A Note from Variety’s CEO, Charlie LaVallee.
When I first started at Variety in 2012, I had an idea to provide adaptive bikes to kids with disabilities because they were missing out on the childhood milestone of riding bikes with friends and family.
When we kicked off My Bike in November 2012, I did not know if we would get to 50 bikes sponsored, but we excitingly got more than 200 bikes sponsored by Christmas that year!
One of the early believers in this idea was Bernita Buncher and the Jack Buncher Foundation, who have been life-changing supporters to Variety’s vision over the years, and they have truly helped us to enable kids with disabilities to live life to the fullest, and truly be kids.
Not only did Bernita and the Foundation support My Bike, but they also really took the time to understand and recognize the needs of our kids and their families in terms of mobility and communication equipment.
Having recognized the need for adaptive strollers and communication devices, the Jack Buncher Foundation encouraged and supported Variety to launch its My Stroller and My Voice Programs in 2014.
As we celebrate the milestone of giving 4,000 kids an adaptive bike, adaptive stroller, and/or communication device, I cannot forget the recent passing of Bernita Buncher.
For it was her vision and commitment to the community that has helped to impact thousands of kids with disabilities at Variety.
Bernita had such a gentle and passionate spirit, and her openness to the kids and being changed by them was truly extraordinary to me. She inspired me personally to continue to do all that I could in my life to impact kids with disabilities.
As Bernita sought to carry on her father’s legacy of helping others, she truly created one of her own.
It was easy for me to see how much Bernita loved the kids, and nothing might show that better than when Cilla received her adaptive stroller at our 2015 Gala, where we also honored Bernita and the Jack Buncher Foundation.
Cilla just about leapt out of her stroller to throw her arms around Bernita’s neck, and thank her. This is a moment that will always stay with me because the pure joy between Bernita and Cilla was so genuine and beautiful.
Bernita’s enduring legacy will live on through her absolute commitment to kids with disabilities (as well as many other passions), but I think her legacy also shines through the joy that she received back from the children, and it is something that I will always treasure.
As we celebrate helping 4,000 kids and embark on reaching 5,000, I want to remember and honor Bernita Buncher because she truly helped us change kids’ lives and make life better for their families.
To me, Bernita showed us all the power of believing in something and acting on it.
Bernita helped so many in need, and for a lot her giving, she never wanted any recognition or acknowledgement – even though I wanted to celebrate her support from the mountain tops.
She simply wanted to help others and do good, and that knowledge was more than enough for her.
I sincerely give thanks to Bernita and the entire Jack Buncher Foundation for all that they have made possible for kids with disabilities.
Take good care,
Charles P. LaVallee
Chief Executive Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity