Spring Kicks Off for 30+ Kids!

April has been one exciting month for us with three presentations impacting more than 30 kids from 10 counties!

On Wednesday, April 5th, Variety presented equipment with the Cambria County Commissioners and AFSCME (who sponsored one adaptive bike during the presentation).

The kids are pictured above on their new adaptive bikes / adaptive strollers with Cambria Co. Commissioner President Tom Chernisky, who led the parade on a bike.

On Tuesday, April 11th, Variety presented equipment with the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV and their staff!

Bobby is pictured above on his new green bike with his parents and MIU IV Executive Director, Dr. Wayde Killmeyer.

On Thursday, April 13th, Variety presented equipment with AHN’s Allegheny General Hospital and more than 100 members of their staff. During the event, we were presented with a check by Dr. George Gabriel the AGH Medical Staff to sponsor an adaptive bike for Kody (seen below).

Kody is all smiles on his new bike with AGH’s Duke Rupert and Dr. George Gabriel, his twin sister Krissy, and parents Kim and Chad.

Tracey Shea-Derby, mother of Tyler, a child who was given an adaptive bike (at AGH), explained the importance of the day: “It means having a chance to be included as well as providing an opportunity for others to see what he can do instead of what he can’t.”

Variety is still seeking to identify every single eligible child that could benefit from an adaptive bike, adaptive stroller, and / or a communication device. Any help in spreading the word in your local community would be incredible!

It Made My Heart Smile…

On August 31, 2016, Variety presented 12 adaptive bikes, 13 adaptive strollers, and 10 communication devices at Jefferson Hospital with its CEO, Louise Urban!

Gage is all smiles on his new adaptive bike!

Gage, age 16 (pictured above) received an adaptive bike that day, and to say he was excited would be an understatement. What was so meaningful to me were the words of his mother, Tracy, who reminded me how much impact we are having on kids like Gage, and his entire family.

Tracy told us,

Gage is working with only one lung in addition to cardiopulmonary stenosis, epilepsy, snow flake cataracts in both eyes, hearing issues, walking issues, and global delays.

But Gage is SO excited about this bike. He has all these plans for who he is going to ride bikes with now. Before, as the other kids would be out riding their bikes, Gage would only feel comfortable on a big wheel, but he simply couldn’t keep up with them.

When we went to get him fitted for the bike, he was truly excited about riding a big boy bike, and he felt safe / comfortable riding it, which made me all teary eyed.

It made my heart smile to watch him accomplish another milestone. 

This program is important to so many families who are less fortunate, have mentally, medically, or physically challenges loved ones. ‘My Bike’ is making a difference in this world, one children and family at a time… giving hope, building confidence, encouraging independence, and providing self-esteem because of your generosity.”

Additionally, Variety presented 5 adaptive bikes, 1 adaptive stroller, and 1 communication device at Allegheny General Hospital on August 26, 2016 with its COO, Duke Rupert.

Cecelia is sitting on her new pink bike with her sister ready to steer her from behind.

Cecelia, age 6 (pictured above) not only received an adaptive bike, which she could now ride alongside her sisters, but she received a communication device as well. Her mother, Briene shared how important this device would be by saying,

My daughter has intractable epilepsy, Fragile X Syndrome and Global Developmental Delay, which have caused her to not be able to speak.

Cecelia is a very intelligent child and her receptive skills are amazing. She simply can’t express what she needs or feels through words.

She tries very hard to say words, but those who do not spend every day with her have a hard time understanding.

Cecelia learns quickly and easily, so I feel the use of an iPad as a communication device will help her at school and at home. It will give my Cecelia a voice and allow her to succeed in her life without frustration.”

Let these two beautiful stories be a small reminder of the life-changing impact that we are creating together for kids in our community. 

Adaptive Bike Helps Katelyn Ride Again

A story to make you SMILE.

On February 15, 2017, Variety partnered with Pioneer Education Center to present adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and communication devices to more than 15 kids! It was a morning of fun, freedom, and communication, as Variety gave these children an opportunity to discover new possibilities for their own lives.

Katelyn, age 11 received her lime-green adaptive bike. Her mom, Renee gave voice to what this gift meant,

Katelyn is all smiles above on her new lime green bike!

This past year and a half have been quite challenging for Katelyn with a new diagnosis, a “hip fusion”, and battling severe infection… she lost the ability to do many activities she once enjoyed doing, like riding a bike.

Now that she has recovered enough to start trying activities again, this bike is coming at the most opportune time!

It will help strengthen her legs, be more active, and, hopefully by the spring time, she will get to ride bikes with her brother and best friend, who also received an adaptive bike from Variety!

We cannot express to you how grateful we are, and we hope this is the first step in Katelyn gaining some independence she has lost, as well as it being a really cool and fun way to ride a bike!”

