Most Incredible Variety Video EVER!

This might be our most incredible video ever highlighting the impact of Variety’s “My Bike” and “My Voice” Programs.

Once again, Variety was given the opportunity to speak to hundreds of labor leaders from around Pennsylvania this week. These labor leaders were deeply moved by the video (video above) and committed to doing even more for Variety. Plus, we were presented with a $3,000 check to sponsor another bike and device!

The experience was especially meaningful for USW District 10 Director, Bobby “Mac” McAuliffe, who rode an adaptive bike into the conference to great celebration by everyone in attendance (photo above). It was great for the attendees to see the USW Director for Pa. ride an adaptive bike and to realize how important the bike would be if it was their child or grandchild.

We are overwhelmed with gratitude by the support, commitment, and time that has been given to Variety and our kids, but we know how much more is still needed. Let’s keep things rolling forward, together!

34 More Kids Are Finding Possibilities!

34 More Kids Received Life-Changing Equipment. Something that will help them find greater possibilities for their own lives!

Connor, age 8 is pictured above with excitement on his new RED adaptive bike!

“Connor would love to go bike riding with his two brothers in the neighborhood. This bike will make him feel like a normal boy who has his own bike. He also received an adaptive stroller from Variety, and it has made life a lot easier. We can go anywhere, and Connor doesn’t feel uncomfortable like he does in his wheelchair because people point and stare.” -said Debra, Connor’s grandmother


This past Wednesday, July 25th, Variety presented 34 more pieces of adaptive equipment to kids with disabilities at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall hosted by Blackburn’s.

These children (like Connor) now have an opportunity to discover EVEN MORE possibilities for their lives, and be a kid, first and foremost.

Ryan, age 17 received an adaptive stroller and communication device on Wednesday.

Ryan is pictured above left with his best friend Jacob a Variety Ambassador. Ryan shakes Jacob’s hand in joyful surprise that he’s in attendance at the presentation.

It was a surprise for Ryan to see his best friend, Jacob at Wednesday’s presentation, but the two couldn’t have been more excited. They both play for the Mighty Pens sled hockey team, and Jacob has been volunteering his time as an Ambassador to Variety to help impact more kids.

Ryan’s mom, Sue described what this equipment would mean by saying,

“With this stroller, Ryan can go out with his siblings without mom, or with extended family or friends who don’t have an adaptive van to transport his wheelchair. He’s going to be 18 soon and he wants that. The device will also make a huge difference. Our family has gotten very good over the years with understanding him, but Ryan can now tell us why he’s feeling the way he is or be able to ask us questions. There was no way before for him to do that.”

To make the day even more special, Ryan used his new communication device immediately on Wednesday to talk to his best friend, Jacob.

You can watch what Ryan had to say by clicking here.

Here’s to even more smiles and possibilities rolling on through the summer months!

   

Giggles, Gowns, & Great Fun for Reagan!

Reagan, age 10 received her 2nd adaptive bike at Variety’s 2018 Golf Invitational on Monday, June 4th, and she’s pictured “all thumbs up” in the photo below. Previously, she received an adaptive stroller and communication device through Variety.

Reagan is giving “thumbs up” on her new bike!

Recently, we received an update from Reagan’s mom, Kim, who really put into perspective the impact and experiences that Variety’s equipment are providing to our kids and their entire family.

Kim wrote,

“I wanted to drop you a note to share 2 exciting things with you…

  1. Reagan got on her new, blue bike the day after the presentation and rode with her sister for a LONG time and giggled the whole time. Her sister would ride down the road and then turn around and ride toward her and they would high five each other in passing. Reagan found that hilarious! What a wonderful experience for sisters to have that is ALL because of this adaptive bike program and the wonderful staff at Variety!! Her grandparents just moved to a new house with a great alley that is quiet and great for riding with all 4 of her cousins this Summer.

  2. Reagan competed in her 1st pageant for children with special needs. There were 8 contestants (group photo below). She modeled a gown and blew kisses to the crowd, performed a dance number to “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift, and answered questions on stage USING HER COMMUNICATION DEVICE!!!  She answered basic info about herself AND answered questions about what she would do this Summer!!”
Reagan shows off her device at the pageant.

