TODAY ON NOV. 13, 2020…
We were scheduled to have Variety’s Gala that celebrates and raises critical funds, but then the pandemic hit. Instead, we join so many others in celebrating World Kindness Day and WQED’s Cardigan Day WITH A SMILE FROM TRISTAN, who is filled with pure joy on his new adaptive bike!
Variety’s programs are not only spreading smiles, but life-changing impact. We’re helping children to be included and not left behind. We’re helping to give kids a voice to be themselves. We’re helping kids to freely go out into the community and participate. Variety is a helper, and we are asking for your help now.
Will you support our Partners in the Pandemic Campaign for kids with disabilities? This campaign will raise critical funds that Variety needs to keep changing the lives of children and their families, and truly, any amount will make a difference. You can read more about the campaign by clicking here, and/or you can give a donation right now by clicking here.
ONE YEAR AGO ON NOV. 13, 2019…
We were in Clearfield County, PA presenting adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and communication devices to kids like Vladimir (pictured below). Could his smile of pure joy get any better?
As Fred Rogers once said, “Anyone who does anything to help a child in this life is a hero to me.”
Please be our hero, support this campaign, and help us, help even more amazing kids!
Thank you so very much, Neighbor!
Some good news to bring a smile to your faces.
We partnered with the incredible teams at Covestro and Blackburn’s this past Tuesday to distribute 25 adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers to kids with disabilities!
I hope you’ll take a moment to share in the joy of the day by watching this 40-second piece by KDKA-TV – https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/10/28/adaptive-bicycle-charity-donation/.
CARTER’S NEW ADAPTIVE BIKE!
When 8-year old Carter was fit for an adaptive bike in September and trialed one, his mom Lisa shared, “After we got him at 5 months of age, we finally got a diagnosis of his condition and we were told that he would not walk or talk… Well, here he is today riding a bike!!! I’ve never seen him peddle before. This is awesome that he can do it, and now he will be able to go on bike rides with the family.”
Now, Carter is ready for ALL the family bike rides, memories, and fun!
LEVI’S NEW ADAPTIVE STROLLER!
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and for Levi’s family, they found a way to make it to Tuesday’s presentation from Wheeling, WV to receive Levi’s new adaptive stroller!
The stroller will help to keep Levi safe because he is an “escape artist”, as his dad, Harry mentioned at the presentation. When the family goes out into the community, they won’t have to worry about keeping Levi safe.
To describe it further, Levi’s mom, Kathy explained, “I’m unable to walk with Levi because of my health issues, but beyond that, no one else can either. He slips out of your hand in a blink of an eye and runs, FAST. He has already gotten out from our house.”
HANNAH’S NEW ADAPTIVE BIKE!
For 5-year old Hannah, an adaptive bike will let her experience something fun with her siblings! Her mom, Lisa put into words what this bike would mean, “Hannah has 3 siblings, and she loves to go outside with them. They ride bike and scooters with the other kids in the neighborhood, and Hannah would have so much fun if she could follow along and do the same!
She ends up frustrated when the bike won’t move for her, and when we try to push it, her feet get caught under the pedals, so an adaptive bike would be amazing for her!”
Stay tuned for more good news to come soon!
A MAJOR UPDATE ON MIA!
A few weeks ago, Mia’s mom, Anita shared this exciting update, “I wanted to check in and share some Mia progress, from a proud Mommy. In less than two years, Mia went from nonverbal to reading. We hope this gives you inspiration to keep doing what you’re doing because it all started with a device to give her language.”
DOES IT GET ANY BETTER?
Anita went even further to share a video of Mia showing off her reading skills, and we hope that you can take in how big this is for Mia and her family!
A BIG MOMENT FOR JAYLA!
