Families Teach Us

Adaptive bikes and strollers are so much more than a piece of equipment, as Heidi and Irene both describe for us below.

Zeyke received his second adaptive bike over the summer, and his grandmother, Heidi explained how critical it has been, especially the last few years. She shared,

“Zeyke first received his bike from Variety in June 2019, and he was very excited about his new-found freedom!

Upon receiving the bike, it changed his world. I could finally take him for walks, and he also got exercise doing it, and he quickly wanted to go for multiple walks every day to ride his bike!

It took almost a full year, but by May of 2020, he took off on his own and pedaling on his own! The smiles on his face and mine were priceless the first time he did it! He has not lost any interest in the bike and continues to go on bike rides every day.

I do not know what I would have done throughout the pandemic without his bike… It truly gave us many ways to get out of the house and stay safe, and Zeyke has probably ridden the bike hundreds of miles in these past three years! Thanks for all you do for our children!”

Teenager Jacqueline is pictured below in her new adaptive stroller – looking especially comfy.

Her mom, Irene explained simply why the stroller would have an immediate impact, by saying, “Over the years, Jacqueline has lost the ability to walk independently, and it’s gotten really hard to go places as a family… something we really enjoy. This stroller will help Jackie be able to go out more and be more comfortable alongside our family.”

Life-Changing Equipment

A few months ago, 4-year-old Noah received his new adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller, and a year ago, he received a communication device – gaining all three pieces of equipment!

Noah’s smile above really says it all, but his mom, Roxanne shared the transformative difference the bike will make, by saying,

“My son is unable to even sit on a regular tricycle, let alone ride it. He is also unable to steer and petal by himself. We want him to get the idea of how to ride a bike, since he is already four years old and has never been able to properly ride one.

An adaptive bike will mean so much to our family because Noah can finally ride a bike this summer alongside his big sister, and we wouldn’t have to worry about him getting injured.”

Don’t miss Noah’s even bigger smile, as he tested out his new stroller below!

The stroller may not be as flashy as the bike, but it certainly has an immediate and incredible impact, like Roxanne helped us understand,

“Noah has always had low tone, a small limp when he walks (which is part of why he has leg braces), and he gets winded quicker than other children his age. As a family, we love going to places such as our local zoo, walks around the peninsula, and to our local amusement park. Noah absolutely loves going to these places, too, but it definitely presents a challenge for him and his legs when we are there for extended periods of time.

The adaptive stroller will help our family continue to do the things we love, especially during the warmer months in PA, and still allow for Noah to take breaks when needed. Not to mention, the stroller will lighten the burden on him and on myself and my husband from carrying Noah (especially since he has gotten very heavy as a four year old!).”

I am thrilled for Noah because families are regularly telling us, “the earlier their child can receive this life-changing equipment, the greater possibilities for their future.”

Left to right: Mia is pictured above at times when she could not speak, to when she could speak through a communication device, and finally, to speaking with her own voice.

Mia’s mom, Anita recently shared at our Gala that her daughter is “a poster child for the importance and impact of early childhood intervention,” because at nearly 4 years old, Mia received a communication device and was completely nonverbal at that time.

Now at the age 7, Mia speaks completely with her own voice – can you even imagine the possibilities for her life now?!

Celebrating 10 Years of My Bike!

Today, we are celebrating TEN YEARS of Variety’s My Bike® Program, which officially kicked off on Monday, November 5, 2012 to simply provide adaptive bikes to kids with disabilities.

Through My Bike, kids who were being left out / excluded from this childhood milestone now get to experience the joy and freedom of riding a bike alongside siblings and friends.

Take a minute to experience the impact of an adaptive bike by watching Variety’s kids riding their bikes in the 2022 Labor Day Parade in Pittsburgh!

Since kicking off, we’ve presented more than 2,700 adaptive bikes (worth more than $4.8 million in equipment), which is a true testament to what can be achieved when we come together for the kids!

In celebration of this momentous anniversary, we have set a goal to sponsor another 100 adaptive bikes for 100 more kids.

If you have the means, I would grateful for your consideration to donate to My Bike today by giving online now or by mail with attached form.

It’s $1,800 to sponsor one bike for a child, but any amount makes a difference with nearly 150 applications are currently in-process for kids that need their own adaptive bike.

Rain or Shine… Our Kids Ride!

Above:  Sadie is all smiles surrounded by her family and myself, as well as Variety Advisory Board Member, Josh Kopp and his family, who sponsored Sadie’s bike.

This past Monday, a handful of Variety kids rode their adaptive bikes in the Labor Day Parade through downtown Pittsburgh, and even though the forecast was mostly rain, the kids arrived and were READY TO RIDE!

