Liam’s Summer Adventures w/ Adaptive Stroller!

“I wanted to make sure that we shared how absolutely life-changing Liam’s adaptive stroller has been for our family, and I wanted to share photos from our adventures this summer!

The stroller has opened up opportunities for us that I hadn’t even anticipated… We have been able to go on outings as family and feel secure in the fact that Liam is safe and comfortable.

We are now able to eat at restaurants as a family, go on walks as a family, and Liam EVEN went fishing for the first time in his life because of his stroller!

Most people don’t consider the isolation that special needs families go through, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for improving not only Liam’s life, but mine too.

From Liam and our entire family, we thank you!!”

KDKA News Highlights Elopement & Impact of Stroller

In terms of having an immediate impact on a child’s life, and the lives of their whole family, an adaptive stroller has been critical, especially for kids with elopement issues.

However, the need for this equipment, as well as the impact it can have are invisible to the majority of us – e.g. this isn’t your typical toddler stroller.

Don’t miss this transformative news story by KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen that features Kristin, mother of Kolton, who intimately shares the impact of an adaptive stroller with us all.

Pittsburgh-area family credits charity with life-changing device – click the link to watch and share.

The story also features Dr. Alan Kohrt, former Board Member, American Academy of Pediatrics, who provided striking data and expertise on kids with elopement issues (see below).

Thank you for being a part of the Variety community, where IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

P.S. You can help us spread the word that My Stroller exists by sharing this story with your network – https://www.cbsnews.com/pittsburgh/news/variety-the-childrens-charity-pittsburgh-life-changing-devices/

Joey Experienced Fall w/ Adaptive Stroller

Amanda recently detailed how her son’s adaptive stroller ensured that Joey didn’t miss out on experiencing his favorite time of the year, the FALL!

Amanda began by explaining some of the heart break along Joey’s journey, but the ending is truly all smiles for their whole family – don’t miss reading to the end.

We’re so grateful to Amanda, who shared with us,

Halloween, or maybe just everything ‘Fall’ related, has always been Joey’s favorite time of the year!

He loves the pumpkin patch, corn mazes, apple picking, leaf covered trails, etc.

However, Joey was diagnosed with brain cancer at 5, and his life -saving treatments affected his ability to walk.

Although, he is making great strides with rehabilitation, it’s a very long journey and Joey continues to remain wheelchair-bound at 7 years old.

We tried a simple pumpkin patch last year, with Mom bearing the brunt of the piggy back rides! Fortunately for Joey, he continues to grow as a normal child would. Unfortunately for mom, Joey is heavy!!

Honestly, I didn’t think we would ever be able to navigate Joey’s favorite season/holiday again.

Fall Festivals, especially in hilly Western PA, just aren’t wheelchair friendly beyond the farmer markets…..

We cannot thank you enough for Joey’s stroller that he received in August!

We’ve been to fields, on gravel, and even walked to the local pond with his class.

Today, we ventured to a Fall Festival!!”

Joey’s mom further explained why an adaptive stroller impacts their entire family, by saying,

“Joey’s adaptive stroller helps us navigate terrain that is more difficult for his wheelchair. It allows Joey to attend his brother’s sporting events easier, since many soccer fields are difficult for wheelchairs.

In addition, the stroller helps his grandparents take him places, since the stroller is easier for lifting into their vehicles, and it can fit!

The stroller also helps Joey’s older brother navigate Joey to fun places and not always have to rely on mom and dad to do the pushing!”

With more than 100 applications in-process for kids that need their own adaptive stroller, your support has never been greater for this program.

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.

“My son elopes all the time…”

Our work truly revolves around experiencing each family’s needs, fears, and daily challenges first-hand.

For instance, we often hear about kids that are “elopers” or runners, and have no awareness of their own safety or surroundings – forcing many families to be trapped inside their houses out of fear because they don’t have a way to keep their child safe.

We fully take in each family’s stories, and they are the real heroes in this work, but we are fortunate provide something tangible to help make life easier, like an adaptive stroller!

Recent recipient Declan is pictured above in his new adaptive stroller, and to fully take in how much the equipment means, please read what his mom, Petra shared,

My son, Declan, is 5 years old and has a tendency to elope all the time, and it is very hard to keep him contained.

He likes to run off and keep running.

He has even escaped our home before, and we now have to keep a clamshell on all the outside door knobs.

When we are out and about, he walks with me while I hold his hands, but he still often runs off very quickly.

It has often been hard to go on walks, especially in places with heavy traffic or lots of people.

He’s too big for any typical stroller, so I’ve been searching for some type of stroller that fits him and can keep him safe/comfortable.

His therapist introduced me the My Stroller Program, and I thought… how perfect this equipment will be.”

With Declan’s new adaptive stroller, he will be able to go anywhere in the community and be safe!!

A Life-Changing Partnership!

We are thrilled to share this video that highlights our newly formed partnership with Z&M Harley-Davidson in Greensburg!

Travis (pictured below) was the first of many youngsters that will have their lives transformed by our partnership with Z&M, who have a goal of sponsoring 20 more pieces of equipment this year.

Before receiving his new bike, Travis’ mom, Kelly shared this with us,

“Z&M is the first place Travis met the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, and his dad, Ed bought a Harley there. So, it is an important place for him and getting his adaptive bike will make him feel special! With the adaptive bike, Travis will now have his own ‘set-of-wheels’ like his dad.

Travis will finally have the freedom to ride bikes alongside his little sister. This bike will give our whole family chances to spend more quality time together outdoors, so we’re all looking forward to it! The bike will make him feel free and special and in control.”

We were so grateful to the Latrobe Bulletin for capturing all the joy of this partnership in this article, so don’t miss reading it!

little things are the big things

A few weeks ago, we met 6-year-old, Morgan and her mom, Janae, as we presented Morgan with her own adaptive stroller!!

This very special mom-daughter duo reminded us not to take my life for granted, but to live life and take every day with gratitude, especially the little moments.

At the presentation, Janae looked us in the eyes with all the emotion you can imagine, and she simply said, “Now, we won’t be stuck at home anymore...

And, because they had an adaptive stroller, Janae and Morgan were able to be “on-the-go” immediately after leaving the presentation, as Janae shared with us below!

Janae joyfully shared the above photo and these words,

“Morgan and I had a wonderful, stress-free time in Lowe’s after the presentation. We purchased a few plants for the house, and tomato seeds because we love to grow Morgan’s favorite vegetable. We even picked paint swatches for a room make over.

After that we went to BJ’S and then our last stop was McDonald’s. Thank you so much again for this gift… I have been crying tears of joy all day!”

At the presentation, Jane spoke very openly as she has 4 children, 3 of which are on the spectrum, but because Morgan has no safety awareness, she has had to miss out on a lot of things.

Janae had to recently miss one of her son’s big high school sports moments because she couldn’t take Morgan there safely. Now, she doesn’t have to miss anything!

These two helped us realize how often we take for granted that we can “run out” to the store for food or medicine or an emergency, but for Janae and Morgan, it was impossible until they got an adaptive stroller.

Let’s all remember that small moments can change our lives the most, so take on every day with gratitude.

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!!