Having a voice of her own is also a big deal for Jayla and her family. Before receiving her new communication device at the beginning of October, Jayla’s mom, Stephanie explained what it would mean, “This would make a huge impact on our family. We are a low income family with 4 kids, and my husband, who supports the household is a cancer patient currently in remission. We desperately need our little girl to have a voice to help her with the frustration and disappointment of not being understood. It would mean the world to us.”
Two weeks after Jayla received her new voice, Stephanie wrote to us on Facebook with the photos above and this update, “Thank you so much! Jayla is so excited to have her voice! She couldn’t wait to show her friends she can talk to them now!”
For Mia and Jayla, having a communication device is a really big deal. It gives them a voice and another tool in their toolbox to live life to the fullest.
Dear Variety Friends,
I write with an extraordinary update on our impact, and a hopeful ask for your support of Variety’s Partners in the Pandemic Campaign for Kids with Disabilities.
FIRST, OUR IMPACT UPDATE:
- Between October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020, we presented 786 pieces of adaptive equipment to kids with disabilities (worth $1.1 million) throughout 71 counties in PA and WV!
- Out of the 786, we presented 438 pieces of mobility equipment (adaptive bikes and strollers) and 348 communication devices!
- Out of the 786 presented, 504 pieces of equipment were presented during the pandemic.
This is officially our GREATEST year ever, and it’s our second year in a row presenting more than $1 million in equipment to kids!
NOW, A RARE ASK FOR SUPPORT:
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Variety must postpone its 2020 Gala, which provides us with critical funds where we need them the most (raising upwards of $250,000).
As a result, we are launching our Partners in the Pandemic Campaign for Kids with Disabilities to ensure that our work and impact does not falter or slow down, and to raise funds where we need them most.
With our goal of raising $250,000 by December 31st, any donation will make a difference, so I sincerely ask, will you be our Partner in the Pandemic?
- You can make a donation online now by clicking here (and designate your donation to Partners in the Pandemic), or you can mail your gift by check (see attachment).
- Every donor will be recognized on our website here.
- In addition, we will recognize larger donations in a variety of ways (see attachment). Could you approach your employer to make a donation or get us connected?
I’m hopeful that you’ll please consider becoming our Partner in the Pandemic, and give to where we need it most at Variety to keep our programs rolling.
Your donation will help us, help even more kids, and it will ensure that Variety’s work and mission never fades or ceases to exist. If you want to talk further, I would be delighted to setup a time to talk by phone or Zoom to provide even more updates on our life-changing work for kids with disabilities.
My sincerest thanks to you.
P.S. Check out this piece by JET24, who joined us this past Tuesday to present adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers in Edinboro – lots of smiles! https://www.yourerie.com/news/local-news/northwest-tri-county-intermediate-unit-and-the-childrens-charity-variety-team-up-to-provide-life-changing-equipment-to-kids-with-disabilities/
Charles P. LaVallee
Chief Executive Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity
A Pandemic Is Scary. Even Scarier Without A Voice.
The pandemic has caused a lot of changes, especially to the way Variety reaches eligible kids and distributes equipment. However, as soon as these changes needed to be implemented in March, we got to work and we haven’t stopped since, especially to provide kids with a voice.
I hope you can take a few moments to read some recent stories of how we are changing the lives of our kids and their families through THE GIFT OF COMMUNICATION!
Presley’s New Voice
Presley’s family told us what this device would mean, “A communication device will help Presley by aiding her to express her needs more clearly and helping our family to better understand her so that we may meet these needs to the best of our ability. We also feel that the device will help Presley learn new vocabulary and apply it in situations in which she might otherwise not be able to.”
John Immediately Asked For A Drink!
His SLP, Lucy shared, “John’s device was delivered today. John and his mom were both very excited! He told her ‘drink’- went to get a drink container from the fridge, and then said ‘please drink’ on the device. We were both so happy!! Above is a picture of him with his drink!”
A Device Allows Eli to be Heard & Understood
Eli’s SLP, Katie told us, “Elijah will be delighted to be able to communicate with his family. He gets very frustrated when trying to let us know what he needs. He is a very friendly person and loves to interact with us and I believe this device will enable him request what he wants without us having to narrow down what he is requesting.”