Above:  James is getting revved-up for the parade with his parents and sister, Krissy.

This was James’ 4th year riding his bike in the Labor Day Parade, and his sister, Krissy helped us understand what the day and experience mean, as she shared:

“Though the weather at this year’s Labor Day parade was dreary, the smile that my brother, James, had on his face helped make the day brighter as he rode his bike through the puddle-laden streets of Pittsburgh!

This was the fourth year that James has had the opportunity to ride his bike in the parade, and each year we are thankful for the opportunity to participate. After a two-year pause on the parade, due to COVID-19, we were especially excited to get back into the action.

As our dad, Jimmy, is a union carpenter in Local 432, this opportunity means so much more to us than just getting James some exercise in one of the coolest ways possible; there’s few things more exciting than being in a parade!

We are proud of our dad and the work he puts in every day to take care of our family. We feel as if walking, and riding, in the parade is a great way to honor his work and show him how proud of him we are!

James loves riding his bike and getting to do it on a day that celebrates labor unions, and his dad’s hard work, means a lot to him.

Without the bike from Variety, James would not have the same experience being in the parade as other families walking in the Labor Day Parade; instead of actively participating on his bike, he would be pushed in his wheelchair.

In the parade this year, I was the one walking behind James, giving the bike a push if he needed it; in this moment, I was again thankful for the opportunities the bike has provided me to spend time with James.

As I’ve gotten older and things in my life have changed, I haven’t been home nearly as often as I’d like to, to spend time with James and the rest of my family. I will absolutely cherish this time I had with all of them, and I know this time spent with James will live on forever in my memory.

We all had a wonderful time at the parade, despite the rain! James always says on a rainy day, ‘it’s a good day for ducks,’ but I think the opportunity to see James and the other riders in the parade made it a great day for everyone!

Thank you so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

CBS National News Story Featuring My Voice

We reached another milestone last week with a CBS National News story that shined a spotlight on Variety’s My Voice® Program!

Please watch, share, and be inspired by this story broken into three parts:

We are hopeful that this story will enable us to help even more kids in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as highlight that we’ve truly created a model that can be replicated throughout the nation (and even world).

A tremendous thanks to KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen, who not only made this extraordinary opportunity possible, but she also became a voice for the kids that still need a communication device.

My Voice is creating a life-changing impact for kids that are nonverbal (or have a communication disorder), and we’re so grateful for your support to make it happen!

Why Variety Matters

A very special note from Justice’s mom, Vikki, who wrote to us after Justice received her PINK adaptive bike a few weeks ago! Vikki’s words shine a light on why Variety matters.

Vikki wrote to us, “This is Justice’s very first bike ever….and it’s all thanks to Variety the Children’s Charity. They are amazing and do amazing things. They help kids like Justice show their abilities not their disabilities….I was in tears. I have no words for how amazing they are and how grateful we are for this gift…Thank you so much for all you do…remember just because your child has disabilities doesn’t mean they aren’t able to do something.”

Riding Bikes, Like Kids Do

Evan, Tahjanai, and Noah are three recent My Bike® recipients (see them riding below), and they now have an adaptive bike of their very own that was made to meet their needs!

Not only do parents explain their hope for this life-changing equipment, but they also help us all understand why it’s needed and important.

Before 17-year old Evan (pictured above) received his new adaptive bike from Variety, his mom, Leila told us what this bike will mean for her son, by saying,

“With an adaptive bike, it will help with his mobility, confidence, exercise, and also he will be able to join the family in a bike ride which will make him very happy.

When we try a regular bike, he is wobbly, falls, and gets frustrated. He then walks, and cannot keep up. Looking forward to the family time!

12-year old Tahjanai from Luzerne County (pictured below) was grinning from ear-to-ear when she received her new adaptive bike from Variety, and I think her smile says it ALL!

Last month, 5-year-old Liam (pictured below) from Washington County received his new adaptive bike from Variety, and it was truly a day to remember for his family!

Liam’s mom, Erin described the life-changing difference this bike will have on her son and family:

“My hope is that the adaptive bike will allow Liam the freedom to ride a bike on his own.

At 5 years old, this will not be the first bike he has tried to ride. The biggest issue we have is keeping his feet on the pedals. He really enjoys being on a bike, but his feet slip off the pedals. He also gets fatigued from even putting his feet on the foot rest for an extended time.

I am excited that Liam will finally have a bike that he can learn to pedal, gain leg strength, and independence! An adaptive bike will also allow Liam to do activities that other children his age participate in. That bit of normalcy is a blessing for which gives us hope.”

