Giggles, Gowns, & Great Fun for Reagan!

Reagan, age 10 received her 2nd adaptive bike at Variety’s 2018 Golf Invitational on Monday, June 4th, and she’s pictured “all thumbs up” in the photo below. Previously, she received an adaptive stroller and communication device through Variety.

Reagan is giving “thumbs up” on her new bike!

Recently, we received an update from Reagan’s mom, Kim, who really put into perspective the impact and experiences that Variety’s equipment are providing to our kids and their entire family.

Kim wrote,

“I wanted to drop you a note to share 2 exciting things with you…

  1. Reagan got on her new, blue bike the day after the presentation and rode with her sister for a LONG time and giggled the whole time. Her sister would ride down the road and then turn around and ride toward her and they would high five each other in passing. Reagan found that hilarious! What a wonderful experience for sisters to have that is ALL because of this adaptive bike program and the wonderful staff at Variety!! Her grandparents just moved to a new house with a great alley that is quiet and great for riding with all 4 of her cousins this Summer.

  2. Reagan competed in her 1st pageant for children with special needs. There were 8 contestants (group photo below). She modeled a gown and blew kisses to the crowd, performed a dance number to “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift, and answered questions on stage USING HER COMMUNICATION DEVICE!!!  She answered basic info about herself AND answered questions about what she would do this Summer!!”
Reagan shows off her device at the pageant.

Kim’s e-mail grounds us in why we do what we do every day for these amazing kids- giving kids like Reagan a chance to giggle with her sister, wear a gown and showcase her voice in a beauty pageant, and look forward to a summer of fun – just like any other child.

Reagan poses with the other contestants from the pageant.

Monday Motivation: Parade at IU8

MONDAY MOTIVATION: Last Friday, May 11th, 18 kids with disabilities received an adaptive bike, adaptive stroller, and/or communication device through Variety’s programs at Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8! Here’s a glimpse at our PARADE!

Janessa Shared Her “New Voice” Before 15 Kids Received Equipment!

On Friday, March 23rd, Variety presented life-changing equipment at the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) to 15 local kids with disabilities with each piece individually tailored to meet their needs.

Prior to our presentation, Janessa, age 11 kicked things off by demonstrating how she uses her communication device – her new voice – that she received from Variety last November.

Janessa is pictured with her mom and Variety’s CEO.

Since receiving her device, Janessa has been featured in two television spots through Highmark’s Living Proof campaign, one in which she uses her device to talk with her doctor for the first time, and then another to order food at a restaurant for the first time.

One of the most meaningful moments of the event was hearing Janessa’s mom, Julie update us on the progress and impact that has taken place for Janessa, and ultimately, her entire family since receiving her device (her new voice) – click below.

To give you even more to smile about, thanks to Janessa, three of her classmates received communication devices as well, including Ryan, age 9, who was more than a little excited.

Ryan is pictured above with his mom holding his new voice!

His mother, Monique gave voice to how life-changing this device would be by saying,

“Ryan’s greatest ability is his love of reaching out to people and attempting to communicate his wants and needs. He often launches into very long and animated stories complete with hand gestures and big laughs. Unfortunately, his educators, classmates, and many loved ones cannot understand him because they are his own made up words and not real words.

Ryan’s life would improve exponentially with a communication device. As a parent, its heartbreaking to see this deficit. We truly believe a communication device along with hard work on our part, Ryan’s enthusiasm and this device could change his entire social, educational, and emotional lifestyle.”

The March 23rd presentation also featured a terrific “equipment parade” with cheers of celebration that I’m sure you’ll enjoy – click here to watch for yourself.

A Day to Remember in West Virginia

To our knowledge, history was made yesterday in Morgantown, West Virginia for kids with disabilities.

In one afternoon, Variety hosted the largest presentation of adaptive equipment for children with disabilities with 45 kids receiving equipment (worth more than $70,000) – including 26 adaptive bikes, 8 adaptive strollers, and 11 communication devices.

Above is a photo from the Dominion Post that appeared on the front page of The Dominion Post!

