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.

Open Up for Some Good News!

Variety’s 2022 SPRING LIFE-CHANGING TOUR continues with nearly 40 more adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers being presented with Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit 16, AFSCME Council 13, Westmoreland Intermediate Unit 7, Clairview School, and Blackburn’s!

Don’t miss reading why this mobility equipment will truly change the lives of the kids and their families!

It was a big day for twin brothers, Judah and Silas (from Northumberland County), who received their new adaptive bikes, and their mom, Nicole told us why the bikes will make a big difference:

For Judah, the combination of low coordination and anxiety make it difficult for him to join in on what most consider normal activities.

An adaptive bike will allow him to develop the coordination necessary to not only ride a bike, but to be able to participate in other activities and remove the anxiety and fear holding him back!”

Silas has fought every day to overcome challenges and difficulties from birth, and he still struggles with balance, coordination, and vision. He desperately wants to play with and partake in the same activities as his family, friends, and peers at school, but often struggles and becomes frustrated.

An adaptive bike will not only help improve his balance and coordination, but also his confidence – leading him to gain more independence and freedom!

Two bikes for two brothers – that’s something to make us all smile!

Delilah-Rose from Dauphin County is pictured above on her beautiful new pink adaptive bike, and her mom, Delaina shared:

“An adaptive bike will really help with my daughter’s coordination issues.

Also, she will be able to ride bikes with her cousins who are the same age without them asking me why can’t she play like them.

This bike will build her confidence in being to do something new and keep her self-esteem high because she can now do the same activities as the other children her age!”

Luke from Westmoreland County was beaming with joy on his new adaptive bike, and that night, Luke’s mom shared this beautiful message:

“Luke is beyond elated for his bike and has been talking about it for a couple weeks since we found out we were approved.

He got it today and the whole way home all I heard was, ‘Mommy where’s my blue bike,” and “Mommy I ride my blue bike.’

A huge thank you to the people who donate to Variety to make kids like Luke’s dreams come true, and turning our Luke’s dream of riding with his siblings and keeping up with them a reality.

He is always such a happy determined kiddo and this bike gives him the chance to keep fighting.”

Check out more from our presentation in Westmoreland County by reading this terrific news story by the Tribune Review (Greensburg)!

Life-Changing Tour for KIDS!

Last month, we kicked off Variety’s 2022 Spring Life-Changing Tour for Kids, and we presented more than 30 adaptive bikes and adaptive strollers in partnership with Covestro, Midwestern Intermediate Unit 4, Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit 5, and Blackburn’s!

8-year old Emily (above) received her second adaptive bike (after outgrowing the first one), and she was ALL SMILES, as she tried it out.

Her dad, Todd explained why it will be transformative for his daughter, by saying, “Emily has a Rifton adaptive bike from Variety that she has outgrown. She loves riding her bike around the neighborhood with her brother, Sam (who also has a Rifton adaptive bike from Variety).

Emily thrives on being independent like her peers. She also cannot walk independently, so the bike helps her to get needed exercise as well.”

9-year old, Robert and his parents (above) were beaming with joy when he received his own adaptive stroller.

His mom, Amanda shared why this piece of equipment means so much, The adaptive stroller will help us tremendously. It is getting harder for us to pick Robert up and put him down, or carry him for a long distance. We hope the stroller helps us when going places where he will get tired out fast. The stroller we have is very bulky and takes up all the room in the trunk of the car.

With this adaptive stroller, it will allow us to become closer connected because we can stay together while out shopping, touring, vacationing, etc.”

8-year old, Rowan (above) also received his new adaptive bike last month, and his mom, Mandy shared,

Our hope for Rowan having this bike is that he will be able to have the same opportunity as everyone else. This bike will give us the opportunity to get out in the community more. We have seen him wanting to ride bikes with his sisters as they are learning to ride their bikes

I believe this bike will serve in many great areas of Rowan’s development physically, mentally, and socially. It will also create independence within him, which we hope will give him the self-confidence to try and ultimately to move for himself.”

We have much more to come from our 2022 Spring Tour, so stay tuned for even more reasons to smile.

Danny Can SEE & EXPERIENCE Her World!

Imagine if you couldn’t sit up on your own while out in the community… How would you see the world differently?

When Danny received her new adaptive stroller (pictured below with her beautiful service dog), I could tell it was an important day for her AND her family.

Her mom, Marie told us very simply why the adaptive stroller is so important,

“She’s laying down in her current stroller, so this one makes a big difference because with the accessories, it enables her to sit up safely and fit comfortably.

The adaptive stroller will also make transporting her so much easier, since we cannot get her wheelchair into our car.”

As Danny smiled in her new stroller, her grandma, Tracey exclaimed,

“Danny is GLEEFUL because she’s sitting UP in the adaptive stroller!”

