Reeve Foundation Gives Hope

Variety has been a proud recipient from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to help children with disabilities, specifically children living with paralysis.

Their support began in 2015 with a gift of $7,500 for adaptive bikes through Variety’s “My Bike” Program, and then more recently, Variety received a gift of $6,000 towards adaptive strollers through Variety’s “My Stroller” Program.

Between these two generous gifts, Variety was able to impact the lives of 9 children who now have increased mobility, freedom, and can live a full fulfilled life.

These are kids like Alaina, age 8, who was one of the 5 adaptive bikes sponsored by the Reeve Foundation.

Alaina is pictured above “all smiles” with her parents after receiving her new bike!

Alaina’s mother gave voice to the impact of this gift by saying, “We tried a traditional bike, but she was never successful. When we rode bikes as a family, she was confined to a child’s seat.”

Before receiving her adaptive bike, Alaina was often left out and left behind when her family would ride bikes together.  With her new adaptive bike, Alaina can ride alongside her family.

After watching her daughter ride, Christy said, “Now she can ride a bike with her brothers – just like a normal kid.”

The impact might seem simple, but to Alaina and her family, it is life-changing. These are milestones that every child should experience – riding bikes with friends, siblings, and just being able to have fun.

Variety is so grateful to the support of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to help us, help more kids.

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation logo.

Memorial Bike Ride on Sept. 30th!

Come join us for the Fourth Annual J. Terrence Farrell Memorial Bike Ride, which will beneift Variety’s “My Bike” Program.

When: Saturday, September 30, 2017
What Time: 8:30am – 12 Noon
Where: The ride starts under the Boston Bridge, with a 7.5 mile stop at the Dravo Cemetery in Buena Vista. Experienced riders may continue on Smithton Beach. All bikers will return at 12 Noon to the Kenneth Frew Pavilion for Lunch and a ceremony in honor of J. Terrence (Terry) Farrell.
Registration Fee: $25

You can register for the bike ride by clicking here.

A group form last year’s event are pictured above – what a beautiful day!

As a long-time member of the McKeesport Lions and local attorney, each year Mr. Farrell’s “Bike for Sight” raised thousands of dollars for local charities. The funds from last year’s event were distributed locally to the McKeesport Regional History and Heritage Center, the Carnegie Library of McKeesport, the Mon Yough Trail, the Mon River Fleet Lions Club, Friends of the Riverfront, Variety the Children’s Charity, and American Heart Association.

For questions regarding this year’s event, please contact Belinda O’Keson at (412) 678-7126 or via e-mail at okeson2210@comcast.net.

For updates on this annual event, please check out their Facebook Page.

Kids Helping Kids

In a matter of four days, the youngsters from the 2017 G-Force VBS at Kingsville United Methodist Church raised money to help Variety kids in the Clarion County area – a total of $375 was generated by 26 kids that participated in this summer’s program, which was then matched by the church!

The VBS group is pictured above, all smiles for the impact that they are able to make for more kids.

It is inspiring and amazing to see such young children want to give back to others that are in need. Because of these 26 kids, Variety received a donation of nearly $800, and it will be a big help to our work, especially for the kids of Clarion County.

We congratulate these extraordinary children for their hard work and commitment to giving back!

Bikes & Bases, Take Three!

For the third year in a row, Variety partnered with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Virginia and the West Virginia Black Bears to raise funds for Variety’s “My Bike” Program. All funds were raised through Highmark’s “K’s for Kids” program, which donates a generous gift to Variety each time a Black Bears pitcher strikes out an opposing batter during a home game.

The K’s for Kids program culminated this past Monday, August 28th at the Black Bears game against State College, in which Highmark presented Variety with a donation of $2,500 towards our “My Bike” Program.

Elijah is pictured above on his new bike with some of his new friends!

These funds sponsored Elijah’s new adaptive bike that was presented on Monday. He and two previous bike recipients, Riain and Aubrey, took a ride around the bases of the Monongalia County Ballpark prior to the game beginning.