Kim’s e-mail grounds us in why we do what we do every day for these amazing kids- giving kids like Reagan a chance to giggle with her sister, wear a gown and showcase her voice in a beauty pageant, and look forward to a summer of fun – just like any other child.

Reagan poses with the other contestants from the pageant.

Monday Motivation: Parade at IU8

MONDAY MOTIVATION: Last Friday, May 11th, 18 kids with disabilities received an adaptive bike, adaptive stroller, and/or communication device through Variety’s programs at Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8! Here’s a glimpse at our PARADE!

Janessa Shared Her “New Voice” Before 15 Kids Received Equipment!

On Friday, March 23rd, Variety presented life-changing equipment at the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) to 15 local kids with disabilities with each piece individually tailored to meet their needs.

Prior to our presentation, Janessa, age 11 kicked things off by demonstrating how she uses her communication device – her new voice – that she received from Variety last November.

Janessa is pictured with her mom and Variety’s CEO.

Since receiving her device, Janessa has been featured in two television spots through Highmark’s Living Proof campaign, one in which she uses her device to talk with her doctor for the first time, and then another to order food at a restaurant for the first time.

One of the most meaningful moments of the event was hearing Janessa’s mom, Julie update us on the progress and impact that has taken place for Janessa, and ultimately, her entire family since receiving her device (her new voice) – click below.

To give you even more to smile about, thanks to Janessa, three of her classmates received communication devices as well, including Ryan, age 9, who was more than a little excited.

Ryan is pictured above with his mom holding his new voice!

His mother, Monique gave voice to how life-changing this device would be by saying,

“Ryan’s greatest ability is his love of reaching out to people and attempting to communicate his wants and needs. He often launches into very long and animated stories complete with hand gestures and big laughs. Unfortunately, his educators, classmates, and many loved ones cannot understand him because they are his own made up words and not real words.

Ryan’s life would improve exponentially with a communication device. As a parent, its heartbreaking to see this deficit. We truly believe a communication device along with hard work on our part, Ryan’s enthusiasm and this device could change his entire social, educational, and emotional lifestyle.”

The March 23rd presentation also featured a terrific “equipment parade” with cheers of celebration that I’m sure you’ll enjoy – click here to watch for yourself.

“No Child Without A Voice” Campaign

On Tuesday, August 22nd, Variety – the Children’s Charity and Edgar Snyder & Associates held a Press Conference to launch the “No Child Without A VoiceCampaign, and to publicly unveil ESA’s newest television spot featuring Variety’s “My Voice” Program!

Tyler and his family are pictured above with Variety CEO, Charlie LaVallee while filming for the newest Edgar Snyder & Associates’ tv spot.

This campaign kicks off the 2017 school year to identify every eligible child that could benefit from Variety’s “My Voice” Program.

Why is “My Voice” important? Imagine spending months trying to figure out why your daughter is crying every night to learn that there was something stuck in her ear. Imagine spending hours in the supermarket with your child to figure what they want to eat. Imagine never hearing your son or daughter say, “I love you.” These are the types of comments that parents have told us.

Variety’s “My Voice” is helping to unlock the wants, needs, feelings, and thoughts that our kids have inside, but don’t have a way to say them on their own.

Charles LaVallee, Variety CEO, highlighted the importance of the campaign by saying, This isn’t just about providing equipment. This is about building a movement to get society to recognize that these kids deserve the opportunity to communicate. That’s why we’re so fortunate to have our partnership with Edgar Snyder & Associates, and them bringing awareness to this unmet need.”

Edgar Snyder & Associates has been partnering with Variety for nearly 5 years to help raise funds and identify eligible children that could benefit from its programs. Attorney Edgar Snyder said, “Our law firm has long been a supporter of Variety – the Children’s Charity and its programs for children with disabilities. We see how adaptive equipment like bicycles and strollers has changed the lives of children and their families throughout western Pennsylvania. Now we want to help get the word out about Variety’s newest program, “My Voice”, to help as many kids as we can.”

Another long-term partner of Variety has been the United Steelworkers. Tom Conway, Vice President Administration, USW shared, “USW is honored to have sponsored 25 communication devices and we are participating in the identification campaign among our own members, as well as the broader community.”

The Press Conference was all about providing these extraordinary kids, with amazing possibilities. About giving kids a voice to express their choices, personality, feelings, and needs.