What do you think Aiden requested first with his device?
You’ll love what Aiden’s SLP, Jennifer shared with us, “After only a few minutes of me demonstrating with mom and giving her instructions, Aiden spontaneously approached the device and requested to “go” and when asked where… he requested “trampoline”. So of course, we went outside and he was happy as can be. On behalf of his family… thank you so much for the gift of voice for Aiden.”
THANK YOU for sharing in these special moments and being part of Variety’s team.
Nonstop Impact in August & September!
Things look a lot different this October than they did last year.
However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the impact that Variety is creating for kids with disabilities by providing them with customized adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and communication devices!
I hope you can take a few minutes to read some recent stories of how we are changing the lives of our kids and their families through THE GIFT OF MOBILITY!
“The best day of my life.” – Arabella’s dad
After 5-year old Arabella received her new adaptive bike (pictured above), her dad Doug was overcome with gratitude, as he said, “This is awesome, this is the best day of my life right now, absolutely. THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE. This is going to raise Arabella’s spirits so high. This little girl is going to feel like she is part of everybody else. When we wanted to go for bike rides, she would have to ride in the buggy. Now she can ride her bike.”
Check out Arabella riding in this piece by WNEP-TV: https://www.wnep.com/article/news/local/lycoming-county/kids-in-lycoming-county-receive-adaptive-bikes/523-81ab322d-fb6a-44ee-8b26-27c008f0f1fe
“Can we ride all day?” – Blayne
12-year old Blayne had an extra-special day as he started high school, and then after going to school, he got to ride his new bike for the very first time. He said to his mom as he rode around the parking lot, ”Can we ride all day?”
His mom Ashley described how much this bike would mean by saying, “This will be life-changing. He wants to be independent and he will be able to ride with his friends and brothers (Blayne is a twin) and, as a family, we love the outdoors and we love riding bikes.”
Read more about Blayne in this Northcentral PA news article – https://www.northcentralpa.com/news/local/local-childrens-groups-hold-equipment-giveaway-for-kids-with-disabilities/article_49b649ac-eb91-11ea-86a7-17d4540ba367.html
New Found Freedom for Natalie & Samantha
Pictured above are Samantha on the yellow bike and Natalie on the pink bike. Two of Samantha’s siblings received bikes last month, and now they will all be able to ride together.
Natalie’s mother, Ranah, reminded us of how important inclusion and accomplishment are, when she said, “We want Natalie to be able to do what any other kid can do, and now she can do it.”
We’ll name it, “Big Blue!”
When 15-year old Justan received his new adaptive stroller (pictured above), his mom Megan shared, “He can only walk about 20 feet with his walker. He is a very social boy who loves to be out. The stroller will allow us to safely and easily transport him. It is lightweight enough for us to handle, yet strong enough to support his thighs and weight. He feels safe in it and has named it ‘BIG BLUE’. . . I could just cry I am so happy for him.”
THANK YOU for sharing in the joy of our families!
WITH GREAT JOY, VARIETY ISN’T SLOWING DOWN DURING THE PANDEMIC!
Over the last few weeks, we distributed 12 adaptive bikes and 7 adaptive strollers (worth $32,100), and then fit 10 more kids for their bikes (the last step before ordering)!
Please take two-minutes to CHECK OUT THESE SMILES AND STORIES!
June 30th at the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV:
3-year old Sebastian (pictured above) could not wait for his new lime green adaptive bike. His mom, Andrea explained how much it meant, “Sebastian is very outgoing and active and loves to spend time with his siblings and cousins, doing things that normal children do, like riding bikes. It will be a great exercise for Sebastian, but not only that, it will also make him feel included and grant him some independence when we go walking/biking as a family. It will be a lot more fun to him than just sitting in a stroller or wheelchair.”
