Last Tuesday, we had a conversation with Wren, mother of 5-year-old Bjorn (pictured below), who received his own communication device from Variety in February… and we simply can’t stop talking about it!
Wren explained all the ways that having a communication device has truly changed her son’s life, and her own, by saying,
“Since receiving the communication device, Bjorn has gone from being a completely non-speaking child, to using his device to communicate with everyone, and it has been the most beautiful transformation to watch!!
Now, Bjorn is SO HAPPY because the device is easy for him to use and he gets his points across… he requests things, identifies things, picks his clothes out every morning, and even says what he wants to do next…
He’ll use his device to say, ‘Going to grammy’s house!’ with a smile.
Bjorn put his own picture in there and loves introducing himself to others – the device has been like a miracle.
I can’t wait to see where the device takes him because now, he has no more limitations.
Bjorn talks to me in the car with his device, and since receiving it, our relationship is so much closer now that we can communicate and that just makes my heart leap.
He’s in preschool and starting Kindergarten next fall, and through his device, he shows us that he knows so much! He knows his shapes, numbers, and places, and he loves that it’s speaking the words for him.
Bjorn takes ownership of the device, and he takes it everywhere he goes. His confidence is truly soaring because of the communication device.”
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!!
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!
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.
We reached another milestone last week with a CBS National News story that shined a spotlight on Variety’s My Voice® Program!
Please watch, share, and be inspired by this story broken into three parts:
- Part 1 – The Journey to My Voice Featuring Tyler: https://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/20220804184922-charity-gives-kids-a-voice-through-technology/#x
- Part 2 – My Voice Interview with KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen: https://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/20220804185255-expanding-the-my-voice-program-across-u-s/
- Part 3 – Interview with Sue, whose son, JJ received two communication devices through My Voice and myself: https://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/20220804174538-my-voice-program-trying-to-help-kids-in-need/#x
We are hopeful that this story will enable us to help even more kids in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as highlight that we’ve truly created a model that can be replicated throughout the nation (and even world).
A tremendous thanks to KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen, who not only made this extraordinary opportunity possible, but she also became a voice for the kids that still need a communication device.
My Voice is creating a life-changing impact for kids that are nonverbal (or have a communication disorder), and we’re so grateful for your support to make it happen!
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)!
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.
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.
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.
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.