Variety at Little League World Series Parade!

On Monday night, three kids got to ride their adaptive bikes in the 17th Grand Slam Parade in Williamsport, PA to kick-off the Little League World Series!

It was a magical chance for the kids to participate, be celebrated, and simply, show their abilities to the world.

Several years ago, when we first expanded into the Williamsport region, former Governor Tom Corbett (Variety Board President) immediately had the idea for the kids to ride their adaptive bikes in the LLWS parade, but it was put on hold due to the pandemic.

This idea was fully realized alongside our partners at BLaST Intermediate Unit 17, who made it possible for us to participate in the parade.

Don’t miss this brief story from FOX-56 on what a milestone it is for the kids to be includedhttps://fox56.com/news/local/adaptive-bikes-bring-joy-and-inclusion-for-local-children-at-parade-highlighting-life-changing-initiative#

Next year, we hope even more kids can be included in the Grand Slam Parade on their bikes AND strollers.

A big thanks to Governor Corbett for making the journey out to Williamsport to participate with us and enjoy the celebration.

During the parade, we got to spend time with Michelle, whose daughter, Mikki received all 3 pieces of equipment from Variety (pictured above with Governor Corbett and myself).

Michelle explained that Mikki does so great in school with her communication device, but at home, Michelle doesn’t know how to use it with her.

As a result, Michelle still doesn’t know what Mikki wants, what she needs, what she’s thinking… When I asked her if a training would be beneficial to her to utilize the device at home, she immediately said yes.

We are hopeful we can be the catalyst for trainings for Michelle, and other families, who need more training to empower their child to communicate as fully as possible.

A Great Week for KIDS!

Variety hit the road last week to present more than 20 adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers to local kids – and there’s too much joy to share!

In partnership with BLaST Intermediate Unit 17 and The Pennsylvania College of Technology, we saw a lot of smiles last Tuesday in Williamsport, Pa. – including RYLEIGH!

Ryleigh received her new PINK adaptive bike and adaptive stroller (above), and her mom, Anastasia explained,

“We have been working with Ryleigh on her standard bike, but all the motor planning involved to be able to ride a bike seems to be where she is struggling. She has gotten so frustrated with her bicycle that she won’t even try to get on it anymore…

It is heartbreaking for her, and us, when she sees her twin brother, Gregory and the other kids in the neighborhood riding bikes together and she isn’t able to ride anything with them.

Having an adaptive bike will now give her a way to feel included, give her exercise, and help her master all the skills necessary to be able to ride a bike.

Ryleigh also struggles with endurance, and being able to walk for long distances or long periods of time. I often end up carrying her in situations like these, so having an adaptive stroller will allow us to go more places and be able to give her the breaks she needs.”

In partnership with the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit 16 and the Berwick School District, we experienced even more joy last Wednesday in Berwick, Pa. – including MALANI!

After Malani received her new adaptive bike (above), her mom, Nicole wrote to us and shared,

“From the bottoms of our heart, THANK you for allowing Malani to be just like the other kids in our neighborhood. She will enjoy riding her bike with everyone else this summer, and just being a “regular kid”. The way she lit up today brought tears to my heart.”

This is a short video from Nicole capturing Malani’s pure joy – https://www.youtube.com/shorts/445mXSpod6U

Don’t miss these news stories from last week that captured some truly beautiful moments:

Thanks for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

Big Smiles for Gia

Gia’s smile was a sight to see, as she tested out her new adaptive bike! It was her second after outgrowing her first bike, and Gia’s mom, Daria explained how important it is for her daughter, by saying,

“Gia was gifted her first bike in Kindergarten and she was thrilled. Her adaptive tricycle allowed her to not only exercise, but also actively participate with her sister.

At first she needed quite a bit of help steering and paying better attention, but she is gradually improving. Our hope is that she can learn to fully steer on her own and of course safely exercise as well.

We also believe when she is able to ride the bike completely on her own she will gain a tremendous amount of confidence that will hopefully spill over into other aspects of her life.”

At the presentation, Gia’s dad, Doug told us, “This bike is another form of exercise for her! We have a treadmill at home, but the bike is much more enjoyable for Gia (and fun). She outgrew her other adaptive bike right when she was getting the hang of steering it, so when we found out we could get a second one, we instantly applied!”

Program Updates & Some Good News!

We’re thrilled to share our updated program handout and program application for 2023 that include increased income guidelines!

I hope you’ll share these with families, peers, and others in your network/community that may benefit from our mobility and communication programs (or know someone else that can).

