Noah-On-The-GO

Noah is ON-THE-GO now that he has his own adaptive bike AND adaptive stroller from Variety, and we love the update below that his mom sent me! We hope it makes you smile.

Noah’s mom, Breanne shared,

“My son Noah has received an adaptive bike and adaptive stroller through Variety! We got the bike for Noah, so he can get exercise and enjoy the outdoors (just like us).

Noah loves his bike, and each year as he gets stronger, he’s able to peddle better and better!

We have even had Noah in two local kids bike races! People love cheering on Noah at these events.

I love that he can join his peers in these exciting events, but I also love that people are getting exposed to children like Noah. I hear the kids ask their parents questions about Noah’s bike, and the other parents always say how cool his bike is!

We asked for an adaptive stroller for safety reasons because Noah (like many kids) is an eloper.

Even walking through a parking lot can be scary. Noah will just take off at a moment’s notice, and he doesn’t understand cars or strangers – but now, the stroller keeps him safe.

He is also starting to get to be too big to sit in the cart seats. So, this stroller helps me keep him close by when shopping, and still allows him to come with me as we enjoy that experience together.

I am very grateful that the Variety program offers these to our families, so we can continue to live out in the community as a whole family.”

Variety’s work is truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

P.S. ICYMI – Help to share and support Variety’s KOTG Mobility Campaign, a critical need to fund more adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers for kids, who deserve to be on-the-go.

The Entire Family Is Impacted Immediately by My Stroller®

From the very first push, an adaptive stroller creates a life-changing impact.

This light-weight equipment is giving families the chance to participate in the community safely AND comfortably. It is allowing families to be “on-the-go” and truly live life to the fullest… together!

Two stroller recipients, who are ready to GO!

I had no idea how transformative an adaptive stroller would be for our families when Variety began its My Stroller® Program, so here is a quick overview to bring you more into their lives.

The adaptive stroller only weighs 29-pounds, and it conveniently folds up like a toddler’s “umbrella stroller” to easily fit in a car trunk.

As a comparison, a power-wheelchair (which many of our kids also use and need) can weigh 100’s of pounds and can’t be broken down easily. So, many families have to take apart the wheelchair every time they want to take their child in the car.

The adaptive stroller gives families the ability to be more “on-the-go” when things come up unexpectedly and make it easier for them to participate in the community.

Adaptive strollers also provide incredible safely, and especially for kids / youth that run off, or away when in the community, this equipment makes a world of difference.

Parents, siblings, and even grandparents have highlighted these details to me to help explain why an adaptive stroller makes such a dramatic difference in all their lives.

Variety’s My Stroller Program provides eligible children with disabilities (ages 3 through 21) with their own adaptive stroller (i.e., a Kid Kart Mighty Lite) at no cost to the family.

These kids are looking super comfy in their new strollers!

You can be a part of making a difference today by supporting Variety’s My Stroller Program.

Any donation truly helps, as we strive to give kids and their families mobility equipment that will let them thrive!

For kids like, Jace (pictured below), receiving an adaptive stroller is transformative, and his mom, Kim shared WHY it is so important, by saying,

Jace is pictured in his new adaptive stroller!

“I cannot take Jace, as well as his 3-year-old typical brother out together because if one of them gets away from me, I can’t leave the other to chase them. It is not just exhausting, it is scary.

Jace is also getting too heavy to lift, so the stroller enables us to go out and participate in the community, and to no longer be isolated at home.”

Variety’s work is certainly not the solution to all of life’s problems, but we feel privileged to provide such life-changing equipment to these extraordinary kids and their families.

At Variety, we are all about HELPING KIDS, BE KIDS!

Take good care,

Charlie

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

P.S. For families that are interested in an adaptive stroller (or an adaptive bike and/or communication device), please visit Variety’s website (www.varietypittsburgh.org/applynow)  to learn more about the program eligibility and/or to apply. If you have questions or need help, please contact Variety at (724) 933-0460 or at info@varietypittsburgh.org.

It Opens A New World for Ava and Aubree

And for these two sisters, it is only the beginning…

Twin sisters, Ava and Aubree each received their own adaptive bikes AND adaptive strollers from Variety (pictured above on their new bikes), but receiving the equipment was only the beginning for them and their family.

Their mom, Kelsey shared how much they loved their new bikes, by saying,

“We brought their bikes inside last night and set them up on the stationary stands. Ava and Aubree were riding them until bedtime, and then went straight to them as soon as they woke up!”

Kelsey really got to the heart of how life-changing the strollers are when she shared,These strollers make it possible to take the girls places. We want them to be as safe as possible, but also be able to go to events/outings just like typical kids can.