As we have all come to experience, the kids were truly the stars of the show, like Deklan, age 7, who couldn’t have been more excited as he continually gave “thumbs up” in response to getting his brand new blue adaptive bike!

Deklan gives two thumbs with pride standing next to his new blue bike!

His mother, Tiffany said with tears,

“Deklan was born at 24 weeks weighing 1lb, 3 oz. and spent close to six months in the NICU. He’s had 5 eye surgeries, a heart surgery, blood transfusions, and he was on oxygen for the first year of his life… he’s been through a lot with many of his surgeries being lifesaving. However, today is a milestone day for Deklan, as he will have his own bike and experience the freedom of riding it, and gain the confidence and the security that he needs to do so on his own.”

Another highlight yesterday was two teenagers, Hannah and Macey, who are best friends.

They did not know until they arrived at the presentation and saw each other that they were both receiving an adaptive bike of their own.

Pictured above is Hannah and Macey – all smiles!

Hannah received a blue bike and Macey a pink one, and they spent the afternoon jumping up and down with joy, hugging each other, screaming with excitement, and telling their parents about all the bike riding they were going to do together. They even got to enjoy the bike parade together.

I wish everyone could have been there to see this phenomenal moment of joy that these two best friends shared – we are so fortunate to be a part of it these beautiful moments.

Check out these three news pieces that came from this beautiful day.

Can you help us spread the word?

Variety – the Children’s Charity of Pittsburgh is striving to identify & serve every eligible child that could benefit from its adaptive equipment programs.

Do you know of any children with disabilities that could benefit from an adaptive bike, adaptive stroller, and/or communication device? Variety is currently serving kids in 54 counties in Pa. & WV.

These programs are life changing for kids & their families, but Variety needs help with spreading the word, so no family misses out on these opportunities.

Visit www.varietypittsburgh.org or call their office at 724-933-0460 to learn more or apply. These programs are no cost to eligible families, and you can apply for one, two, or all three programs if your child can benefit!

Madon is all smiles on his new blue bike!
Destiny is feeling comfy in her new adaptive stroller!
All smiles holding his new device – his new voice!

Reeve Foundation Gives Hope

Variety has been a proud recipient from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to help children with disabilities, specifically children living with paralysis.

Their support began in 2015 with a gift of $7,500 for adaptive bikes through Variety’s “My Bike” Program, and then more recently, Variety received a gift of $6,000 towards adaptive strollers through Variety’s “My Stroller” Program.

Between these two generous gifts, Variety was able to impact the lives of 9 children who now have increased mobility, freedom, and can live a full fulfilled life.

These are kids like Alaina, age 8, who was one of the 5 adaptive bikes sponsored by the Reeve Foundation.

Alaina is pictured above “all smiles” with her parents after receiving her new bike!

Alaina’s mother gave voice to the impact of this gift by saying, “We tried a traditional bike, but she was never successful. When we rode bikes as a family, she was confined to a child’s seat.”

Before receiving her adaptive bike, Alaina was often left out and left behind when her family would ride bikes together.  With her new adaptive bike, Alaina can ride alongside her family.

After watching her daughter ride, Christy said, “Now she can ride a bike with her brothers – just like a normal kid.”

The impact might seem simple, but to Alaina and her family, it is life-changing. These are milestones that every child should experience – riding bikes with friends, siblings, and just being able to have fun.

Variety is so grateful to the support of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to help us, help more kids.

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation logo.

“I Got Pied for a New Ride!”

“I got pied for a new ride!”

This was the slogan used for a recent fundraising campaign coordinated between the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Housing, Food Services, and Panther Central, and IUOE Local 95 members.

The campaign’s great success to raise funds for a handful of adaptive bikes was celebrated on Tuesday, June 6th when several of the University’s executives got pied, as was promised by Assistant Vice Chancellor of Business, Jim Earle one year ago.

Assistant Vice Chancellor Jim Earle is pictured above getting pied by bike recipient, Gabby.