Our programs are truly impacting kids, like Zeke and Joanna, who are all smiles below on their new adaptive bikes!

Zeke is ready to ride on his new adaptive bike (above), and prior to receiving it, his mom, Katherine told us,

“Zeke would love to have more ways to play with other kids and do more ‘regular stuff’ (as he says). He often chooses to sit out because he feels he won’t keep up. Being able to join in with bikes in the alley in a way he can do would be amazing.

His balance, endurance, strength, and coordination would make a standard bike extremely challenging, but an adaptive bike would be a great option for him. Zeke’s adaptive stroller has let us do SO much more in the community and has really eased medical appointments – we’re excited to see how he will grow from having a bike!”

Smile along with Joanna and her family (below)!

Before receiving her new set-of-wheels, Joanna’s parents, Julia and Jason shared how much this new bike means, by saying,

“Joanna has an older brother and two younger sisters. Her sisters are learning how to ride independently, and she wants to be able to ride with them. We’ve tried several different tricycles, but haven’t found one that works efficiently for her. An adaptive bike that is fitted just for her will not only help her continue to gain strength but also confidence and independence, while joining her siblings in an activity that they love.”

Both bikes for Zeke and Joanna were generously sponsored via funds raised by Al’s Bike Drive, which sponsored 10 bikes altogether!!

Family Experiences Are Now Possible

An adaptive stroller has an immediate impact for every family, and it’s amazing to hear how it opens up new worlds for kids and their families – like Matteo.

Last March, 8-year-old Matteo received his new adaptive stroller (after already receiving his new bike).

Well, his mom Marie joyfully shared an experience that the stroller made possible,

“Thanks to Matteo’s special stroller, we were able to take a trip to Niagara Falls!! We walked around Goat Island with no issues, and I can’t thank you enough for making this possible.”

Prior to receiving an adaptive stroller, Matteo and his family were greatly limited in what they could do, together. Matteo’s Occupational Therapist, Theresa explained,

Matteo has a history of running from his parents while shopping and in parking lots, putting him at risk of injury. Because of this, his family avoids any recreational activities in more crowded places that they would otherwise like to enjoy together.

An adaptive stroller will significantly improve the family’s participation within their community by improving safety and mobility on family outing.”

You can’t fully see Matteo’s joy above, as he gazes towards Niagara Falls, but you can definitely see him smile in this short video – riding his adaptive bike alongside his family!

Click the image above to watch Matteo riding his bike!

Variety Kids on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood!

With the greatest excitement, we wanted to share a recent episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids – featuring Variety kids Sam, Emily, and Sadie riding their adaptive bikes, and Sadie’s sister, Hadley on her two-wheeled bike.

Fred Rogers certainly would have loved seeing kids with special needs being included and riding their adaptive bikes for “the world” to celebrate.

Sam, Emily, Sadie, and Hadley are featured at the 11-minute mark of the episode, and you can watch it now by clicking this link!

Being on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood creates a multitude of visibility – not only by educating others on an adaptive bike, but by showing the world what these extraordinary kids can do.

We hope you’ll take a minute to share the episode with your networks, especially to celebrate Sam, Emily, Sadie, and Hadley!

Jaylen & Matthew Got Back Independence

With their own adaptive bikes, Jaylen and Matthew got back some independence!

Jaylen is all smiles above on her new PINK adaptive bike, and her mom, Christina put into words what it means,

“For my daughter to receive an adaptive bike means she gets some of her independence back. Jaylen is almost 12 years old now, but when she was 4, she was in a terrible car accident in which she suffered brain damage.

Jaylen never got the chance to learn how to ride a bike before her injury, and because of her injury, she is not able to operate a regular bike. So, an adaptive bike will be amazing for her!

We all have bikes in our home – me, her mother, her stepdad, and two brothers, so we can’t wait to all be able to ride bikes together as a family!”

Matthew is ready-to-ride his new RED adaptive bike above, but his mom, Shirley explained why it’s so important,

“Matthew has been working so hard since his surgery in 2019 to be able to do all the activities he was able to do before the surgery.

Before, he loved riding his bike on all the trails in our area, and he has been unable to do so since 2019. This special bike will hopefully give him the confidence and stability to enjoy bike riding again with us and his friends!”

As always, thank you all so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

“It’s a joy to watch kids being kids!”

End this year with a smile by reading what an adaptive bike has meant for Reese, who was smiling from ear-to-ear when she received her second bike!