We’ve been able to go to the zoo twice this year, and we even bought a membership, which we would have never done if not for these strollers. So… there are no words to thank you all enough.”

Over the last year, Variety’s impact has been truly remarkable and historic for our small organization, and that impact isn’t slowing down.

For many months now, we have been receiving more than 30 applications per week, and by the end of June, we are scheduled to present another 85-100 pieces of adaptive equipment!

However, right now, we desperately need to raise funds for our My Bike® and My Stroller® Programs. We are writing to ask you to join us in a Mobility Campaign to make sure no child has to wait on their adaptive bike or stroller.

If you are able to help, we would greatly appreciate it. These kids wait on so many things, so it is my hope that we will not need a waiting list at all.

You can give a donation online for My Bike or My Stroller, or use the attached donation form to give by mail.

Truly, any amount will make a difference because if we all give some, there is no stopping how many more kids we can impact, TOGETHER!

Alessia Marks #1,000 During Pandemic!

I hope you’re sitting down because we have some very positive news that might just knock your socks off!

Last month, we presented three-year-old Alessia with her new adaptive bike.

Not only was it a beautiful pink bike, but it was the 1,000th piece of mobility or communication equipment that we’ve presented to kids during the pandemic!

In total, we have presented 1,062 pieces of life-changing equipment during the pandemic (worth more than $1.5 million), and that number goes up almost daily!

Our families tell us constantly how critical this equipment is for their children, and even more so during the pandemic.

Just few days after receiving her new bike, Alessia’s mom sent the below photo, and shared, “Alessia loves her bike, and she has been riding her bike in the house on the stationary stand provided by Variety! She has her baby in the back and her MP3 player and headphones clipped on, and she rides for hours!”

1,062 is our new favorite number. It makes us smile for the kids and their families, and it makes us think of YOU and what we have accomplished together.

We sincerely appreciate each of you for helping to make such incredible impact possible because IT’S ALL FOR THE KIDS!

P.S. You can see a few more photos of Alessia from the day she received her new bike in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article!

Every Child Deserves A Voice 24/7

Have you communicated with someone today?

The reality for many of our kids is that they are living without a voice, and are not able to communicate their needs, wants, or feelings. Just imagine that for a second.

That’s why I’m so proud that our My Voice® Program is giving kids a tool to communicate 24/7 because communication is vital to daily life.

LET’S PAUSE & SMILE FOR BEN!

“I can already tell that it’s going to be a game changer for all of us.” That’s what Susan shared a couple months after her son, Ben received his new communication device (or talker)!

Susan then described a time when Ben used his talker to tell her, “I’m tired,” which she thought was odd at the time because he never expressed that feeling before, but he ended up sound asleep by 6:30pm and he slept THE WHOLE NIGHT.

Susan said, He must have been tired! But I was so floored and touched and borderline emotional that he expressed that to me.”

LET’S ALSO SMILE FOR KEVIN!!

Kevin’s mom, LaVelle shared one very special moment that happened,

“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.”

Lavelle shared another experience, “Kevin indicated that he needed to go potty with sign language. I kind of dismissed it, but he made it very clear using his talker that he had to go potty now!…

I love that I can now communicate with my son, but more importantly, he can communicate with me!”

These kids are so special, and some just need a way to connect and let people connect with them, and My Voice is giving them that opportunity.

Just Some GOOD NEWS

Some good news to bring a smile to your faces.

We partnered with the incredible teams at Covestro and Blackburn’s this past Tuesday to distribute 25 adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers to kids with disabilities!

I hope you’ll take a moment to share in the joy of the day by watching this 40-second piece by KDKA-TVhttps://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/10/28/adaptive-bicycle-charity-donation/.

CARTER’S NEW ADAPTIVE BIKE!

Pictured above is Carter when he got fit for his bike (left) and him on his new lime green bike (right)!

When 8-year old Carter was fit for an adaptive bike in September and trialed one, his mom Lisa shared, After we got him at 5 months of age, we finally got a diagnosis of his condition and we were told that he would not walk or talk… Well, here he is today riding a bike!!!  I’ve never seen him peddle before. This is awesome that he can do it, and now he will be able to go on bike rides with the family.”

Now, Carter is ready for ALL the family bike rides, memories, and fun!

LEVI’S NEW ADAPTIVE STROLLER!

Levi is pictured above in his new stroller!

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and for Levi’s family, they found a way to make it to Tuesday’s presentation from Wheeling, WV to receive Levi’s new adaptive stroller!

The stroller will help to keep Levi safe because he is an “escape artist”, as his dad, Harry mentioned at the presentation. When the family goes out into the community, they won’t have to worry about keeping Levi safe.

