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.

Embracing Their Struggles & Providing HOPE

It’s another reason to smile, as Maryn’s mom, Jolie explained the daily challenges their family faces, and the ways that Variety helped to make life better.

Jolie shared,

People don’t see the struggles we go through on a daily basis to normalize life for our kids and get them out into the community… It is overwhelming and difficult.

For example, breaking down a large wheelchair is really tough. If you don’t have family around to help, it is even more difficult. And, no one understands.

Variety is a blessing and Maryn’s adaptive stroller makes such a difference!

Maryn also received a communication device, and now she has a voice!

Just now, she let us know with her device that she wanted something to drink, so we were able to get her a drink.

You can see the frustration and the meltdowns when Maryn can’t communicate, but this device truly gives her a voice.

The device helps us understand all these things that make her world go round. It takes so much stress off of not just Maryn, but the family as a whole.

Maryn has a twin sister, Amae, who also received an adaptive bike from Variety… your organization has been such a blessing for our family.”

“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.

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!!

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,