone. It’s difficult to go anywhere with him, and holds us back from a lot of things.

An adaptive stroller that he can fit in will make going anywhere more enjoyable for us all. I will be able to take him more places by myself, and just about anywhere! Can you imagine the possibilities and new adventures he can enjoy at 5 years old?!

At the presentation, Anne also shared this phenomenal update, “Noah received a communication device in January 2020, but now hardly has to use it! He went from no words to saying most words on his own. He still takes his device with him to school just in case, but he is mostly speaking with his own voice.”

3-year-old Dawson and his family (above) were thrilled to receive his new adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller, but his mom, Jennifer shared why the stroller will make a world of difference:

“Dawson is a very active child, and it is nearly impossible to safely direct him in public or outside. Dawson misses out on so many activities because allowing him to walk freely can be a danger to him. Dawson will run and pull away if he becomes overwhelmed, or if it’s an environment he’s not familiar with.

I’m hoping the adaptive stroller will give him a better quality of life and so much more social interaction. Dawson is getting too big for a standard stroller, so without an adaptive stroller, he can’t participate in so many things a child his age should be able to do.”

Later that day, Dawson’s family was so excited because they were able to use the stroller to go to the store to get him a new pair of sneakers, and it was the first time they were able to take him to the store!

We also received incredible support by the media, who help us create greater awareness and find more kids that can benefit from our programs – don’t miss these stories by WNEP-TV, WTAJ-TV, and the Republican Herald.

Open Up for Some Good News!

Variety’s 2022 SPRING LIFE-CHANGING TOUR continues with nearly 40 more adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers being presented with Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit 16, AFSCME Council 13, Westmoreland Intermediate Unit 7, Clairview School, and Blackburn’s!

Don’t miss reading why this mobility equipment will truly change the lives of the kids and their families!

It was a big day for twin brothers, Judah and Silas (from Northumberland County), who received their new adaptive bikes, and their mom, Nicole told us why the bikes will make a big difference:

For Judah, the combination of low coordination and anxiety make it difficult for him to join in on what most consider normal activities.

An adaptive bike will allow him to develop the coordination necessary to not only ride a bike, but to be able to participate in other activities and remove the anxiety and fear holding him back!”

Silas has fought every day to overcome challenges and difficulties from birth, and he still struggles with balance, coordination, and vision. He desperately wants to play with and partake in the same activities as his family, friends, and peers at school, but often struggles and becomes frustrated.

An adaptive bike will not only help improve his balance and coordination, but also his confidence – leading him to gain more independence and freedom!

Two bikes for two brothers – that’s something to make us all smile!

Delilah-Rose from Dauphin County is pictured above on her beautiful new pink adaptive bike, and her mom, Delaina shared:

“An adaptive bike will really help with my daughter’s coordination issues.

Also, she will be able to ride bikes with her cousins who are the same age without them asking me why can’t she play like them.

This bike will build her confidence in being to do something new and keep her self-esteem high because she can now do the same activities as the other children her age!”

Luke from Westmoreland County was beaming with joy on his new adaptive bike, and that night, Luke’s mom shared this beautiful message:

“Luke is beyond elated for his bike and has been talking about it for a couple weeks since we found out we were approved.

He got it today and the whole way home all I heard was, ‘Mommy where’s my blue bike,” and “Mommy I ride my blue bike.’

A huge thank you to the people who donate to Variety to make kids like Luke’s dreams come true, and turning our Luke’s dream of riding with his siblings and keeping up with them a reality.

He is always such a happy determined kiddo and this bike gives him the chance to keep fighting.”

Check out more from our presentation in Westmoreland County by reading this terrific news story by the Tribune Review (Greensburg)!

Life-Changing Tour for KIDS!

Last month, we kicked off Variety’s 2022 Spring Life-Changing Tour for Kids, and we presented more than 30 adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers in partnership with Covestro, Midwestern Intermediate Unit 4, Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit 5, and Blackburn’s!

8-year old Emily (above) received her second adaptive bike (after outgrowing the first one), and she was ALL SMILES, as she tried it out.

Her dad, Todd explained why it will be transformative for his daughter, by saying, “Emily has a Rifton adaptive bike from Variety that she has outgrown. She loves riding her bike around the neighborhood with her brother, Sam (who also has a Rifton adaptive bike from Variety).

Emily thrives on being independent like her peers. She also cannot walk independently, so the bike helps her to get needed exercise as well.”

9-year old, Robert and his parents (above) were beaming with joy when he received his own adaptive stroller.

His mom, Amanda shared why this piece of equipment means so much, The adaptive stroller will help us tremendously. It is getting harder for us to pick Robert up and put him down, or carry him for a long distance. We hope the stroller helps us when going places where he will get tired out fast. The stroller we have is very bulky and takes up all the room in the trunk of the car.

With this adaptive stroller, it will allow us to become closer connected because we can stay together while out shopping, touring, vacationing, etc.”

