“Happy Tears” from Sierra’s Parents

This short note from Sierra’s mom and dad is deeply moving, and we hope that it brings some happiness into your day / week!

The same day that Sierra received her new adaptive stroller (pictured above), Sierra’s mom, Elaine sent this message of joy,

“Sierra absolutely LOVES her stroller (and we do, too!!).

When she got in the door, she had her stroller name tag in her hand, and she was so excited to show me — she was pointing to the word ‘stroller’.

She was so excited for dad to bring it inside, and Sierra was absolutely bursting with excitement in anticipation.

Guess what — she wanted to sit in it IMMEDIATELY, and she moved her computer chair swiftly aside because she wanted her stroller in front of her computer desk / touch-screen computer. She even wanted to be seat-belted in–ha! ha!

Sierra is so happy sitting in her stroller right now–and watching a video of the Jack Rabbit roller coaster at Kennywood (one of her favorite places and rides)!

I just had to let you know — her JOY at having this stroller is beyond heart-warming to us. We are SO happy to see HER feeling so happy and content!

What a gift Variety has given our whole family — seeing Sierra smile and giggle because of the joy she has gotten from her adaptive bike, her communication device, AND NOW, her pretty raspberry adaptive stroller – this equipment is just PRICELESS!

Happy tears here from happy parents!

It’s safe to say that an adaptive stroller has an immediate impact on the kids and their families!

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!

Hearing “I love you”

Valentine’s Day is centered on love, and to us, the greatest gift you can ever receive is the love of another person.

Many of the kids we’re helping are not able to say, “I love you” with their own voice, but with a communication device, kids like Reagan (demonstrating above) have the ability to express THEIR LOVE.

Last summer, Graysun received his new communication device (pictured above), but last week, his SLP, Kaitlyn shared, Graysun verbally said ‘I love you’ to me yesterday. This is huge, and I am positive his communication device is what has helped him get to this point!!”

Before receiving his device, Graysun’s mom, Brandi explained her hope and how much this means,

“The only person who understands Graysun is me, his mother. In a very profound way, this equipment will impact our whole family. Graysun and his older brother, Levi cannot communicate as well as they could because Graysun only has limited verbal ability.

To be able to see him communicate his needs would be astonishing. My sons will have a better relationship if Graysun had a way to express his voice, and a device will go such a long way.”

We will always remember Kevin (pictured above) and his mom LaVelle, who shared this incredible moment,

“I looked at Kevin and said, ‘I love you, buddy,’ and he took his talker, oriented himself towards me, and he used it to reply, ‘I love you more!’ Then, without skipping a beat, Kevin put down his talker and threw his arms around my neck and hugged me to demonstrate what he just said.”

We know how powerful it is to hear those three words from a child, “I love you” – however it’s expressed. It doesn’t matter if it is said with a child’s own voice, or through a communication device, the expression of love is felt either way.

P.S. Please consider sharing this e-mail today with the people you love or care about.

Danny Can SEE & EXPERIENCE Her World!

Imagine if you couldn’t sit up on your own while out in the community… How would you see the world differently?

When Danny received her new adaptive stroller (pictured below with her beautiful service dog), I could tell it was an important day for her AND her family.

Her mom, Marie told us very simply why the adaptive stroller is so important,

“She’s laying down in her current stroller, so this one makes a big difference because with the accessories, it enables her to sit up safely and fit comfortably.

The adaptive stroller will also make transporting her so much easier, since we cannot get her wheelchair into our car.”

As Danny smiled in her new stroller, her grandma, Tracey exclaimed,

“Danny is GLEEFUL because she’s sitting UP in the adaptive stroller!”

Grandma’s level of joy at the presentation was on another level because for the first time, her granddaughter was able to SIT UP and SEE more of the world around her.

All it took was an adaptive stroller to transform Danny’s daily life.

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.

“YELLOW because I can SEE IT!”

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY!

21-year old Jessica is legally blind, but she just received her new adaptive bike from Variety, and it is something to make you smile!

When we first met Jessica at her bike fitting, she was so passionate about the color of her bike, and Jessica wanted YELLOW because she could see it – something no one realized until she told us.

At the presentation, Jessica shared in her own words what the bike means, by saying, This will help me to get out and ride more and get exercise. I love the exercise!

Her dad, Charlie also shared his excitement for the bike, by saying,

“Our family loves to ride bikes on the bike trails near our home.

Some of us have to run and hold onto a bike that Jessica is riding, or we have to rig a wagon to the back of our bikes just so we can all go together.

