Liam’s Summer Adventures w/ Adaptive Stroller!

“I wanted to make sure that we shared how absolutely life-changing Liam’s adaptive stroller has been for our family, and I wanted to share photos from our adventures this summer!

The stroller has opened up opportunities for us that I hadn’t even anticipated… We have been able to go on outings as family and feel secure in the fact that Liam is safe and comfortable.

We are now able to eat at restaurants as a family, go on walks as a family, and Liam EVEN went fishing for the first time in his life because of his stroller!

Most people don’t consider the isolation that special needs families go through, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for improving not only Liam’s life, but mine too.

From Liam and our entire family, we thank you!!”

KDKA News Highlights Elopement & Impact of Stroller

In terms of having an immediate impact on a child’s life, and the lives of their whole family, an adaptive stroller has been critical, especially for kids with elopement issues.

However, the need for this equipment, as well as the impact it can have are invisible to the majority of us – e.g. this isn’t your typical toddler stroller.

Don’t miss this transformative news story by KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen that features Kristin, mother of Kolton, who intimately shares the impact of an adaptive stroller with us all.

Pittsburgh-area family credits charity with life-changing device – click the link to watch and share.

The story also features Dr. Alan Kohrt, former Board Member, American Academy of Pediatrics, who provided striking data and expertise on kids with elopement issues (see below).

Thank you for being a part of the Variety community, where IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

P.S. You can help us spread the word that My Stroller exists by sharing this story with your network – https://www.cbsnews.com/pittsburgh/news/variety-the-childrens-charity-pittsburgh-life-changing-devices/

Joey Experienced Fall w/ Adaptive Stroller

Amanda recently detailed how her son’s adaptive stroller ensured that Joey didn’t miss out on experiencing his favorite time of the year, the FALL!

Amanda began by explaining some of the heart break along Joey’s journey, but the ending is truly all smiles for their whole family – don’t miss reading to the end.

We’re so grateful to Amanda, who shared with us,

Halloween, or maybe just everything ‘Fall’ related, has always been Joey’s favorite time of the year!

He loves the pumpkin patch, corn mazes, apple picking, leaf covered trails, etc.

However, Joey was diagnosed with brain cancer at 5, and his life -saving treatments affected his ability to walk.

Although, he is making great strides with rehabilitation, it’s a very long journey and Joey continues to remain wheelchair-bound at 7 years old.

We tried a simple pumpkin patch last year, with Mom bearing the brunt of the piggy back rides! Fortunately for Joey, he continues to grow as a normal child would. Unfortunately for mom, Joey is heavy!!

Honestly, I didn’t think we would ever be able to navigate Joey’s favorite season/holiday again.

Fall Festivals, especially in hilly Western PA, just aren’t wheelchair friendly beyond the farmer markets…..

We cannot thank you enough for Joey’s stroller that he received in August!

We’ve been to fields, on gravel, and even walked to the local pond with his class.

Today, we ventured to a Fall Festival!!”

Joey’s mom further explained why an adaptive stroller impacts their entire family, by saying,

“Joey’s adaptive stroller helps us navigate terrain that is more difficult for his wheelchair. It allows Joey to attend his brother’s sporting events easier, since many soccer fields are difficult for wheelchairs.

In addition, the stroller helps his grandparents take him places, since the stroller is easier for lifting into their vehicles, and it can fit!

The stroller also helps Joey’s older brother navigate Joey to fun places and not always have to rely on mom and dad to do the pushing!”

With more than 100 applications in-process for kids that need their own adaptive stroller, your support has never been greater for this program.

Embracing Their Struggles & Providing HOPE

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.

Jolie shared,

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.”

“My son elopes all the time…”

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!!

Make Your Day Brighter

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

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

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

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

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!

little things are the big things

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.

A Great Week for KIDS!

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!

In partnership with BLaST Intermediate Unit 17 and The Pennsylvania College of Technology, we saw a lot of smiles last Tuesday in Williamsport, Pa. – including RYLEIGH!

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:

Thanks for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

Program Updates & Some Good News!

We’re thrilled to share our updated program handout and program application for 2023 that include increased income guidelines!

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!!

Family Experiences Are Now Possible

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!

Click the image above to watch Matteo riding his bike!