8-year old, Rowan (above) also received his new adaptive bike last month, and his mom, Mandy shared,

Our hope for Rowan having this bike is that he will be able to have the same opportunity as everyone else. This bike will give us the opportunity to get out in the community more. We have seen him wanting to ride bikes with his sisters as they are learning to ride their bikes

I believe this bike will serve in many great areas of Rowan’s development physically, mentally, and socially. It will also create independence within him, which we hope will give him the self-confidence to try and ultimately to move for himself.”

We have much more to come from our 2022 Spring Tour, so stay tuned for even more reasons to smile.

Smile! Smile! Smile!

We always tell families who are receiving their new equipment that it is only the beginning, and these beautiful updates we recently received will surely give you a reason to smile!!

21-year old, Laila (pictured below) received her adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller from Variety more than two years ago.

Her mom, Crystal shared,“Since Laila has received her adaptive stroller, we have been able to travel and experience more of life outside of the house! She is safe in the stroller, and I as her parent can have moments of ease. The wheelchair we used before was soooo heavy and difficult to lift, so the stroller has been such a blessing for me.

We also received an adaptive bike, and Laila can exercise in OR outside of the home. Both have been a gift to Laila and our family. We have experienced events that we would not have done before.”

I especially love this photo of Laila because her adaptive stroller allows her to walk the dog safely around the neighborhood alongside her family.

A year ago, 15-year old Bridget (pictured below) received her new adaptive bike, and we were thrilled when her mom, Kathleen shared with us, “I wanted to share that Bridget’s gym teacher asked if they could use Bridget’s Bike in her gym class, while the weather is still inclement. We were happy to oblige and she is one happy girl!”

Variety’s My Bike®, My Stroller®, and My Voice® Programs are empowering kids and their families with life-changing impact happening around the clock.

We are the helpers that are listening and responding to the needs of kids with disabilities, and our programs are giving them opportunities to live life to the fullest.

Exciting Updates & A Smile!

We’re thrilled to share our updated program handout and application for 2022 that include increased income guidelines!

We hope you’ll share these with families, peers, and others in your network/community that may benefit from our mobility and communication programs.

As a special thanks for being part of the Variety community, we wanted to send you another reason to smile because Kinley has new freedom!

Last Fall, Kinley and her parents were over-the-moon to receive her new adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller – and she’s riding her bike for the first time above!

For Kinley and her family, this mobility equipment meant so much, and her mom, Casey explained the transformative difference it would make, by saying, “Our family is very active, and with an adaptive bike, Kinley will be able to ride bikes with her siblings (and family) on a local bike trail that visit frequently!

Kinley is also too big for the side-cart we were using, so our family can’t even go on bike rides right now. Kinley has grown out of her typical stroller as well, but without one, it restricts the activities we can do safely as a family – like going on walks or to the park. The adaptive stroller will keep Kinley safe and comfortable.”

Thank you so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

Celebrating #5,000 – United Together for KIDS!

We hope you can smile and celebrate with us, as you read the recap below on reaching an incredible milestone!

Last Wednesday, we presented the 5,000th piece of adaptive equipment, which means that we have presented “5,000” adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and communication devices to kids and their families (worth more than $7.75 million altogether)!

#5,000 was a PINK adaptive bike presented to Riley (pictured above), and she AND her parents were so happy and excited. Beforehand, Riley’s mom, Suzie helped us understand the bike’s significance, by sharing,

“Riley never rode a bike before starting physical therapy at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. We tried tricycles and training wheels, but they weren’t equipped for her like this special bike.

The first time Rylie rode the adaptive bike in therapy, she was so proud and happy to be riding a bike.

As she pedaled around for the first time on it, she exclaimed, ‘I’m doing it! I can ride just like everyone else!’

When I told Rylie that she was approved for My Bike, she was so happy and said, ‘I can ride a bike with my friends now!’

Finding Variety and getting this bike taught and motivated me to think about how many other things we thought Rylie can’t do, that she actually can do with the right tools or equipment. Rather than, ‘Oh, she just can’t,’ my mindset now is, ‘How can she? How can we find a way?’”

You don’t want to miss watching Riley explain for herself what the new bike means in this KDKA-TV news piece.

Additionally, we were grateful to have the same key partners, who were influential in helping us kick-off My Bike nine years ago:  The Honorable Tom Corbett, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Highmark’s Deb Rice-Johnson, PNC’s Andrea Carelli, and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Travis Williams (pictured below in order on adaptive bikes).

As we continue to meet the mobility and communication needs of kids with disabilities, at the very center is ensuring that all children have a way to communicate.

This TribLive article features Tyler, and it highlights his miraculous voice journey with the help of a communication device from Variety.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 will always be a significant date in Variety’s history, but reaching this milestone happened because of the support, enthusiasm, and dedication of SO MANY people and organizations.

We applaud the entire COMMUNITY, and THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for what you’ve helped us to accomplish for kids and their families.