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.

“YELLOW because I can SEE IT!”

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY!

21-year old Jessica is legally blind, but she just received her new adaptive bike from Variety, and it is something to make you smile!

When we first met Jessica at her bike fitting, she was so passionate about the color of her bike, and Jessica wanted YELLOW because she could see it – something no one realized until she told us.

At the presentation, Jessica shared in her own words what the bike means, by saying, This will help me to get out and ride more and get exercise. I love the exercise!

Her dad, Charlie also shared his excitement for the bike, by saying,

“Our family loves to ride bikes on the bike trails near our home.

Some of us have to run and hold onto a bike that Jessica is riding, or we have to rig a wagon to the back of our bikes just so we can all go together.

This bike opens a door to enjoy family bike rides. It will be so nice for us all to ride bikes together and be able to spend that family time enjoying exercise and the outdoors.

Jessica loves to exercise and having this special bike will mean our entire family can do this activity together.”

Jessica was a good reminder to me that you just don’t know who will want or love this equipment, and we should never make assumptions on who can ride a bike, even those with blindness or vision issues.

Racing to 5,000 After 9-Years of SMILES!

9 YEARS AGO, we officially kicked off Variety’s My Bike® Program with Governor Tom Corbett, Highmark’s Deb Rice-Johnson, PNC’s Andrea Carelli, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and we presented Bike #1 to Aubrey (pictured below) at PNC Park – it was one historic and special day!

What started as ‘just an idea’ to provide kids with special bikes in 2012 has now grown into three innovative equipment programs that are changing the lives of our children with disabilities, and the journey has been filled with a lot of smiles and hope from their families.

Most recently, Elliot (pictured below with his family) received his new adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller from Variety – after receiving his communication device last May!

After watching Elliot ride his new bike, his mom, Heather exclaimed with joy, “He seriously just pedaled for the first time!! Elliot and his siblings are very close and very active. We are so happy they can ride bikes together now!”

Now, Variety is racing towards presenting our 5,000th piece of adaptive equipment!

Celebrating Jaheim & Loralei!

Here are a few more reasons for you to smile – ENJOY!

14-year old, Jaheim (pictured above surrounded by his family) received his second adaptive bike through Variety at the Capital Area Intermediate Unit last month!

At the presentation, his mom, Camiline shared,

“With other kids, Jaheim uses his bike to have water balloon battlers or to play tag.

When he was born, I was told he would never be able to walk or talk. And, never be able to ride a bike. He’s walking, talking, and riding a bike.

This special bike strengthens his legs in the winter, gives him exercise, and mental relief.”

12-year old Loralei was “over-the-moon” excited when she also received her second adaptive bike, and she was all smiles surrounded by her family and me below.

Before receiving her new adaptive bike, Loralei’s mom, Jenny shared why this was so important for her daughter, by saying,

“I believe getting Loralei a larger version of the adaptive bike it will help to continue to strengthen her legs, core, and agility. She will be able to be included with her sister and friends to ride with them. She loves to be outside and around people.”

Loralei’s grandpa, Mike also shared in his own words what the bike means for his granddaughter, by saying,

“This bike is freedom because she always either has her poles or the chair. When she’s in the bike, it’s absolute freedom for her.”

KDKA’s Briana Smith joined us to share in the joy of the day, and she featured Loraeli in this beautiful story: https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/09/20/allegheny-county-kids-adaptive-bicycles/

Variety’s equipment programs are helping kids like Jaheim and Loralei THRIVE, and we’re so grateful that you can share in their joy with us!

A Beautiful Day at CSIU16

Our sincerest thanks to the entire team at Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit 16 for making Tuesday’s presentation so wonderful and memorable! Here are a couple photos of kids that received their new equipment on Tuesday, and what it is going to mean for their lives!

Aiden is pictured above on his new adaptive bike, and both his parents shared, “This is such a blessing! He sees other kids riding their bikes all the time, but has never been able to join in. Now he can!”

Chrissy has pure joy in the photo above, as she tries out her new adaptive stroller. Her guardian, Lois shared the difference it’s going to make, by saying,

This stroller will make going anywhere so much easier! Appointments, shopping, camping, community outings. Chrissy’s wheelchair is over 70 lbs. and very heavy for me, but I’ll be able to lift the stroller by myself because it’s so light-weight. The stroller will allow me to easily take Chrissy out on my own.”

Silas is pictured above in his new adaptive stroller, but he AND his brother, Judah were also both fit for adaptive bikes (see picture of them both below).

While riding a demo bike during his trial, and picking his color, Silas expressed that he would name his new bike “GREEN FIRE!”

Mary is a WARRIOR

I have to say it again, 14-year old MARY IS A WARRIOR!

This young girl’s story is both heartbreaking and awe-inspiring, but this past Tuesday, IT WAS ALL SMILES, as Mary received her new PINK adaptive bike (pictured below)!

KDKA has followed her journey after a very serious trampoline accident in August 2020 that resulted in a rare spinal cord injury. Mary’s mom, Pam Surano is a Reporter at KDKA, and a close Variety partner.

I have been grateful to help Pam and Mary throughout this difficult journey, and I wanted to let Pam’s own words truly describe what this new bike means,

“Mary is so vibrant and so active. A sudden accident has devastated her, not only does she have to face her fears every day and struggle to recover, she can do so little of what she used to be able to do. My hope is to get Mary outside enjoying life.

We have a secondary hope that the push through of her legs on the bike, along with the fun she will have while riding will encourage her to fight hard to re-gain leg function… and someday she will be able to push through on the bike on her own!!”

Mary is an inspiration, and as she looked forward to riding her new bike, she had some advice to share,

“Life is all about making the best of every situation, and when you don’t do that – it’s simply wasting time. So while you’re recovering, go out and get a new bike to enjoy the summer!! They are so much fun and definitely something to look forward to every day.”

Click here to watch Mary ride her new bike for the first time!

Here are a couple links to take in the full scope of Mary, and why she is a warrior:

I am in awe of the work we are doing and so grateful to you all. Our programs are making an immense impact, but it’s our extraordinary families that help us fully understand that impact first-hand.

Take good care,

Charlie

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

JOYANNA Shines with New Freedom

We wanted to share a quick smile that we thought you would enjoy.

JoyAnna received her new PINK adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller from Variety, and we can’t stop smiling after reading what her mom shared with us!

Prior to receiving her new equipment, JoyAnna’s mom, Valerie shared,

This adaptive stroller will help us to navigate our community safely and comfortably with JoyAnna.

She can walk, but she lacks safety awareness and will wander.

She also will drop to the ground and refuse to get up when she is in an unfamiliar place, when she doesn’t want to go somewhere, or when she doesn’t know the routine.

Additionally, JoyAnna has low muscle tone and gets tired after prolonged walking, so this stroller will help JoyAnna and our family enjoy settings like amusement parks, malls, community events, and unfamiliar places/activities of daily living!

Having an adaptive bike will give JoyAnna independence, exercise, and improve her coordination, as well as give her a new form of FUN that she has never been able to experience before…

She will be able to ride a bike like she sees the other children her age do. She has low muscle tone and poor balance, decreased core strength, and truly needs the support of an adaptive bike.

This bike will give her such a sense of accomplishment, motivation, and just plain JOY!”

As always, Variety’s work is truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

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.