A Life-Changing Partnership!
We are thrilled to share this video that highlights our newly formed partnership with Z&M Harley-Davidson in Greensburg!
Travis (pictured below) was the first of many youngsters that will have their lives transformed by our partnership with Z&M, who have a goal of sponsoring 20 more pieces of equipment this year.
Before receiving his new bike, Travis’ mom, Kelly shared this with us,
“Z&M is the first place Travis met the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, and his dad, Ed bought a Harley there. So, it is an important place for him and getting his adaptive bike will make him feel special! With the adaptive bike, Travis will now have his own ‘set-of-wheels’ like his dad.
Travis will finally have the freedom to ride bikes alongside his little sister. This bike will give our whole family chances to spend more quality time together outdoors, so we’re all looking forward to it! The bike will make him feel free and special and in control.”
We were so grateful to the Latrobe Bulletin for capturing all the joy of this partnership in this article, so don’t miss reading it!
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!!
Variety Kids on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood!
With the greatest excitement, we wanted to share a recent episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids – featuring Variety kids Sam, Emily, and Sadie riding their adaptive bikes, and Sadie’s sister, Hadley on her two-wheeled bike.
Fred Rogers certainly would have loved seeing kids with special needs being included and riding their adaptive bikes for “the world” to celebrate.
Sam, Emily, Sadie, and Hadley are featured at the 11-minute mark of the episode, and you can watch it now by clicking this link!
Being on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood creates a multitude of visibility – not only by educating others on an adaptive bike, but by showing the world what these extraordinary kids can do.
We hope you’ll take a minute to share the episode with your networks, especially to celebrate Sam, Emily, Sadie, and Hadley!
Celebrating 10 Years of My Bike!
Today, we are celebrating TEN YEARS of Variety’s My Bike® Program, which officially kicked off on Monday, November 5, 2012 to simply provide adaptive bikes to kids with disabilities.
Through My Bike, kids who were being left out / excluded from this childhood milestone now get to experience the joy and freedom of riding a bike alongside siblings and friends.
Take a minute to experience the impact of an adaptive bike by watching Variety’s kids riding their bikes in the 2022 Labor Day Parade in Pittsburgh!
Since kicking off, we’ve presented more than 2,700 adaptive bikes (worth more than $4.8 million in equipment), which is a true testament to what can be achieved when we come together for the kids!
In celebration of this momentous anniversary, we have set a goal to sponsor another 100 adaptive bikes for 100 more kids.
If you have the means, I would grateful for your consideration to donate to My Bike today by giving online now or by mail with attached form.
It’s $1,800 to sponsor one bike for a child, but any amount makes a difference with nearly 150 applications are currently in-process for kids that need their own adaptive bike.
CBS National News Story Featuring My Voice
We reached another milestone last week with a CBS National News story that shined a spotlight on Variety’s My Voice® Program!
Please watch, share, and be inspired by this story broken into three parts:
- Part 1 – The Journey to My Voice Featuring Tyler: https://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/20220804184922-charity-gives-kids-a-voice-through-technology/#x
- Part 2 – My Voice Interview with KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen: https://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/20220804185255-expanding-the-my-voice-program-across-u-s/
- Part 3 – Interview with Sue, whose son, JJ received two communication devices through My Voice and myself: https://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/20220804174538-my-voice-program-trying-to-help-kids-in-need/#x
We are hopeful that this story will enable us to help even more kids in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as highlight that we’ve truly created a model that can be replicated throughout the nation (and even world).
A tremendous thanks to KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen, who not only made this extraordinary opportunity possible, but she also became a voice for the kids that still need a communication device.
My Voice is creating a life-changing impact for kids that are nonverbal (or have a communication disorder), and we’re so grateful for your support to make it happen!
Mia’s Own Voice | Plus, 300 Devices & Counting
While our Spring Tour continues to bring miles of smiles, our My Voice® Program has provided more than 300 communication devices in the last 7-months!
Last Thursday, WTAJ (based in Altoona) aired an incredible news story that gave an in depth look into 7-year-old Mia’s communication journey – going from no words, to a communication device, to speaking with her own voice!
Please take a moment to enjoy and share with others: www.wearecentralpa.com/news/local-news/communication-device-gives-huntingdon-county-girl-a-voice
We constantly hear from parents that My Voice is making a life-changing difference for kids and their families, and here are a few more reasons to smile.
8-year-old Jaxson recently received his new communication device (above), and his mom, Elizabeth described their hope, by saying,
“I believe this device will open up a whole new world of communication and socialization. It will help him grow his independence (which he will need someday), confidence, and happiness.
He has so much to say and I watch him struggle to tell someone what he wants or is thinking. Being able to join a conversation and responding is a dream – mine and his.”
Wilson’s excitement for his new communication device is out of this world (pictured above), and his mom, Kristine shared what it will mean, by saying,
“Wilson really only speaks in approximations. He does not say many words that are understandable to his teachers or family members who are not with him every day.
However, I know that Wilson knows a lot but has a hard time demonstrating his knowledge. A communication device will help him demonstrate to his teachers what he has learned and to indicate his needs to his family members.”
Lightning Strikes Twice!
Please don’t miss these two stories from KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen, who shares powerful updates on Tyler and Mia, and their communication journey.
- Watch Tyler’s Story: https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/04/04/kidsburgh-variety-communication-devices
- Watch Mia’s Story: https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/04/04/kidsburgh-variety-the-childrens-charity
What’s most extraordinary is that Mia AND Tyler have gone from no voice of their own, to speaking through a communication device, to now speaking with their OWN voices.
Unfortunately, this won’t be the case for every child that receives their own device, but by equipping them with a communication device to have 24/7, My Voice® is giving kids a chance at discovering their own possibilities.
The hard truth is that kids and youth are living without a voice all around us, and it’s a hidden problem to most of society. Imagine for a moment if your child or grandchild was unable to communicate their feelings, wants, or needs at home…
I am so grateful Kristine, who is not only a terrific news reporter, but she brings her own authenticity as a parent to create awareness for this critical issue.
Last month, we got another update from Owen’s mom, Larissa, who shared, “Owen is doing so well that he doesn’t need the device anymore! Right after we got it, we were able to integrate his communication device into our dinner conversation, but then his speech took off so fast and all in one leap, and we can now (finally) understand Owen without the aid of his communication device!”
We simply don’t know what these kids are capable of accomplishing until we give them the chance or the right equipment.
Take good care,
P.S. I hope you’ll share this news piece with your network of family, friends, and peers to bring even greater awareness to the communication needs of children and youth.
Charles P. LaVallee
Chief Executive Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity
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.
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!”