Hi Variety Friends:
Now, more than ever, we’re all trying to create smiles for those around us. Small moments of levity in the midst of a stressful and anxious period. I’m sure many of you have watched our Jokes with Jacob smile series on social media (if you haven’t, go give yourself a laugh here).
His joke and humor have truly brought a smile to my face, and his efforts inspired me to do more in my own neighborhood.
My wife, Terese and I put on Halloween costumes over the weekend, and we took a stroll around our neighborhood in the hopes of making others smile. We got a lot of people staring and double-taking what they were seeing, but it was the reactions from the kids that made it most meaningful.
- Two 4-year old girls came running towards us from their cul-de-sac, screaming with joy, “Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head!!” Then, very seriously, the two girls told us, “We are superheroes. We’re protecting the neighborhood.”
- Another young boy, age 5 was stunned by what he was seeing, and his mom asked him with a smile, “Did you know Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head lived in our neighborhood?”
I also sent this photo of Terese and me to Jacob, so that he knew that his jokes were inspiring us to share the smiles. Here’s a photo of him reacting to our costumes, saying, “You are CUCKOO!”
Let’s all keep smiling, together.
Take good care,
Charles P. LaVallee
Chief “Excitement” Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity
Variety would like to invite you to the PREMIERE of JOKES WITH JACOB, a social media Smile Series that hopes to bring a smile to your face.
Beginning this Wednesday, April 1st at 4:00 PM on Variety’s Facebook Page!
Jacob has truly inspired us with his attitude, especially in light of all the adversity he’s faced in his life.
23-year old Jacob has been involved with Variety since a young age and received adaptive equipment. What really stands out to us about Jacob is his strong desire to give back and help more kids.
His jokes are beautiful and his laugh is “out-of-this-world” funny.
A few years ago, Jacob joined Variety for a presentation to speak with a group of employees from across Pennsylvania. He used his jokes (told through his communication device) to not only make the nearly 400 attendees laugh out loud, but they were also able to see Jacob, not as a person with extra needs, but as a regular yinzer. Because of Jacob, those attendees were so inspired and raised $40,000 to sponsor 35 more kids with their own communication device!
We believe a smile can change the world. It has the power to inspire us, lift us up, and remind us that there is beauty all around us.
We hope that you will tune into our Facebook Page this Wednesday, April 1st at 4:00 PM to view the first of many, many jokes from Jacob.
Please like, comment, and share, so that we can bring a smile to as many people as possible! Then, check back every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:00 PM for a new episode of JOKES WITH JACOB!
We are in this together, and together, let’s keep smiling. We believe you won’t be able to help but smile when you see Jacob laugh at his joke.
Tree of Life Rabbi Myers was on GMA this past Friday morning, and he made a terrific point when he said that we need “PHYSICAL distance from others at this time but SOCIAL connection.” Such a good point that we need social connectedness. We are grateful for our connection and all that we have done and are doing for kids with disabilities.
At this challenging time, we wanted to send you a small reminder about the power of a smile.
Issac makes me smile because I know that he has a communication device to not only help him find freedom in communication, but, as his mom describes below, it will help to lessen his own daily frustration.
Issac’s mom, Morgan describes why this device is needed, “Issac’s functional communication has always been a struggle, and it is clearly a source of frustration for him when he tries to communicate but can’t find the words he needs. Since he started speech therapy, Issac has continued to develop a vocabulary of useful words for requesting objects and observations. With this equipment, we can continue to support Issac as his vocabulary grows, and it is our hope this will help decrease frustration.”
Let’s strive to keep our social connection and find every moment to SMILE!
When 4-year old Nik received his communication device, he was BEAUTIFULLY surrounded by his parents, siblings, grandparents, and even his aunt and uncle. All of whom came to the presentation to celebrate this life-changing day and to show their commitment to helping him every step of the way.
Nik’s mom, Nikol gave us perspective to why she was originally hesitant to try a communication device, and the impact it has since had on her son,
“Watching your child struggle with something is one of the hardest things. Especially when that struggle is with communication.
We as Nikolas’s parents… growing up… we would never think twice about being able to verbally communicate. Something, we feel we took for granted.
We have tried to be so proactive with helping him communicate. When Nik’s speech therapist asked us about utilizing an iPad in class to help Nikolas, we had a concern that it would hurt more so than help Nik. ‘Would he use the iPad and not want to try to speak?’ We were worried, but after support from his teacher and speech therapist, we decided to try it.
To our surprise Nik seemed to come home, almost daily, and it felt like he was able to verbally communicate more that day or week than the last. Janet asked if we were interested in having one at home and without hesitation we happily said ‘YES!’
To have Nik come home and not struggle with verbally communicating his wants as much, whether picking up more words or utilizing the iPad, would be such a blessing.”
After receiving his device, Nikol sent us this 30-second video of him using it to tell her what he wanted:
Thank you for believing in Variety’s work and helping us, help more kids.
3-year old Hazel was all smiles, as she checked out her new communication device (and ate a tangerine). She received the device last Tuesday through Variety’s My Voice® Program, and we are still beaming with joy for her and her entire family.
Her mom, Mary told us,
“Hazel wants to communicate. She tries so hard to tell us what she wants and what she’s thinking, but she runs into the limitation of her ability very quickly. While Hazel communicates with sign language, she only has about five spoken words, and it’s very difficult for her to form words.
A device like this would be life-changing for us, as it would give her another way to speak to us, and it would give her a consistent aid in hearing spoken words to help her build her own vocal abilities.”
This communication device is a tool for kids like Hazel to find their voice, and be able to express their wants, needs, and feelings to those around them. I don’t know about you, but I would love to hear what Hazel has to say now with her device!
On Monday, January 27th, Variety presented adaptive equipment in Erie, and what a day it was!
6-year old Brayden received a communication device AND a bike, and you have to read what his mom shared…
“Brayden is nonverbal, so he doesn’t speak, so this device is going to really help him. And it’s just, it gets tough because I’m a single mom at home, I have limited income and I have another child who’s high functioning autistic. She speaks and everything, but she’s just having some trouble with emotions and dealing with others.
And so we just take one day at a time, but he’s just – all of these kids with special needs are such blessings, but it’s hard, it’s really hard sometimes. And you just want to make it as normal for them as possible, because they have enough challenges, so you just want to give them love and help them communicate as best they can. So I’m very thankful.”
Earlier that day, Variety held a Press Conference with City of Erie Mayor Joseph Schember, Saint Vincent Hospital CEO Dr. Christopher Clark, representatives from Intermediate Unit 5, Barber National Institute, and others from the Northwestern corner of Pa. to make a big push to identify every eligible child who could benefit from their own communication device.