Reese’s mom, Jamie put into words what an adaptive bike has meant,

“We struggle with weight and the pandemic has been a challenge for us, as we haven’t had our regular routines of going out and doing regular organized activities.

Bike riding though, is one form of exercise she is willing to do and enjoys. We currently go for walks but for any kind of distance she requires the wheelchair which kind of defeats the purpose of getting activity in.

With the bike, we have the opportunity to get her some additional activity in the evenings, so we can both work together on our health goals… and also have fun while doing it!

Several of Reese’s friends from school have adaptive bikes as well, and a group of 3 or 4 plan outings (with their parents) to ride bikes on trails as a group!

Trust me, the social impact of having an adaptive bike provides an incredibly powerful inducement to get the kids outside, and to also push hard, as they race each other and have the fun that typical kids experience on their bikes.

It’s a joy to watch and experience kids being kids, especially when they don’t always have that opportunity due to their physical circumstances.”

As always, thank you all so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

Mobility Presentation at Covestro – December 12, 2022

As the first snow of 2022 fell on Monday, Dec. 12, Variety’s kids were warm and joyful inside Covestro’s facility as they received bikes their new bikes and strollers through Variety’s My Bike® and My Stroller® programs. Whether it be their first or second time, the kids were ecstatic to try out their shiny, new adaptive equipment.

Gia is all smiles on her new bike – photo by JJ LaBella.

Gia received her second bike at the presentation, and her parents expressed how far she had come in the time she had her old one.

Daria said, “She can steer on her own in therapy. I think there was a lot going on for her and she was overwhelmed today, so it was harder for her to focus on steering.”

Gia was right behind Mike Schneck, Variety Board Chairman, in the bike parade, and gained on him quickly, though she didn’t have recent practice outside of therapy because she had grown out of her old one.

Daria said, “We’re getting this second one because she outgrew her first one. There’s a bigger one at PT (physical therapy), but she hasn’t ridden at home since she outgrew her old one.”

Gia’s father, Doug , explained that he’s glad to get Gia another bike for at-home riding because he hopes it will make exercise more appealing.

“It’s another form of exercise. It’s hard to get her to exercise, so this will be great,” Doug said, “We have a treadmill at home, but the bike is more enjoyable for her.”

Doug also expressed how happy he was to have another one at home for Gia to ride.

Doug said, “she outgrew her other one right when she was getting the hang of steering it, so when we found out that we could get another one, we applied immediately.”

Variety gives kids the ability to have a lifetime of riding as they can apply for a second bike at least three years after they received their first one. As long as families and kids still meet Variety’s requirements, the kids are eligible for two pieces of the same equipment!

For other kids at the program, it was their first piece of adaptive equipment from Variety, and the parents talked about how this new way of getting around will impact their child’s and family’s lives.

Pictured above is Cristobal testing out his new stroller!

Cristobal had never received equipment from Variety before, but on Monday he was receiving both a stroller and a bike. His mom, Maria  explained how she expects both pieces of equipment to positively impact Cristobal’s life.

“Cristobal doesn’t like to walk long distances, so I bought him another stroller from the store, but his legs still touched the ground. It was a risk for his legs to hang like that,” Maria explained, “With the bike, I’m hoping that it will help exercise his legs and help him to walk longer distances.”

She hopes that the bike will enable Cristobal to get out into the community for longer periods of time, but she has other expectations for the stroller. She hopes that he My Stroller® program will help to get Cristobal out into the community and do it safely.

Leon also hopes to use it to take Cristobal and the rest of the family to church. She was most appreciative that she could apply for both the Stroller and the Bike at the same time.

Leon explained, “I felt very blessed that we could receive both because I thought we would have to choose.”

Anyone who fits the criteria for equipment can apply for one or all three of the programs that Variety has.

Pictured above – Carleigh testing out her new stroller.

Carleigh also received a stroller from Variety on Monday. While she had an adaptive stroller before, it was not one provided by Variety.

Her mom, Melissia , explained that the stroller will provide opportunities for Carleigh to experience the world safely again. Carleigh is too big for strollers made for typical children, and though the family has tried multiple strollers, they are all too easy for Carleigh to tip.

“She outgrew her stroller and was tipping them,” Melissia explained. “Without this program, I wouldn’t be able to do our day to day. It was either stay at home or put her at risk.”

Melissa shared the plans they had following the presentation and receiving the new equipment.

Melissa said, “We’re going to pick up her siblings and we’re heading to the grocery store after this!”

Variety aims to help kids be kids, and with Carleigh’s new equipment, she can get out into the community like her brothers and sisters!

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.