You can watch the parade of bikes and strollers (including cheers from attendees) by clicking this link.

Additionally, it was thrilling to watch as Camden, age 4 received his new communication device, and then instantly started using it. This device became his voice, Wednesday! 

Camden is pictured showing off his new device with his mom and grandmother!

 

During the presentation, Camden immediately began using his new device – his new voice!

 

“This Bike Represents Freedom”

Last year, Evan received an adaptive bike through Variety’s “My Bike” Program.

Amy, mother of Evan helped us truly understand what “freedom” meant for her son (and so many other children just like him) by saying…

Evan rides his bike for the first time, as his dad guides him from behind.

“I think above all else, this bike represents freedom for Evan.

Freedom on many levels. Freedom to be just like any other ten year old boy on a bike. But also freedom to be in control of himself – which does not happen very often for Evan. Freedom from being completely dependent on others. Freedom to go where he wants (within reason of course) as fast or as slow as he wants.

Most of Evan’s life, he is dependent on others for every element of his life – not when he is on the bike though! When he is on the bike, he is free from therapists, adults, parents, and teachers telling him what he can and cannot do.

Long term, I hope this bike helps Evan realize that he is his own person and has the ability to make his own decisions and way in life.”

We are thankful to everyone who continues to help us, help kids like Evan find freedom in their lives. We could not do it without your support, time, and outreach.

It has an immediate impact.

An adaptive stroller has an immediate impact for families, it is a basic and fundamental need for getting around, and it allows kids with disabilities to be mobile in ways they could not before.

Destiny can’t hold back her excitement as she tries out her new adaptive stroller!

Destiny received her new adaptive stroller through Variety’s “My Stroller” Program, and as you can see, she was all smiles!

For Destiny (and so many children like her), this stroller will be her primary method of mobility on a daily basis. Her mother, Stephanie explained that she will be applying for a power wheelchair, but it will need to be kept at school because they do not have a vehicle to transport it. Destiny also has an older stroller, but it needs to be repaired.

“This new stroller will be her only method of getting around,” said Stephanie.

The smile on her face says it all.

At Variety, we could not accomplish these moments without the support and time of so many people throughout the community, and we thank you!

“Their Personality is Shining!”

Dylan poses with his new device – his new voice!

This week, we received a very special note from Dylan’s Speech Language Pathologist, Sharon, who has helped many kids receive their very own communication device through Variety’s “My Voice” Program.

Here’s what she wrote,

“Thank you again for all that you’re doing for the students here in our building. They are interacting with peers / staff, demonstrating progress towards academics, and their personality is shining!

Specifically, Dylan, who just received his iPad, is our student of the month for using the device purposefully, showing responsibility, and peer tutoring another student with the same iPad / communication app.”

Above is a screenshot of Proloquo2go, the communication app that Dylan uses on his communication device – it gives him a voice at all times.

It’s exciting to hear about the progress and impact being created for kids through using their own communication device. We are all SO thankful to Sharon, and the many, many other individuals that help us to identify eligible kids throughout our communities!

A Year of Possibilities for 444 Children!

This past year, Variety was able to impact 444 children with their very own adaptive bike, adaptive stroller, or communication device, and we could not have done it without our amazing community of partners, helpers, and advocates!

For these 444 kids, this past year meant…

The opportunity to feel free and happy through their own bike…

Gage is pictured on his new adaptive bike that received this past year through Variety’s “My Bike” Program!

“Gage is so excited about this bike. It made my heart smile to watch him accomplish another milestone. ‘My Bike’ is important to so many families who are less fortunate and have mentally, medically, or physically challenged love ones. This program is making a difference in the world, one child and family at a time… giving hope, building confidence, encouraging independence, and providing self-esteem.” -Tracy, mother of Gage

The ability to be “on-the-go” & not be isolated or left out…

Jeorge is pictured with his parents in his new comfy adaptive stroller that he received this past year through Variety’s “My Stroller” Program!

“The wheelchair is really heavy and takes two people to get it in and out of our van. During family outings, like Idlewild, it was always so hard to get him involved. It means everything to us to have this stroller – to participate as a family in outings in the community.” -Lacey, mother of Jeorge

And the chance to have a voice, & express their wants & needs.

Allysha is pictured with her mom showing off her new communication device – her new voice – that she got this past year through Variety’s “My Voice” Program!

“It hurts me so much that she can’t talk to me. They have a device for her in school, but it doesn’t come home, so I don’t understand her, and she gets so upset and sad about it.  I want her to know that I love her just as much as her sisters and everyone else… and she can tell me anything.  That would mean the world to me.” -Kristyn, mother of Allysha

With your help, we can impact even more kids with disabilities!

