Open Up for Some Good News!

Variety’s 2022 SPRING LIFE-CHANGING TOUR continues with nearly 40 more adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers being presented with Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit 16, AFSCME Council 13, Westmoreland Intermediate Unit 7, Clairview School, and Blackburn’s!

Don’t miss reading why this mobility equipment will truly change the lives of the kids and their families!

It was a big day for twin brothers, Judah and Silas (from Northumberland County), who received their new adaptive bikes, and their mom, Nicole told us why the bikes will make a big difference:

For Judah, the combination of low coordination and anxiety make it difficult for him to join in on what most consider normal activities.

An adaptive bike will allow him to develop the coordination necessary to not only ride a bike, but to be able to participate in other activities and remove the anxiety and fear holding him back!”

Silas has fought every day to overcome challenges and difficulties from birth, and he still struggles with balance, coordination, and vision. He desperately wants to play with and partake in the same activities as his family, friends, and peers at school, but often struggles and becomes frustrated.

An adaptive bike will not only help improve his balance and coordination, but also his confidence – leading him to gain more independence and freedom!

Two bikes for two brothers – that’s something to make us all smile!

Delilah-Rose from Dauphin County is pictured above on her beautiful new pink adaptive bike, and her mom, Delaina shared:

“An adaptive bike will really help with my daughter’s coordination issues.

Also, she will be able to ride bikes with her cousins who are the same age without them asking me why can’t she play like them.

This bike will build her confidence in being to do something new and keep her self-esteem high because she can now do the same activities as the other children her age!”

Luke from Westmoreland County was beaming with joy on his new adaptive bike, and that night, Luke’s mom shared this beautiful message:

“Luke is beyond elated for his bike and has been talking about it for a couple weeks since we found out we were approved.

He got it today and the whole way home all I heard was, ‘Mommy where’s my blue bike,” and “Mommy I ride my blue bike.’

A huge thank you to the people who donate to Variety to make kids like Luke’s dreams come true, and turning our Luke’s dream of riding with his siblings and keeping up with them a reality.

He is always such a happy determined kiddo and this bike gives him the chance to keep fighting.”

Check out more from our presentation in Westmoreland County by reading this terrific news story by the Tribune Review (Greensburg)!

Life-Changing Tour for KIDS!

Last month, we kicked off Variety’s 2022 Spring Life-Changing Tour for Kids, and we presented more than 30 adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers in partnership with Covestro, Midwestern Intermediate Unit 4, Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit 5, and Blackburn’s!

8-year old Emily (above) received her second adaptive bike (after outgrowing the first one), and she was ALL SMILES, as she tried it out.

Her dad, Todd explained why it will be transformative for his daughter, by saying, “Emily has a Rifton adaptive bike from Variety that she has outgrown. She loves riding her bike around the neighborhood with her brother, Sam (who also has a Rifton adaptive bike from Variety).

Emily thrives on being independent like her peers. She also cannot walk independently, so the bike helps her to get needed exercise as well.”

9-year old, Robert and his parents (above) were beaming with joy when he received his own adaptive stroller.

His mom, Amanda shared why this piece of equipment means so much, The adaptive stroller will help us tremendously. It is getting harder for us to pick Robert up and put him down, or carry him for a long distance. We hope the stroller helps us when going places where he will get tired out fast. The stroller we have is very bulky and takes up all the room in the trunk of the car.

With this adaptive stroller, it will allow us to become closer connected because we can stay together while out shopping, touring, vacationing, etc.”

8-year old, Rowan (above) also received his new adaptive bike last month, and his mom, Mandy shared,

Our hope for Rowan having this bike is that he will be able to have the same opportunity as everyone else. This bike will give us the opportunity to get out in the community more. We have seen him wanting to ride bikes with his sisters as they are learning to ride their bikes

I believe this bike will serve in many great areas of Rowan’s development physically, mentally, and socially. It will also create independence within him, which we hope will give him the self-confidence to try and ultimately to move for himself.”

We have much more to come from our 2022 Spring Tour, so stay tuned for even more reasons to smile.

Lightning Strikes Twice!

Please don’t miss these two stories from KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen, who shares powerful updates on Tyler and Mia, and their communication journey.

What’s most extraordinary is that Mia AND Tyler have gone from no voice of their own, to speaking through a communication device, to now speaking with their OWN voices.

Unfortunately, this won’t be the case for every child that receives their own device, but by equipping them with a communication device to have 24/7, My Voice® is giving kids a chance at discovering their own possibilities.

The hard truth is that kids and youth are living without a voice all around us, and it’s a hidden problem to most of society. Imagine for a moment if your child or grandchild was unable to communicate their feelings, wants, or needs at home…

I am so grateful Kristine, who is not only a terrific news reporter, but she brings her own authenticity as a parent to create awareness for this critical issue.

Last month, we got another update from Owen’s mom, Larissa, who shared, “Owen is doing so well that he doesn’t need the device anymore! Right after we got it, we were able to integrate his communication device into our dinner conversation, but then his speech took off so fast and all in one leap, and we can now (finally) understand Owen without the aid of his communication device!”

We simply don’t know what these kids are capable of accomplishing until we give them the chance or the right equipment.

Take good care,

Charlie

P.S. I hope you’ll share this news piece with your network of family, friends, and peers to bring even greater awareness to the communication needs of children and youth.

Charles P. LaVallee
Chief Executive Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity

Smile! Smile! Smile!

We always tell families who are receiving their new equipment that it is only the beginning, and these beautiful updates we recently received will surely give you a reason to smile!!

21-year old, Laila (pictured below) received her adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller from Variety more than two years ago.

Her mom, Crystal shared,“Since Laila has received her adaptive stroller, we have been able to travel and experience more of life outside of the house! She is safe in the stroller, and I as her parent can have moments of ease. The wheelchair we used before was soooo heavy and difficult to lift, so the stroller has been such a blessing for me.

We also received an adaptive bike, and Laila can exercise in OR outside of the home. Both have been a gift to Laila and our family. We have experienced events that we would not have done before.”

I especially love this photo of Laila because her adaptive stroller allows her to walk the dog safely around the neighborhood alongside her family.

A year ago, 15-year old Bridget (pictured below) received her new adaptive bike, and we were thrilled when her mom, Kathleen shared with us, “I wanted to share that Bridget’s gym teacher asked if they could use Bridget’s Bike in her gym class, while the weather is still inclement. We were happy to oblige and she is one happy girl!”

Variety’s My Bike®, My Stroller®, and My Voice® Programs are empowering kids and their families with life-changing impact happening around the clock.

We are the helpers that are listening and responding to the needs of kids with disabilities, and our programs are giving them opportunities to live life to the fullest.

“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.