To describe it further, Levi’s mom, Kathy explained, I’m unable to walk with Levi because of my health issues, but beyond that, no one else can either. He slips out of your hand in a blink of an eye and runs, FAST. He has already gotten out from our house.”

HANNAH’S NEW ADAPTIVE BIKE!

Hannah is pictured with her family – all smiles on her new bike!

For 5-year old Hannah, an adaptive bike will let her experience something fun with her siblings! Her mom, Lisa put into words what this bike would mean, Hannah has 3 siblings, and she loves to go outside with them. They ride bike and scooters with the other kids in the neighborhood, and Hannah would have so much fun if she could follow along and do the same!

She ends up frustrated when the bike won’t move for her, and when we try to push it, her feet get caught under the pedals, so an adaptive bike would be amazing for her!

Stay tuned for more good news to come soon!

It’s A BIG DEAL for Mia & Jayla

A MAJOR UPDATE ON MIA!

Mia is pictured above with her device and favorite book!

A few weeks ago, Mia’s mom, Anita shared this exciting update, “I wanted to check in and share some Mia progress, from a proud Mommy. In less than two years, Mia went from nonverbal to reading. We hope this gives you inspiration to keep doing what you’re doing because it all started with a device to give her language.”

DOES IT GET ANY BETTER?

Anita went even further to share a video of Mia showing off her reading skills, and we hope that you can take in how big this is for Mia and her family!

Click here to watch Mia reading Peppa Pig’s “The Best Pet”… with her OWN VOICE!

A BIG MOMENT FOR JAYLA!

Jayla is pictured above – taking her device everywhere!

Having a voice of her own is also a big deal for Jayla and her family. Before receiving her new communication device at the beginning of October, Jayla’s mom, Stephanie explained what it would mean, “This would make a huge impact on our family. We are a low income family with 4 kids, and my husband, who supports the household is a cancer patient currently in remission. We desperately need our little girl to have a voice to help her with the frustration and disappointment of not being understood. It would mean the world to us.”

Two weeks after Jayla received her new voice, Stephanie wrote to us on Facebook with the photos above and this update, “Thank you so much! Jayla is so excited to have her voice! She couldn’t wait to show her friends she can talk to them now!”

For Mia and Jayla, having a communication device is a really big deal. It gives them a voice and another tool in their toolbox to live life to the fullest.

A Voice Means Everything In A Pandemic

A Pandemic Is Scary. Even Scarier Without A Voice.

The pandemic has caused a lot of changes, especially to the way Variety reaches eligible kids and distributes equipment. However, as soon as these changes needed to be implemented in March, we got to work and we haven’t stopped since, especially to provide kids with a voice.

I hope you can take a few moments to read some recent stories of how we are changing the lives of our kids and their families through THE GIFT OF COMMUNICATION!

Presley’s New Voice

Presley and her dad pictured above.

Presley’s family told us what this device would mean, A communication device will help Presley by aiding her to express her needs more clearly and helping our family to better understand her so that we may meet these needs to the best of our ability. We also feel that the device will help Presley learn new vocabulary and apply it in situations in which she might otherwise not be able to.”

John Immediately Asked For A Drink!

John and his mom pictured above.

His SLP, Lucy shared, “John’s device was delivered today. John and his mom were both very excited!  He told her ‘drink’- went to get a drink container from the fridge, and then said ‘please drink’ on the device.  We were both so happy!!  Above is a picture of him with his drink!”

A Device Allows Eli to be Heard & Understood

Eli pictured above with his device!

Eli’s SLP, Katie told us, “Elijah will be delighted to be able to communicate with his family. He gets very frustrated when trying to let us know what he needs. He is a very friendly person and loves to interact with us and I believe this device will enable him request what he wants without us having to narrow down what he is requesting.”

What do you think Aiden requested first with his device?

Aiden pictured above.

You’ll love what Aiden’s SLP, Jennifer shared with us, “After only a few minutes of me demonstrating with mom and giving her instructions, Aiden spontaneously approached the device and requested to “go” and when asked where… he requested “trampoline”.  So of course, we went outside and he was happy as can be. On behalf of his family… thank you so much for the gift of voice for Aiden.”

THANK YOU for sharing in these special moments and being part of Variety’s team.

CELEBRATING TRUE FREEDOM for 61 Schuylkill Co. Kids!

61 kids in Schuylkill County CELEBRATED with TRUE FREEDOM this weekend after recently receiving their new adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and/or communication devices!

