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.
“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.”
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 few months ago, we officially surpassed 6,000 pieces of life-changing equipment presented to kids with disabilities – something we all can celebrate, together!
#6,000 was a communication device for 4-year-old, Noah, who is using it above to request chips!
His mom, Lucrecia explained why her son needs his own communication device and the difference it will make on a daily basis, by saying,
“I am writing to you as the mother of a toddler, who has been diagnosed with Autism.
As you can imagine, when we received this news it was very hard to take in, but as a family, we are trying to make the best of a challenging situation.
A mother’s love for her child is unparalleled.
I have so much love and compassion for my son, Noah, and on his behalf, I want to advocate for him to have all the opportunities that I can offer him, especially as he starts his journey of learning and living in this world.
I enrolled him in a Program that has assisted him in his development, and he recently had a breakthrough success. He was completely non-speaking when he started the Program, and then the other day, he verbally said two words, ‘Go’ and ‘Yea.’
I broke down in tears of joy by this tremendous moment!
Having his own communication device to utilize 24/7 will make all the difference in the world, especially with Noah’s learning and development.
This communication device will also have a huge impact on us, his parents, as well as Noah’s brother and sister because he will be able to communicate with everyone around him.”
After receiving his new communication device from Variety, Lucrecia told us, “Thank you again so much to everyone that has Helped myself and my Babyboy. I want to thank Them a million times!!”
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.”
We simply wanted to share some QUICK good news to brighten your day.
Now that Grace has her own communication device, she is simply “going to soar” in life, as her Speech Language Pathologist, Alix shared,
“Grace was presented her device today with her mom and class!
We are so thrilled and excited, and her er reaction to it was priceless!
The first thing she did was request her favorite snack, goldfish, and say ‘HI’ to her favorite peer in her classroom.
We are all so thankful for this opportunity and equipment for Grace.
You at Variety were our light at the end of the tunnel, and we can’t wait to watch Grace soar because of you!
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!
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.
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!!
An adaptive stroller has an immediate impact for every family, and it’s amazing to hear how it opens up new worlds for kids and their families – like Matteo.
Last March, 8-year-old Matteo received his new adaptive stroller (after already receiving his new bike).
Well, his mom Marie joyfully shared an experience that the stroller made possible,
“Thanks to Matteo’s special stroller, we were able to take a trip to Niagara Falls!! We walked around Goat Island with no issues, and I can’t thank you enough for making this possible.”
Prior to receiving an adaptive stroller, Matteo and his family were greatly limited in what they could do, together. Matteo’s Occupational Therapist, Theresa explained,
“Matteo has a history of running from his parents while shopping and in parking lots, putting him at risk of injury. Because of this, his family avoids any recreational activities in more crowded places that they would otherwise like to enjoy together.
An adaptive stroller will significantly improve the family’s participation within their community by improving safety and mobility on family outing.”
You can’t fully see Matteo’s joy above, as he gazes towards Niagara Falls, but you can definitely see him smile in this short video – riding his adaptive bike alongside his family!
We have a unique chance to help kids gain their own communication devices on a much larger scale, as we strive to reach every eligible child that can benefit from our My Voice Program.
Thanks to input from Speech Language Pathologists, we’re also now reaching an incredible number of younger kids (ages 3-5), and we are hearing incredible success stories at an early age.
More than ever before, we have an exciting opportunity with My Voice, and our work is to help kids live life to the fullest – like Lyla.
Last Thursday, Lyla celebrated her 3rd birthday, and the next day, she received her new communication device! Lyla’s mom, Rebecca explained to us,
“Lyla is 3 and she’s unable to use words or enough signs to communicate her wants, needs or feelings.
This communication device will allow her to tell us what she needs on a daily basis, or how she’s currently feeling – like when she is happy or sad.
With this device, she can share in family activities more and build skills needed to thrive in the home as well as to prepare her for starting pre-school soon.
She has been trialing different communication apps with her speech therapists, and it’s like a whole new world opened up for Lyla. For instance, she could never tell us if she wanted to play – like with cars or a ball, but with the device, she can.
We have already learned so much more about her that we didn’t know and we’re eager to learn more.
Last September, we finalized Lyla’s adoption, and as a family, we want to provide everything we can to help her continue to make progress.
We have had her for a year, but now we see a new spark in her eyes because she is able to communicate more with us. The device will help us build stronger bonds with Lyla because we will be able to meet her specific needs.
Through the device, we also now know she is learning and picking up on skills that we had no idea she even knew.
As her parents, we simply hope to continue to help her be successful throughout her whole life — to let Lyla be the best Lyla that she can be and this device will help make that possible.”
With a device, Lyla can now communicate with her parents, her sister, and three brothers at home 24/7, as well as anywhere life takes her.
Can you imagine the difference a communication device will make for Lyla and her newly adopted family over the years to come?…
As always, thank you all so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!
Take good care,
P.S. Variety accepts applications all-year-long for adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and communication devices, so please help us share the word to your networks (www.varietypittsburgh.org/applynow/).