With his new bike (made individually for him), Sebastian won’t miss out on the feelings of freedom, joy, and fun that come with riding a bike. He’ll just be one of the kids.
July 7th at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit 7:
16-year old Hannah (pictured above on her new red bike with some of the other recipients) received her 2nd adaptive bike, and her mom, Beth Telford explained how much impact the bike has created for Hannah and their entire family,
“Hannah is so happy when she rides her adaptive Rifton tricycle that she received from Variety in 2013. It is a wonderful means for exercise as well as having fun with her brothers and me. Hannah is very proud of herself when she’s on her bike. She sings, in her own way, and smiles the entire time.
Having a bike to take with us when we go camping makes our family camping trips so much more special as she can get around the campground like her brothers and the other kids there. Biking is a fun, family activity that creates strong bodies and good moments which become good memories.”
Did you know that after 3 years, Variety allows eligible families to reapply for a new bike? It has been a joy to see kids like Hannah, and so many others receive their second bike – knowing that the first has brought them years of pure joy!
Read more about the day at WIU7 in this terrific article by TribLive: https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/adaptive-bikes-strollers-devices-unlock-new-potential-for-westmoreland-county-children/
July 27th at the Capital Area Intermediate Unit:
For 14-year old Katie (pictured above), Monday meant freedom and fun when she received her new PINK adaptive bike. Her mom, Mary told us, “Katie has a Rifton bike on loan to use at her school for physical therapy. Katie loves the bike as it makes her feel independent as well as normal. If Katie had a Rifton bike to use at home, she would be able to use it when our family goes on walks, hikes at the local state park, and provide some physical exercise and hopefully increase her desire to be outside more.”
We were grateful to have ABC27-News join us for the distribution and featuring Katie’s bid day! Check out what Katie is most excited about in this 1-minute piece: https://www.abc27.com/news/pennsylvania/kids-with-disabilities-receive-new-adaptive-bikes/
With partners like MIU4, WIU7, CAIU, Blackburn’s (and so many more), we are continuing to make an impact for kids with disabilities and their families!
Thank you all for sharing in the joy and supporting our important work to help kids, be kids!
5-year old Mikey received his new communication device on June 9, 2020 through Variety’s My Voice® Program!
On June 18th, Mikey’s mom, Laura wrote and told us, “Getting familiar with Mikey’s new device this morning! I am letting him choose the words then we have a conversation about them. The more we do this, the more he will become familiar with it and our conversations will start to take shape! This is beyond exciting for us.
We now have a way to help him express himself. This is the greatest gift. We are so thankful for his speech therapist who took the time to program this device for him and came to the house to help us get a good start. We are also so thankful for Variety – the Children’s Charity of Pittsburgh for working with us to get him this! We are just overwhelmed with gratitude.”
Then, we got a second update on July 14th, and Laura said, “We are so thankful for all of you! We are still learning a lot, but he found his favorite tv show all by himself the other day and screamed with delight! He was able to ask us for the exact show he wanted to watch. It was the best feeling to see him so elated. It made my mama heart burst.”
Can you feel her joy in those words?
In the midst of a pandemic, Variety continues to make a difference for kids with disabilities, and because of our grant through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, Mikey now has a voice.
61 kids in Schuylkill County CELEBRATED with TRUE FREEDOM this weekend after recently receiving their new adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and/or communication devices!
These 61 kids have the FREEDOM to ride a bike and gain independence, have the FREEDOM to get out in the community easily and safely with their stroller, and have the FREEDOM of a voice with their device. PROVIDING FREEDOM is at the core of what we are giving our kids and their families, and I hope you’ll take a few moments to share in these life-changing moments!
Lyla, age 13 received an adaptive bike:
“Very happy that I finally have that chance to ride a bike and just be happy. Like normal kids because I can’t do a lot of things that normal kids can do,” said Lyla in an interview with WBRE-TV.