Grandma’s level of joy at the presentation was on another level because for the first time, her granddaughter was able to SIT UP and SEE more of the world around her.

All it took was an adaptive stroller to transform Danny’s daily life.

Celebrating #5,000 – United Together for KIDS!

We hope you can smile and celebrate with us, as you read the recap below on reaching an incredible milestone!

Last Wednesday, we presented the 5,000th piece of adaptive equipment, which means that we have presented “5,000” adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and communication devices to kids and their families (worth more than $7.75 million altogether)!

#5,000 was a PINK adaptive bike presented to Riley (pictured above), and she AND her parents were so happy and excited. Beforehand, Riley’s mom, Suzie helped us understand the bike’s significance, by sharing,

“Riley never rode a bike before starting physical therapy at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. We tried tricycles and training wheels, but they weren’t equipped for her like this special bike.

The first time Rylie rode the adaptive bike in therapy, she was so proud and happy to be riding a bike.

As she pedaled around for the first time on it, she exclaimed, ‘I’m doing it! I can ride just like everyone else!’

When I told Rylie that she was approved for My Bike, she was so happy and said, ‘I can ride a bike with my friends now!’

Finding Variety and getting this bike taught and motivated me to think about how many other things we thought Rylie can’t do, that she actually can do with the right tools or equipment. Rather than, ‘Oh, she just can’t,’ my mindset now is, ‘How can she? How can we find a way?’”

You don’t want to miss watching Riley explain for herself what the new bike means in this KDKA-TV news piece.

Additionally, we were grateful to have the same key partners, who were influential in helping us kick-off My Bike nine years ago:  The Honorable Tom Corbett, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Highmark’s Deb Rice-Johnson, PNC’s Andrea Carelli, and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Travis Williams (pictured below in order on adaptive bikes).

As we continue to meet the mobility and communication needs of kids with disabilities, at the very center is ensuring that all children have a way to communicate.

This TribLive article features Tyler, and it highlights his miraculous voice journey with the help of a communication device from Variety.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 will always be a significant date in Variety’s history, but reaching this milestone happened because of the support, enthusiasm, and dedication of SO MANY people and organizations.

We applaud the entire COMMUNITY, and THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for what you’ve helped us to accomplish for kids and their families.

“YELLOW because I can SEE IT!”

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY!

21-year old Jessica is legally blind, but she just received her new adaptive bike from Variety, and it is something to make you smile!

When we first met Jessica at her bike fitting, she was so passionate about the color of her bike, and Jessica wanted YELLOW because she could see it – something no one realized until she told us.

At the presentation, Jessica shared in her own words what the bike means, by saying, This will help me to get out and ride more and get exercise. I love the exercise!

Her dad, Charlie also shared his excitement for the bike, by saying,

“Our family loves to ride bikes on the bike trails near our home.

Some of us have to run and hold onto a bike that Jessica is riding, or we have to rig a wagon to the back of our bikes just so we can all go together.

This bike opens a door to enjoy family bike rides. It will be so nice for us all to ride bikes together and be able to spend that family time enjoying exercise and the outdoors.

Jessica loves to exercise and having this special bike will mean our entire family can do this activity together.”

Jessica was a good reminder to me that you just don’t know who will want or love this equipment, and we should never make assumptions on who can ride a bike, even those with blindness or vision issues.

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’s Only The Beginning

Receiving an adaptive bike is only the beginning of the impact for our kids.

Please take a minute to read about Johnny Heubel, an 18-year old who has greatly inspired us all.

Johnny received his new adaptive bike last month at Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit, and his mother, Megan shared why this bike is so important,

“The programs that are created, in this example, My Bike, are the best things our family has had a chance to be a part of. Since Johnathan’s accident, I say this word (CHANCE) because the bike is our first-move outside of a wheelchair to liberate him with a step of independence.

We hope as a family, along with Jonathan’s first-hand team that this adaptive bike will allow Jonathan to become more mobile – for more strength to evolve within his legs. We hope riding a bike will help improve his cognitive abilities, too. The concept of, ‘like riding a bike’ helps us to take-on change in his rehabilitation with OPTIMISM!”

After Johnny received his new bike, his family presented us with this special note,

Johnny reminds us that receiving this adaptive equipment is only the beginning. Whether it’s an adaptive bike, adaptive stroller, or communication device, we are giving kids the opportunity to discover their own possibilities.

However, our need for support right now has never been more critical to fund more adaptive bikes (at $1,800 per bike) and adaptive strollers (at $1,500 per stroller).

All donations go directly to our kids and any amount will make a difference.

Supporting My Bike or My Stroller is even easier with recent updates, but we also have a form to donate by mail.

Thank you so much for being a part of the Variety Family, where it is ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

P.S. You can read more about Johnny’s inspiring journey at https://www.facebook.com/HEUBELSTRONG23