These 61 kids have the FREEDOM to ride a bike and gain independence, have the FREEDOM to get out in the community easily and safely with their stroller, and have the FREEDOM of a voice with their device. PROVIDING FREEDOM is at the core of what we are giving our kids and their families, and I hope you’ll take a few moments to share in these life-changing moments!

Lyla, age 13 received an adaptive bike:

Lyla is pictured above speaking to WBRE-TV.

Very happy that I finally have that chance to ride a bike and just be happy. Like normal kids because I can’t do a lot of things that normal kids can do,” said Lyla in an interview with WBRE-TV.

You don’t want to miss the full interview to hear more from Lyla and her Grandmother, Sharon, so click below:

Students receive bicycles and strollers made to accommodate special needs

Kareem, age 10 received an adaptive bike:

Kareem is pictured above riding his new bike.

WNEP-TV also joined us, as Kareem and other kids received their new bikes! Kareem’s mom told WNEP, This opens up a whole new world for him to be able to go out and socialize and play with other kids. He can’t ride a regular bike, so this is helping him to go out with his brothers and have a good time that he can’t do without it honestly.”

Click here to see the full piece and watch Kareem ride his bike for the first timehttps://www.wnep.com/article/news/local/schuylkill-county/charity-adapts-bikes-to-assist-children-with-disabilities/523-e6165b8d-54eb-436a-b0b9-cf78fcbf3650

At our core, we want to give kids freedom, and these smiles by The Shenandoah Sentinel truly captures the joy of the day for Kaylonie and Anayamarie!

Kaylonie and Anayamarie are pictured above on their new bikes.

IT’S ALL FOR THE KIDS!

PART 2: “Making an Impact in the Midst of a Pandemic”

Dear Variety Friends,

100 KIDS HAVE RECEIVED THEIR NEW VOICES!

In the midst of the pandemic, Variety has provided 100 communication devices (so far) to kids who are nonverbal or have a communication disorder through our special delivery process!

Check out some of the highlights so far, and share in what a communication device means for the kids and their families.

Kozmo, age 5 from Dauphin County:

Kozmo is pictured above receiving his new device!

After delivering Kozmo’s new voice to him, Karen, his Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) from the Capital Area Intermediate Unit told us,

He had been using 80-85 words on a device at school, so when he saw HIS words on his device, he started jumping up and down with joy, as dad showed it to him for the first time. You can’t see it, but he has a big smile underneath his mask.”

Karen also noted, What if you couldn’t talk anywhere you went throughout your day and could only point to things? Communication is everything. Every parent wants to communicate with their child.”

After receiving the device, the family went straight home, where Kozmo started to use it right away, saying, “Mom, grandma, and cookie.”

Kozmo’s mom called the device “a God-send in the midst of the pandemic,” as she can move from a mind reader to truly knowing what her child likes. For example, she recently learned that Kozmo likes blueberries through device!

Emmanuel, age 6 from Westmoreland County:

Pictured above is Margaret delivering Emmanuel’s device.

Margaret, Emmanuel’s SLP from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3 was thrilled to deliver his new communication device to the family’s home!

Emmanuel’s family later wrote saying, “He loves his device! I am so excited to see how he will grow with it.” Margaret has already received multiple videos of him talking about all of his favorite animals using his new voice!

Levi, age 4 from Dauphin County:

Levi is pictured above all smiles with his new voice by his side!

His SLP Kate (from the Capital Area Intermediate Unit) explained how much the device meant to him in school, “Levi picked up using a communication device (with LAMP) in the classroom, and every day, he used the device to ask for a hug! He’s just SO excited to communicate.”

Before he received his device, Levi’s grandmother, Sharia told us, “I can’t wait to see his face light up when he uses it!

Then, we received another message from Sharia after Levi got his new voice, He was very excited to connect with something familiar and supportive from his physical school setting. ‘Go get your words’ and ‘Use your voice’ are becoming welcome phrases at home, and our family can’t adequately express in words our gratitude.”

Maci, age 8 from Dauphin County:

Maci is pictured above showing her gratitude.

Maci also received her communication device during the pandemic. Her mom, Lindsey helped her make this incredible sign as a thanks. If the sign wasn’t enough to make us feel the love, Lindsey and Pam (Maci’s SLP from Upper Dauphin Area School District) wrote this beautiful poem,

To give the gift of a voice

The gift to be heard

The gift to say my choice

The power of a word

Now I don’t have to wait

I have the power to participate

A chance for others to see

The special person that is in me.

For Maci

It’s exciting to say that a majority of our families receiving devices during the pandemic plan to have virtual therapy sessions and/or trainings with the child’s Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)!

Thank you for sharing in our joy and celebrating these extraordinary kids!

Take good care,

Charlie

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