There are two ways you can help this giving season:

  1. Make a donation of any amount to help us provide more adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, or communication devices to kids that are in need. All donations will go directly to the kids, and are 100% tax deductible. Download our donation form by clicking here, or give online at www.varietypittsburgh.org/donate
  2. Spread the word to everyone you know about our three equipment programs. One of our biggest challenges at Variety is identifying eligible kids. With your help, we hope to start a movement this new year, so that no eligible child misses out on these life-changing opportunities! Click here to download our program handout, and please share it at home, at work, and everywhere you go in the community.

At Variety, we are a family, and our work is not possible without each and every one of you. Thank you! 

Noah’s Mom Has High Hopes…

Variety Mom has high hopes for her son’s adaptive stroller!

Many have asked us, what exactly is an adaptive stroller? 

Above is an example of a Kid Kart Might Lite adaptive stroller – each one is customized for every child.

An adaptive stroller is not your typical infant stroller. Rather, it is an individually customized piece of equipment that gives “on-the-go” mobility, and an easier way to participate in daily activities.

Noah was recently approved for his adaptive stroller through Variety’s “My Stroller” Program, and his mom gave us some insight on what this meant,

Noah’s smile say it all as he sits in his new adaptive stroller!

“As Noah’s mom, I am SO happy to hear that he will be receiving an adaptive stroller… I am almost in tears. 

Without an adaptive stroller, we are completely cut off from leaving our home. His old stroller that we purchased second hand (more than 10 years ago) is missing a leg rest, doesn’t have harnesses, and is just unsafe due to him outgrowing it. 

I’m a single mom, and taking him to all of his doctor appointments is extremely difficult without a stroller. Noah will now be able to go for walks in our neighborhood again with a safe mode of transportation! 

We have literally opted out of attending family cookouts and events because we need a new stroller. Thank you and all those that support your organization from the bottom of our hearts!! 

Yours truly, Mara and Noah”

Bases, Bikes, & Beauty in West Virginia!

Bikes, Bases, & Beauty – A Special Evening In Morgantown, West Virginia!

Aubrey is all smiles as her mom, Kellie helps her maneuver from behind on the Black Bears’ field!

On August 30th, Variety – the Children’s Charity had the opportunity to present 3 adaptive bikes to children from West Virginia at the Monongalia County Ballpark! This special presentation was made possible in partnership with the WV Black Bears and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia, who helped to sponsor the bikes.

Madison waves to the camera, as a Black Bears’ players steers her across the field!

From the smiles on the kids’ faces, to the thrill / experience of them riding their bikes for the first time around the bases, to getting to personally meet the baseball players… this was certainly a night to remember for these three amazing kids and their entire family!

All three kids, their families, and others gather for a group photo – holding a check from Highmark West Virginia that went towards Variety’s “My Bike” Program!

We could not be more grateful to all those who help us, help these extraordinary children find freedom, joy, and belonging through their very own bike.

“My BIke” Kickoff in West Virginia

It was a day of pure joy on April 4, 2014, as U.S. Senator Joe Manchin joined Variety – the Children’s Charity and Robert Kozel, CEO, Mountaineer Keystone LLC (now Arsenal Resources) to kick off Variety’s “My Bike” Program in West Virginia and also present 27 adaptive bikes to children in West Virginia.

Stephanie, mother of Isabella, explained how this bike would impact her daughter by saying,

This bike will give Isabella opportunity, as she is a very independent little girl and always wants to do new things. We are all very excited about the possibilities this bike will create.”

Pictured is Wyatt and Isabella at the kickoff event.

The launch of “My Bike” in West Virginia is significant because it will not only change the lives of children with disabilities and their families in West Virginia, but also further demonstrate that Variety’s “My Bike” Program in Western Pennsylvania is a model that can be replicated throughout the nation.

This one-of-a-kind program will provide some of our children in West Virginia living with disabilities the experience of riding a bike,” Senator Manchin said during the April 4th kick off. “The joy they will have when riding their new bikes is priceless. I am incredibly thankful to Variety the Children’s Charity for bringing this project to our state.”

Pictured left is Senator Manchin, Robert Kozel, Wyatt, and his mother at the April 4th kick off.

Mountaineer Keystone LLC (now Arsenal Resources) is the Founding Sponsor of Variety’s “My Bike” Program in West Virginia, and during the kick off event, Robert Kozel explained that this program is important to him personally, as it is to honor his aunt and godmother who lived with polio, which significantly impacted her mobility.

Mr. Kozel went further to announce that Mountaineer Keystone LLC (now Arsenal Resources) would sponsor one adaptive bike for every well drilled in West Virginia and that it is his hope that this commitment would spread to his peers.

West Virginia Founding Sponsor:

Previously Mountaineer Keystone LLC