In total, Variety presented 8 adaptive bikes during the June 6th presentation that was held at the University of Pittsburgh. It included a full house of staff attendees and others from the community to watch the pieing event and cheer on the kids, who took their inaugural ride on their new bikes!

One of the bike recipients was Garrett, who also received an adaptive stroller through Variety in December 2016. His mother, Laurel gave voice to the incredible impact that the stroller has had on their family since receiving it.

Garrett is pictured above with his grandma and mom on his new adaptive bike!

She said, “This stroller has meant so much to our family. Garret is getting heavier and is very hard to transport. Right now, I’m a single mom and it has basically allowed us to leave the house.

This has helped us so much with just being able to go get ice cream, go for walks because I don’t know if you know that wheelchairs are very, very heavy.

He loves it too because he can move himself, which he can’t really do too much on his own. We dance with the stroller and do so much with it, and it’s just the best gift that we’ve had. Ever since we got it, we’ve gone to do a lot more things, we’ve got to explore, and it’s even helping him with range of motion with his arms, and all kinds of things that we couldn’t do before.

It has changed our lives.”

Garrett’s grandmother, also named Laurel, highlighted what the stroller has meant for her, “I can’t push the wheelchair. We even have a ramp for the house, but I can’t get the wheelchair in and out. The stroller I can easily get in and out, so when I’m watching Garrett, we can go for walks, we can go out in the yard… it’s just a lot of freedom.

Variety could not be more grateful to everyone who made this memorable event possible, and gave freedom to 8 more kids at the start of the summer season!

These Smiles Will “Knock Your Socks Off”

These smiles will “knock your socks off”, as kids parade for the first time in their adaptive bikes & adaptive strollers at the Capital Area Intermediate Unit on Wednesday, May 31, 2017!  

Additionally, Variety presented two communication devices to local children, and fit more kids for their adaptive bikes (this is the last step in the application process before ordering the bike). It was truly a beautiful day!

Spring Kicks Off for 30+ Kids!

April has been one exciting month for us with three presentations impacting more than 30 kids from 10 counties!

On Wednesday, April 5th, Variety presented equipment with the Cambria County Commissioners and AFSCME (who sponsored one adaptive bike during the presentation).

The kids are pictured above on their new adaptive bikes / adaptive strollers with Cambria Co. Commissioner President Tom Chernisky, who led the parade on a bike.

On Tuesday, April 11th, Variety presented equipment with the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV and their staff!

Bobby is pictured above on his new green bike with his parents and MIU IV Executive Director, Dr. Wayde Killmeyer.

On Thursday, April 13th, Variety presented equipment with AHN’s Allegheny General Hospital and more than 100 members of their staff. During the event, we were presented with a check by Dr. George Gabriel the AGH Medical Staff to sponsor an adaptive bike for Kody (seen below).

Kody is all smiles on his new bike with AGH’s Duke Rupert and Dr. George Gabriel, his twin sister Krissy, and parents Kim and Chad.

Tracey Shea-Derby, mother of Tyler, a child who was given an adaptive bike (at AGH), explained the importance of the day: “It means having a chance to be included as well as providing an opportunity for others to see what he can do instead of what he can’t.”

Variety is still seeking to identify every single eligible child that could benefit from an adaptive bike, adaptive stroller, and / or a communication device. Any help in spreading the word in your local community would be incredible!

It has an immediate impact.

An adaptive stroller has an immediate impact for families, it is a basic and fundamental need for getting around, and it allows kids with disabilities to be mobile in ways they could not before.

Destiny can’t hold back her excitement as she tries out her new adaptive stroller!

Destiny received her new adaptive stroller through Variety’s “My Stroller” Program, and as you can see, she was all smiles!

For Destiny (and so many children like her), this stroller will be her primary method of mobility on a daily basis. Her mother, Stephanie explained that she will be applying for a power wheelchair, but it will need to be kept at school because they do not have a vehicle to transport it. Destiny also has an older stroller, but it needs to be repaired.

“This new stroller will be her only method of getting around,” said Stephanie.

The smile on her face says it all.

At Variety, we could not accomplish these moments without the support and time of so many people throughout the community, and we thank you!