This bike opens a door to enjoy family bike rides. It will be so nice for us all to ride bikes together and be able to spend that family time enjoying exercise and the outdoors.

Jessica loves to exercise and having this special bike will mean our entire family can do this activity together.”

Jessica was a good reminder to me that you just don’t know who will want or love this equipment, and we should never make assumptions on who can ride a bike, even those with blindness or vision issues.

Racing to 5,000 After 9-Years of SMILES!

9 YEARS AGO, we officially kicked off Variety’s My Bike® Program with Governor Tom Corbett, Highmark’s Deb Rice-Johnson, PNC’s Andrea Carelli, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and we presented Bike #1 to Aubrey (pictured below) at PNC Park – it was one historic and special day!

What started as ‘just an idea’ to provide kids with special bikes in 2012 has now grown into three innovative equipment programs that are changing the lives of our children with disabilities, and the journey has been filled with a lot of smiles and hope from their families.

Most recently, Elliot (pictured below with his family) received his new adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller from Variety – after receiving his communication device last May!

After watching Elliot ride his new bike, his mom, Heather exclaimed with joy, “He seriously just pedaled for the first time!! Elliot and his siblings are very close and very active. We are so happy they can ride bikes together now!”

Now, Variety is racing towards presenting our 5,000th piece of adaptive equipment!

Strolling Away with A SMILE

We are fortunate to help so many kids and families. They are truly at the center of everything we do, especially in helping us understand how truly life-changing our programs are for them.

9-year old Hannah is pictured above in her new PINK adaptive stroller that provides her with safe, easy, on-the-go mobility.

Hannah is surrounded by her two sisters, Lauren and Katie, along with her mom, Barbara, who were all thrilled about Hannah’s new “set of wheels” because it meant togetherness.

Barbara’s words help us understand the immediate impact that the stroller created:

“Hannah isn’t able to walk independently, so our family is always looking for ways to include Hannah in our everyday activities. All too often we’ve been limited to picking the one wheelchair that will best suit her needs.

Unfortunately, that means we choose what is most practical for school and the indoors. But, if you’ve ever tried to push a traditional wheelchair through a snowy parking lot or across a gravel pathway, you know how difficult and uncomfortable it can be in the great outdoors!

We dream of being able to have the best of both worlds.

For Hannah, and our family, having a Mighty Lite stroller means she can join her siblings on a stroll down our gravel road, or on a hike on a path out into the woods!

She’d be able to navigate the walkways at local parks or the local ski slope, where her dad and siblings like to entertain her with their slips and slides.

For mommy, it means getting outside more and perhaps even ‘off the beaten path’ a little, and it will allow Mom and Hannah to more easily join the rest of the family on adventures.

A stroller made for travel and the outdoors will literally mean the world to us — for it gives Hannah the opportunity to explore the world around her like never before!”

My Stroller is helping families stay safe, stay together, and live more freely.

This isn’t just a stroller, but a life-changing piece of equipment that has an immediate impact on not only the child, but their entire family.

It’s a beautiful thing, and we hope it brings a smile to your week to know that Hannah has her new set of wheels.

Celebrating Jaheim & Loralei!

Here are a few more reasons for you to smile – ENJOY!

14-year old, Jaheim (pictured above surrounded by his family) received his second adaptive bike through Variety at the Capital Area Intermediate Unit last month!

At the presentation, his mom, Camiline shared,

“With other kids, Jaheim uses his bike to have water balloon battlers or to play tag.

When he was born, I was told he would never be able to walk or talk. And, never be able to ride a bike. He’s walking, talking, and riding a bike.

This special bike strengthens his legs in the winter, gives him exercise, and mental relief.”

12-year old Loralei was “over-the-moon” excited when she also received her second adaptive bike, and she was all smiles surrounded by her family and me below.

Before receiving her new adaptive bike, Loralei’s mom, Jenny shared why this was so important for her daughter, by saying,

“I believe getting Loralei a larger version of the adaptive bike it will help to continue to strengthen her legs, core, and agility. She will be able to be included with her sister and friends to ride with them. She loves to be outside and around people.”

Loralei’s grandpa, Mike also shared in his own words what the bike means for his granddaughter, by saying,

“This bike is freedom because she always either has her poles or the chair. When she’s in the bike, it’s absolute freedom for her.”

KDKA’s Briana Smith joined us to share in the joy of the day, and she featured Loraeli in this beautiful story: https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/09/20/allegheny-county-kids-adaptive-bicycles/

Variety’s equipment programs are helping kids like Jaheim and Loralei THRIVE, and we’re so grateful that you can share in their joy with us!

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!”