Through your support and partnership… WE’RE HELPING KIDS, BE KIDS, TOGETHER!

More Bikes for More Kids

Can you remember riding your first bike?
Bike riding is a true childhood milestone for all kids, but for kids with disabilities, it creates a ripple of life-changing impact.
Natalie is all smiles for her second bike after the first “made life easier and happier” for her whole family…

Lincoln’s new bike will not only bring great joy, but it will help to strengthen his legs while having fun with his family…
Oliver will be able to “keep up with his four siblings” on his new bike…
Variety’s My Bike® Program has provided more than 2,600 adaptive bikes, and we’re not slowing down… because every child deserves to ride a bike.
Thank you so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

P.S. A special thanks to Seneca Highlands Intermediate Unit 9 and Central Intermediate Unit 10, who helped us make the smiles above possible.

Our Spring Tour Keeps Rolling On!

We have “miles of smiles” to share as Variety’s 2022 SPRING LIFE-CHANGING TOUR continued with another 39 adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers presented in partnership with Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29, Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8, and Blackburn’s!

We saw pure joy, as 9-year-old Saj (above) was strapped into her new adaptive bike, and her mom, Shalease helped us understand why it will make a huge impact:

“The adaptive bike will most importantly allow Saj to enjoy an outdoor activity that most of her peers enjoy. It will also help Saj strengthen her left side where she has limited mobility. Overall, I think this bike will be transformative for her overall health physically, as well as mentally and emotionally.”

5-year old Noah (above) received his new adaptive stroller a few weeks ago, and his mom, Anne shared the life-changing difference it will make for them both:

“In large groups of people, Noah either runs off and hides, or claws me or someone else to hold him, especially if he doesn’t know anyone. It’s difficult to go anywhere with him, and holds us back from a lot of things.

An adaptive stroller that he can fit in will make going anywhere more enjoyable for us all. I will be able to take him more places by myself, and just about anywhere! Can you imagine the possibilities and new adventures he can enjoy at 5 years old?!

At the presentation, Anne also shared this phenomenal update, “Noah received a communication device in January 2020, but now hardly has to use it! He went from no words to saying most words on his own. He still takes his device with him to school just in case, but he is mostly speaking with his own voice.”

3-year-old Dawson and his family (above) were thrilled to receive his new adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller, but his mom, Jennifer shared why the stroller will make a world of difference:

“Dawson is a very active child, and it is nearly impossible to safely direct him in public or outside. Dawson misses out on so many activities because allowing him to walk freely can be a danger to him. Dawson will run and pull away if he becomes overwhelmed, or if it’s an environment he’s not familiar with.

I’m hoping the adaptive stroller will give him a better quality of life and so much more social interaction. Dawson is getting too big for a standard stroller, so without an adaptive stroller, he can’t participate in so many things a child his age should be able to do.”

Later that day, Dawson’s family was so excited because they were able to use the stroller to go to the store to get him a new pair of sneakers, and it was the first time they were able to take him to the store!

We also received incredible support by the media, who help us create greater awareness and find more kids that can benefit from our programs – don’t miss these stories by WNEP-TV, WTAJ-TV, and the Republican Herald.

Mia’s Own Voice | Plus, 300 Devices & Counting

While our Spring Tour continues to bring miles of smiles, our My Voice® Program has provided more than 300 communication devices in the last 7-months!

Last Thursday, WTAJ (based in Altoona) aired an incredible news story that gave an in depth look into 7-year-old Mia’s communication journey – going from no words, to a communication device, to speaking with her own voice!

Please take a moment to enjoy and share with otherswww.wearecentralpa.com/news/local-news/communication-device-gives-huntingdon-county-girl-a-voice

We constantly hear from parents that My Voice is making a life-changing difference for kids and their families, and here are a few more reasons to smile.

8-year-old Jaxson recently received his new communication device (above), and his mom, Elizabeth described their hope, by saying,

I believe this device will open up a whole new world of communication and socialization. It will help him grow his independence (which he will need someday), confidence, and happiness.

He has so much to say and I watch him struggle to tell someone what he wants or is thinking. Being able to join a conversation and responding is a dream – mine and his.”

Wilson’s excitement for his new communication device is out of this world (pictured above), and his mom, Kristine shared what it will mean, by saying,

“Wilson really only speaks in approximations. He does not say many words that are understandable to his teachers or family members who are not with him every day.

However, I know that Wilson knows a lot but has a hard time demonstrating his knowledge. A communication device will help him demonstrate to his teachers what he has learned and to indicate his needs to his family members.”