You don’t want to miss the full interview to hear more from Lyla and her Grandmother, Sharon, so click below:
Kareem, age 10 received an adaptive bike:
WNEP-TV also joined us, as Kareem and other kids received their new bikes! Kareem’s mom told WNEP, “This opens up a whole new world for him to be able to go out and socialize and play with other kids. He can’t ride a regular bike, so this is helping him to go out with his brothers and have a good time that he can’t do without it honestly.”
Click here to see the full piece and watch Kareem ride his bike for the first time: https://www.wnep.com/article/news/local/schuylkill-county/charity-adapts-bikes-to-assist-children-with-disabilities/523-e6165b8d-54eb-436a-b0b9-cf78fcbf3650
At our core, we want to give kids freedom, and these smiles by The Shenandoah Sentinel truly captures the joy of the day for Kaylonie and Anayamarie!
IT’S ALL FOR THE KIDS!
We’re thrilled to share more smiles with you, as we continue to MAKE IT WORK FOR THE KIDS!
In the last week, we partnered with Intermediate Unit 1, the Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8, and Blackburn’s to present 15 adaptive bikes and 10 adaptive strollers to kids in Washington, Fayette, Greene, Blair, Bedford, Cambria, and Somerset Counties, and more from the Wheeling, WV region! Providing the kids with adaptive bikes and strollers is especially meaningful in the midst of a pandemic.
Hunter, age 4 from Fayette County received an adaptive stroller:
The pure JOY on Hunter’s face is truly captivating, and his mom, Abby powerfully explains why an adaptive stroller is truly life-changing for her son. “Walking Long distances for Hunter is very tiring and sometimes painful. An adaptive stroller will provide Hunter with some independence while still being able to rest when he needs it.” Abby’s words are a reminder that an adaptive stroller is critical for a variety of kids with a variety of needs.
Silas, age 7 from Washington County received an adaptive bike:
If you look closely, you can see Silas smiling underneath his mask, as well as his awesome shark helmet! His mom, Jolene told us why this bike is important and needed for her son,
“At the present time, Silas is unable to ride bikes and interact with his peers and sibling. Silas cannot ride a traditional bike due to his fragility, rods in his legs, and the added physical stress and fracture risk it involves.
As Silas is unable to participate in most sports / physical activities, this will be the main way for him to get physical exercise.”
Anaea, age 17 from Bedford County got fit for her new adaptive bike:
It was a very special day for Anaea, who got fit for her new adaptive bike (the last step before we can order it), and her mom, Julie told The Altoona Mirror how much this bike would mean, “We are a very active family and like to go on walks and Anaea comes along,” Julie said. “We also like to run and ride bikes and someone would have to stay behind with Anaea, but now we can all go out together.”
Read more in the full article by The Altoona Mirror: https://www.altoonamirror.com/news/local-news/2020/06/pittsburgh-charity-helps-to-provide-special-bikes/
Noah, age 6 from Bedford County received an adaptive bike:
“Noah loves spending time with his older brother Kaden. Unfortunately, Kaden loves to ride his bike all over the back-parking lot. Noah tries very hard to join in, but he can’t stay on the bike seat on his regular bike. He has a hard time balancing and can’t push the peddles to make it move.
At school, he uses an adaptive bike and does very well with it. His therapist has shared with us that he is so proud of himself when he can do it on his own. He is a 6 year old little boy who doesn’t get to ride bikes with his older brother or go on bike rides with us.
I want to see that smile on his face.”
WTAJ-TV also joined us for yesterday’s distribution, and you don’t want to miss seeing Dominic trialing an adaptive bike, or his aunt and cousins say how much it will mean to them all. Click here to watch and enjoy: https://www.wearecentralpa.com/news/local-news/kids-with-special-needs-receive-free-adaptive-bikes-strollers/
Stay tuned for more smiles because over the next few weeks, we have distribution events scheduled with Schuylkill IU29, Midwestern IU4, Westmoreland IU7, and Blackburn’s!