It’s another reason to smile, as Maryn’s mom, Jolie explained the daily challenges their family faces, and the ways that Variety helped to make life better.
“People don’t see the struggles we go through on a daily basis to normalize life for our kids and get them out into the community… It is overwhelming and difficult.
For example, breaking down a large wheelchair is really tough. If you don’t have family around to help, it is even more difficult. And, no one understands.
Variety is a blessing and Maryn’s adaptive stroller makes such a difference!
Maryn also received a communication device, and now she has a voice!
Just now, she let us know with her device that she wanted something to drink, so we were able to get her a drink.
You can see the frustration and the meltdowns when Maryn can’t communicate, but this device truly gives her a voice.
The device helps us understand all these things that make her world go round. It takes so much stress off of not just Maryn, but the family as a whole.
Maryn has a twin sister, Amae, who also received an adaptive bike from Variety… your organization has been such a blessing for our family.”
Our work truly revolves around experiencing each family’s needs, fears, and daily challenges first-hand.
For instance, we often hear about kids that are “elopers” or runners, and have no awareness of their own safety or surroundings – forcing many families to be trapped inside their houses out of fear because they don’t have a way to keep their child safe.
We fully take in each family’s stories, and they are the real heroes in this work, but we are fortunate provide something tangible to help make life easier, like an adaptive stroller!
Recent recipient Declan is pictured above in his new adaptive stroller, and to fully take in how much the equipment means, please read what his mom, Petra shared,
“My son, Declan, is 5 years old and has a tendency to elope all the time, and it is very hard to keep him contained.
He likes to run off and keep running.
He has even escaped our home before, and we now have to keep a clamshell on all the outside door knobs.
When we are out and about, he walks with me while I hold his hands, but he still often runs off very quickly.
It has often been hard to go on walks, especially in places with heavy traffic or lots of people.
He’s too big for any typical stroller, so I’ve been searching for some type of stroller that fits him and can keep him safe/comfortable.
His therapist introduced me the My Stroller Program, and I thought… how perfect this equipment will be.”
With Declan’s new adaptive stroller, he will be able to go anywhere in the community and be safe!!
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!
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!
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!
Jayla’s smile “says it all”, but her mom, Stephanie explains how their lives were truly changed by Variety’s programs.
Last week, Jayla received her new adaptive stroller, and later that night, her mom, Stephanie shared,
“First, I want to thank you again for all your charity has done for my daughter and our family. It is a huge help for us, especially as a one income family just making ends meet. The help you have given us is beyond measure and words.
Both the communication device and adaptive stroller you provided for my daughter are items we would not be able to afford for her and they are incredibly vital to her growth, development and comfort.
Because she has a rare genetic syndrome that many haven’t heard of and research is lacking in, we have a lot of difficulties navigating care tailored for her.
Jayla’s condition causes her to fall a lot, and her body weakens after just a little bit of activity, even a walk. We haven’t been able to go places that require walking because she needs to be carried and that is no easy feat.
This stroller opens up so many things for her – trips to the mall, walks through Target, family walks in the park, and even walks through our neighborhood, which we had to stop when her disability got worse.
Additionally, the communication device was not only a savior for us when she received it in 2020, but the whole process was fast, especially during a pandemic!
Your programs work, they’re needed, and are so appreciated. Jayla’s smile and happiness says it all, but the teddy bear was also a huge hit!”
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!
Adaptive bikes and strollers are so much more than a piece of equipment, as Heidi and Irene both describe for us below.
Zeyke received his second adaptive bike over the summer, and his grandmother, Heidi explained how critical it has been, especially the last few years. She shared,
“Zeyke first received his bike from Variety in June 2019, and he was very excited about his new-found freedom!
Upon receiving the bike, it changed his world. I could finally take him for walks, and he also got exercise doing it, and he quickly wanted to go for multiple walks every day to ride his bike!
It took almost a full year, but by May of 2020, he took off on his own and pedaling on his own! The smiles on his face and mine were priceless the first time he did it! He has not lost any interest in the bike and continues to go on bike rides every day.
I do not know what I would have done throughout the pandemic without his bike… It truly gave us many ways to get out of the house and stay safe, and Zeyke has probably ridden the bike hundreds of miles in these past three years! Thanks for all you do for our children!”
Teenager Jacqueline is pictured below in her new adaptive stroller – looking especially comfy.
Her mom, Irene explained simply why the stroller would have an immediate impact, by saying, “Over the years, Jacqueline has lost the ability to walk independently, and it’s gotten really hard to go places as a family… something we really enjoy. This stroller will help Jackie be able to go out more and be more comfortable alongside our family.”