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.

Strolling Away with A SMILE

We are fortunate to help so many kids and families. They are truly at the center of everything we do, especially in helping us understand how truly life-changing our programs are for them.

9-year old Hannah is pictured above in her new PINK adaptive stroller that provides her with safe, easy, on-the-go mobility.

Hannah is surrounded by her two sisters, Lauren and Katie, along with her mom, Barbara, who were all thrilled about Hannah’s new “set of wheels” because it meant togetherness.

Barbara’s words help us understand the immediate impact that the stroller created:

“Hannah isn’t able to walk independently, so our family is always looking for ways to include Hannah in our everyday activities. All too often we’ve been limited to picking the one wheelchair that will best suit her needs.

Unfortunately, that means we choose what is most practical for school and the indoors. But, if you’ve ever tried to push a traditional wheelchair through a snowy parking lot or across a gravel pathway, you know how difficult and uncomfortable it can be in the great outdoors!

We dream of being able to have the best of both worlds.

For Hannah, and our family, having a Mighty Lite stroller means she can join her siblings on a stroll down our gravel road, or on a hike on a path out into the woods!

She’d be able to navigate the walkways at local parks or the local ski slope, where her dad and siblings like to entertain her with their slips and slides.

For mommy, it means getting outside more and perhaps even ‘off the beaten path’ a little, and it will allow Mom and Hannah to more easily join the rest of the family on adventures.

A stroller made for travel and the outdoors will literally mean the world to us — for it gives Hannah the opportunity to explore the world around her like never before!”

My Stroller is helping families stay safe, stay together, and live more freely.

This isn’t just a stroller, but a life-changing piece of equipment that has an immediate impact on not only the child, but their entire family.

It’s a beautiful thing, and we hope it brings a smile to your week to know that Hannah has her new set of wheels.

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.

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.

Checking in with A SMILE!

Tree of Life Rabbi Myers was on GMA this past Friday morning, and he made a terrific point when he said that we need “PHYSICAL distance from others at this time but SOCIAL connection.” Such a good point that we need social connected-ness. We are grateful for our connection and all that we have done and are doing for kids with disabilities.

At this challenging time, we wanted to send you a small reminder about the power of a smile.

Issac makes me smile because I know that he has a communication device to not only help him find freedom in communication, but, as his mom describes below, it will help to lessen his own daily frustration.

Issac and his parents are all smiles with his new device!

Issac’s mom, Morgan describes why this device is needed, “Issac’s functional communication has always been a struggle, and it is clearly a source of frustration for him when he tries to communicate but can’t find the words he needs.  Since he started speech therapy, Issac has continued to develop a vocabulary of useful words for requesting objects and observations. With this equipment, we can continue to support Issac as his vocabulary grows, and it is our hope this will help decrease frustration.”

Issac checking out his new voice!

Let’s strive to keep our social connection and find every moment to SMILE!

“Watching Your Child Struggle is One of the Hardest Things.”

When 4-year old Nik received his communication device, he was BEAUTIFULLY surrounded by his  parents, siblings, grandparents, and even his aunt and uncle.

All of whom came to the presentation to celebrate this life-changing day and to show their commitment to helping him every step of the way.

Nik is pictured above surrounded by his family, as he receives his new communication device!

Nik’s mom, Nikol gave us perspective to why she was originally hesitant to try a communication device, and the impact it has since had on her son,

“Watching your child struggle with something is one of the hardest things. Especially when that struggle is with communication.

We as Nikolas’s parents… growing up… we would never think twice about being able to verbally communicate. Something, we feel we took for granted.

We have tried to be so proactive with helping him communicate. When Nik’s speech therapist asked us about utilizing an iPad in class to help Nikolas, we had a concern that it would hurt more so than help Nik. ‘Would he use the iPad and not want to try to speak?’ We were worried, but after support from his teacher and speech therapist, we decided to try it.

To our surprise Nik seemed to come home, almost daily, and it felt like he was able to verbally communicate more that day or week than the last. Janet asked if we were interested in having one at home and without hesitation we happily said ‘YES!’

To have Nik come home and not struggle with verbally communicating his wants as much, whether picking up more words or utilizing the iPad, would be such a blessing.”

After receiving his device, Nikol sent us this 30-second video of him using it to tell her what he wanted:

Thank you for believing in Variety’s work and helping us, help more kids.

A 1-Minute Update… Try Not to Smile!

MEET HAZEL

Hazel is all smiles above with her mom!

3-year old Hazel was all smiles, as she checked out her new communication device (and ate a tangerine). She received the device last Tuesday through Variety’s My Voice® Program, and we are still beaming with joy for her and her entire family.

Her mom, Mary told us,

Hazel wants to communicate. She tries so hard to tell us what she wants and what she’s thinking, but she runs into the limitation of her ability very quickly. While Hazel communicates with sign language, she only has about five spoken words, and it’s very difficult for her to form words.

A device like this would be life-changing for us, as it would give her another way to speak to us, and it would give her a consistent aid in hearing spoken words to help her build her own vocal abilities.”

This communication device is a tool for kids like Hazel to find their voice, and be able to express their wants, needs, and feelings to those around them. I don’t know about you, but I would love to hear what Hazel has to say now with her device!

The Impact Doubled for Brayden & Brooke!

On Monday, January 27th, Variety presented adaptive equipment in Erie, and what a day it was!

6-year old Brayden received a communication device AND a bike, and you have to read what his mom shared…

Brayden is pictured above with his mom and new equipment!

“Brayden is nonverbal, so he doesn’t speak, so this device is going to really help him. And it’s just, it gets tough because I’m a single mom at home, I have limited income and I have another child who’s high functioning autistic. She speaks and everything, but she’s just having some trouble with emotions and dealing with others.

And so we just take one day at a time, but he’s just – all of these kids with special needs are such blessings, but it’s hard, it’s really hard sometimes. And you just want to make it as normal for them as possible, because they have enough challenges, so you just want to give them love and help them communicate as best they can. So I’m very thankful.”

Earlier that day, Variety held a Press Conference with City of Erie Mayor Joseph Schember, Saint Vincent Hospital CEO Dr. Christopher Clark, representatives from Intermediate Unit 5, Barber National Institute, and others from the Northwestern corner of Pa. to make a big push to identify every eligible child who could benefit from their own communication device.