Six years ago, Variety kicked off “My Bike” with the presentation of Bike #1 at PNC Park with then Governor Tom Corbett, Pirates’ President Frank Coonelly, PNC’s Andrea Carelli, Highmark’s Deb Rice-Johnson and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. We had an idea at that moment and the desire to impact kids with disabilities.
Six years later, we returned to PNC Park with not only “My Bike”, but “My Stroller” and “My Voice” with all three of these programs changing kids’ lives in dramatic ways. Since November 2012 when “My Bike” kicked off, 2,500 bikes, strollers, and communication devices have been presented and $4.3 Million has been donated to provide this life-changing equipment, and we’ve expanded our service area from 10 Southwestern Pa. counties to 54 counties in Pa. and West Virginia.
I was especially impacted by Clint Hurdle’s words for all of us in the room last Friday,
“To see this type of opportunity is priceless to me. We have a special needs daughter, Maddie, who is 16 years old. She has never ridden a bike and wants no part of a bike. The joy I walk out of here with is seeing the smiles on the faces of you parents and grandparents, and the independence these bikes give your children. I know the joy we get when someone takes a part in our daughter’s life. It makes our journey a little easier.”
Last Friday was not only a flashback to where “My Bike” began and where it has gone today, but Variety also presented 5 adaptive bikes as part of the Pirates’ CARE-a-van that allowed Pirates’ coaches / players to interact and walk alongside our kids, including: Josh Bell, J.T. Brubaker, Cole Tucker, Jacob Cruz, Joey Cora and Justin Meccage. Excitingly, three of the five bikes presented were sponsored by the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Alumni.
Also joining the day’s festivities last Friday was Variety Ambassador James, his sister Krissy, and his mom Mary.
Krissy summed up the bike’s impact by saying, “The day that I rode bikes with my brother for the first time was one of the most amazing days of my life. It may be the very best day ever!”
Thank you for following along with us – we could not be more grateful for you!
P.S. If you have a few minutes, you can watch this short video that portrays our journey from an idea to the impact we are creating today for so many kids.
On Thursday, July 19th, Variety was given a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to present 21 adaptive bikes to children with disabilities at Heinz Field, and it was a truly extraordinary day!
The kids got to ride their new bikes for the first time through the Steelers’ tunnel and onto Heinz Field to cheers of celebration from our attendees (waving Terrible Towels).
The day was made possible by the incredible commitment and generosity of Andrea Carelli, who from the beginning wanted to do it for the kids. Andrea acted as a catalyst to get “My Bike” rolling by writing the first check to sponsor a bike in 2012, and since then, her momentum and passion for our kids has only escalated.
One of the most special moments yesterday was the reaction of Kobe, 18, who shed tears of pure joy to be receiving his very own bike. Kobe came surrounded by more than 20 family members (his team) that were there to celebrate with him and see him shine. A majority of the 21 adaptive bikes were made possible because of the sponsorships generated by Leo Gerard and the United Steelworkers.
For kids like Emma, age 10, her new PINK bike means something that she can do with her twin brother and parents.
Emma’s mom, Dorothy went further to say, “This bike will give Emma and her twin brother, Evan something they can do together again. We will be able to get outside and do something we all enjoy. Emma and I won’t be stuck in the house while her dad and brother get to go out and ride. There are few things that we all are able to do together now as a family. Plus, Emma will get the exercise she needs while on a safe piece of equipment, which will boost her confidence and independence! It’s a win, win for all of us!”
In addition to the photos, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a wonderful video montage of the event that really gives you a feel for the energy, excitement, and joy that was with us yesterday. Check it out here: https://liber.post-gazette.com/video/?v=5811335048001
You can see more photos (AND SMILES) from the day by visiting Variety’s Facebook Page (click here).
Variety’s team of supporters spans throughout our 54-county service area, and that supports is anything from giving a donation of time/money to expertise to simply spreading the word about our programs in local communities. YOU are part of the VARIETY TEAM, and we truly could not accomplish these life-changing moments without you.
Bayer hosted a “double-header” bike presentation on April 19, 2013.
126 children with disabilities received their new adaptive bikes during a two-part presentation at Bayer – this being the single largest presentation of adaptive bikes ever in the nation.
During the event, Brian was presented with Bike #250 through Variety’s “My Bike” Program by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Brian quickly said, “I’ve always wanted to ride with my family around the park and I haven’t been able to, but now I have the chance. This is awesome!”
Discussing the importance of Variety’s “My Bike” Program and its model for the rest of Pa. and the nation, Governor Corbett noted, “I see no reason why in the years to come, this program cannot reach out to every county in Pennsylvania. And after that, to the rest of the county.”
Mary, mother of James (who received an adaptive bike previously in March 2013) spoke to families about the impact the bike has made on James and their entire family.
Mary said, “The bike is more than just a handle bar and three wheels… it is freedom, normalcy. It is amazing to see what James is doing now. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a couple weeks after receiving his bike, James walked independently for the first time, taking 14 steps… all by himself!”
See more on “The Gift of ‘My Bike’ at Bayer” by watching below:
- Experience “The Gift of ‘My Bike’ at Bayer”.
- Watch Governor Corbett highlight the program’s importance.
- Watch Brian receive Bike #250.
- Watch Ange, mother of Brian discuss her hope for the bike.
- Watch Mary, mother of James discuss the impact of the bike.
- Watch Evan, brother of Jacob tell the sibling’s perspective.
The day it all began…
Variety launched its “My Bike” Program during a press conference with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Monday, November 5, 2012 at PNC Park.
“What a great program to roll out that we can help make children with disabilities mobile, give them freedom, allow them to interact with other children their age who don’t have disabilities… I can’t think of a better program for that mobility and for freedom than ‘My Bike’.” -Governor Corbett at the kick off of Variety’s “My Bike” Program
At the press conference, Variety announced a goal of 200 sponsored adaptive bikes for children with disabilities by Christmas. This goal was later exceeded and Variety received 220 sponsored or pledged adaptive bikes by Christmas 2012.
Aubrey was presented with the first bike of Variety’s “My Bike” Program by Andrea Carelli, Co-Chair of Variety’s “My Bike” Program & Senior Vice President of PNC, and Governor Corbett.
“Aubrey really loves her new bike! It’s her new-found freedom! The best part is… Aubrey doesn’t want to get off! We are so very grateful for this wonderful bike!” -Jill, mother of Aubrey
“When Kody first rode his bike it was like a miracle,” said Kim, Kody’s mom. “Everybody was so amazed that Kody could do something other than be in a wheelchair. It was like he was just this typical child riding a bike with a helmet on and being a normal child.”