LaVallee went further to say, “Variety is excited to have partners like Edgar Snyder & Associates and USW come together to help these kids who are often unseen. We are committed to identifying every single eligible child, so that no child is without a voice of their own.”

Thanks to Sarah Arbogast (KDKA) for joining us at yesterday’s event with Edgar Snyder & Associates! http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2017/08/22/technology-giving-children-disabilities-voice/

Regional Bartender Championship Gives Back!

On Wednesday, August 16th, TGI Fridays brought in their top eight bartender finalists to flip, shake and pour in front of four judges as they battled with their mixology skills for the regional title – all to raise funds for kids with disabilities! This year’s event was held at the TGI Fridays in the Waterfront.

Four of the bartender finalists are pictured above in their Variety t-shirts prior to the championship.

Competitors included bartenders from all across the Greater Pittsburgh area, and were slated to create four Fridays cocktails to be tested and then auctioned off to the crowd! All proceeds from the raffles and auctions benefited Variety — The Children’s Charity of Greater Pittsburgh

In total, nearly $1,500 was raised for Variety kids, and we couldn’t be more grateful for it!

Westmoreland County Commissioners Host Special Presentation

County Commissioner Gina Cerilli laughs with Lacie Carl, 10, of Penn Township during an event with Variety, the Children’s Charity – where children received specialized iPads and adaptive bikes at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the Westmoreland County neighborhood, as Variety presented a number of adaptive bikes / adaptive strollers, as well as 10 communication devices with the Westmoreland County Commissioners!

Madelyn DePhillips, 4, of Irwin shows her bear to Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas during an event sponsored by Variety, the Children’s Charity at the county courthouse in Greensburg. Madelyn received an iPad with software that will help her communicate with her parents.

We were thankful to have TribLive Westmoreland join us to capture the day & help us, help more kids! Check out the piece by clicking this link:  http://triblive.com/…/12546040-74/charity-gives-kids-a-voice

County Commissioner Charles Anderson pushes Seth Fiedor, 13, of Arnold on his new adaptive bike outside the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Seth received the bike from Variety, the Children’s Charity.

Case’s New Voice

Case is pictured above trying out his new device at the presentation.

Case’s mom, Elizabeth told us, “This device will give Case a voice that is clear and understandable to everyone, and we are so grateful.”

Immediately after receiving his device, Case used it to order for himself at Applebee’s!

Case is ready to use his new voice.

Variety’s “My Voice” Program is helping our extraordinary kids share their thoughts, feelings, needs, and even personalities, and it is incredible!

Special Presentation w/ Leo Gerard at USW

On Tuesday, June 6th, Variety had an incredibly exciting morning at the United Steelworkers International headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh!

Leo Gerard, USW International President and USW had sponsored 10 communication devices recently, and we started our identification efforts right away to all USW members. On Tuesday, Leo and Variety CEO, Charlie LaVallee presented the first two communication devices to children of USW members. This special presentation was made even more extraordinary as Leo invited about 80 USW members to the lobby of the building to share in the joy of these kids receiving their new devices.

One of the two kids to receive his very own voice was Tyler, age 5, who immediately began using the device at the event. Tyler’s mom, Jen just sent this message to us today:

“We just wanted to thank all of you again so much for yesterday!!! Tyler has not put it down since he got it. He is so happy to have his new device. He was able to type out a sentence and tell us exactly what he wanted for lunch. He’s so proud of himself and loves being able to show us what he needs!!! He has had the biggest smile and has been showing it to everyone he sees! We appreciate everything so much more than you will ever know!”

Tyler is all smiles with his new communication device above, which he used to say what he wanted to eat and drink!

Additionally, Tyler’s grandmother, Colleen wrote to us last night, saying, “Our family is so appreciative of what your organization has done for Tyler. It was a very impressive presentation and having the employees watch was awesome. He has put it around his neck when he walks and is so proud of it. He has been spelling words and practicing what he wants to say. We are forever grateful for giving Tyler a voice.”

Check out this news article that appeared on the USW International website!

Lastly, Leo’s words regarding the communication device had a simple, but significant impact. He said, “I don’t view it as a cost, I view it as an investment.” Variety sincerely thanks Leo and all of USW for their support, commitment, and passion to change the lives of children with disabilities.