Variety was joined by Mike Lentz and staff from PlayWorks, (who has been our biggest “My Bike” partner in West Virginia), and Jay Golden from Highmark WV to help cheer on the kids, especially Elijah as he took his very first bike ride.

Both WBOY-TV and The Dominion Post joined us to capture the special presentation.

Let’s hear it for these amazing kids!!

“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!

Silly Dance, Take Two!

It was a SILLY DANCE SEQUEL today at Conemaugh Health System with the Cambria County Commissioners, Variety Board Member Mickey Sgro, and  Giovanni, age 8, who received his adaptive bike!

Marcel’s Silly Dance

DO YOU, “SILLY DANCE” to express your joy?

Marcel, age 7, came to our presentation today at Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, and taught us how to silly-dance! Marcel received his adaptive bike from Variety last summer, and he wanted to come today to help more kids feel the joy he does when he’s on his bike.

CHECK OUT HIS SILLY DANCE

MEET TYLER, the boy with a voice who is helping more kids!

Tyler is pictured above using his device to ask his two sisters, “Will you play a game with me?”

A little over 8 weeks ago, Tyler, age 5 received his very own communication device (his own voice) through Variety’s “My Voice” Program, which was sponsored by the United Steelworkers and its International President, Leo Gerard.

Since then, Tyler has had a lot to say, and his device is giving him the opportunity to speak his mind anytime he chooses with his family and new friends throughout the community. What is so inspiring about this young boy is that he (and his family) are committed to doing all they can so that even more kids can gain the same life-changing device.

Tyler’s family joined us this past Tuesday, July 25th during a presentation with the Westmoreland County Commissioners, where Variety presented adaptive bikes and strollers, and then 10 communication devices to local kids. During the presentation of devices, Tyler got up and demonstrated how he uses his device (his voice) to communicate all his wants, needs, feelings, and even his favorite food (hotdogs) and game (Minecraft).

The Tribune Review (Westmoreland) joined us for the presentation and captured the impact of the day in this article (click here to read). There are also two amazing videos from the presentation included in the article that will allow you to share in the day’s joy!

Tyler demonstrates how he uses his “new voice” for attendees during the 7/25 presentation with his family surrounding him.

Additionally, KDKA-TV’s Kristen Sorensen spent the last two weeks working on a story that also featured Tyler to bring greater awareness to the needs of our kids and what is being done through Variety to give them a more fulfilling life. This piece will open you up to where Variety began in 2012 with adaptive bikes, and where we have been able to go since then to impact the lives of these extraordinary children.

You can watch the full segment by clicking here.

Variety is at a turning point and we need to keep the momentum going for these kids.

Nearly 5 years ago, Variety began with an idea to provide adaptive bikes to kids with disabilities through its “My Bike” Program, so they could experience the fun, freedom, and joy of riding bikes with friends / family, and to no longer be left out or left behind. Since then, Variety expanded into two more programs, “My Stroller” (adaptive strollers) and “My Voice” (communication devices) to meet the needs of easier mobility and a way of communicating on a daily basis.

“My Voice” is giving kids the chance to have a voice every day, all day through a communication device that’s helping to alleviate frustration for both our kids (who can’t get out what they want to say) and parents (who can’t always understand what their child is trying to say). These devices are helping children communicate when they are hurting, when they need to use the bathroom, or even that they would prefer a hotdog over a hamburger – going from the real serious things to the basics things of life.

Moms and dads are hearing their child say, “I love you” for the first time, and even though it is through a device, parents know that their child is intentionally choosing to say it.

No child should be without a voice… No child should be without a voice, and it is an unbelievable opportunity for us to give these children the fullness of life through being able to communicate.

My sincerest thanks to you and all those that are helping us to make these opportunities possible for kids that are too often unseen or overlooked. At Variety, we make it “all about the kids” and none of what we accomplish could be done without your support!

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.