“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.

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

It Opens A New World for Ava and Aubree

And for these two sisters, it is only the beginning…

Twin sisters, Ava and Aubree each received their own adaptive bikes AND adaptive strollers from Variety (pictured above on their new bikes), but receiving the equipment was only the beginning for them and their family.

Their mom, Kelsey shared how much they loved their new bikes, by saying,

“We brought their bikes inside last night and set them up on the stationary stands. Ava and Aubree were riding them until bedtime, and then went straight to them as soon as they woke up!”

Kelsey really got to the heart of how life-changing the strollers are when she shared,These strollers make it possible to take the girls places. We want them to be as safe as possible, but also be able to go to events/outings just like typical kids can.

We’ve been able to go to the zoo twice this year, and we even bought a membership, which we would have never done if not for these strollers. So… there are no words to thank you all enough.”

Over the last year, Variety’s impact has been truly remarkable and historic for our small organization, and that impact isn’t slowing down.

For many months now, we have been receiving more than 30 applications per week, and by the end of June, we are scheduled to present another 85-100 pieces of adaptive equipment!

However, right now, we desperately need to raise funds for our My Bike® and My Stroller® Programs. We are writing to ask you to join us in a Mobility Campaign to make sure no child has to wait on their adaptive bike or stroller.

If you are able to help, we would greatly appreciate it. These kids wait on so many things, so it is my hope that we will not need a waiting list at all.

You can give a donation online for My Bike or My Stroller, or use the attached donation form to give by mail.

Truly, any amount will make a difference because if we all give some, there is no stopping how many more kids we can impact, TOGETHER!

CELEBRATING TRUE FREEDOM for 61 Schuylkill Co. Kids!

61 kids in Schuylkill County CELEBRATED with TRUE FREEDOM this weekend after recently receiving their new adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and/or communication devices!

These 61 kids have the FREEDOM to ride a bike and gain independence, have the FREEDOM to get out in the community easily and safely with their stroller, and have the FREEDOM of a voice with their device. PROVIDING FREEDOM is at the core of what we are giving our kids and their families, and I hope you’ll take a few moments to share in these life-changing moments!

Lyla, age 13 received an adaptive bike:

Lyla is pictured above speaking to WBRE-TV.

Very happy that I finally have that chance to ride a bike and just be happy. Like normal kids because I can’t do a lot of things that normal kids can do,” said Lyla in an interview with WBRE-TV.

You don’t want to miss the full interview to hear more from Lyla and her Grandmother, Sharon, so click below:

Students receive bicycles and strollers made to accommodate special needs

Kareem, age 10 received an adaptive bike:

Kareem is pictured above riding his new bike.

WNEP-TV also joined us, as Kareem and other kids received their new bikes! Kareem’s mom told WNEP, This opens up a whole new world for him to be able to go out and socialize and play with other kids. He can’t ride a regular bike, so this is helping him to go out with his brothers and have a good time that he can’t do without it honestly.”

Click here to see the full piece and watch Kareem ride his bike for the first timehttps://www.wnep.com/article/news/local/schuylkill-county/charity-adapts-bikes-to-assist-children-with-disabilities/523-e6165b8d-54eb-436a-b0b9-cf78fcbf3650

At our core, we want to give kids freedom, and these smiles by The Shenandoah Sentinel truly captures the joy of the day for Kaylonie and Anayamarie!

Kaylonie and Anayamarie are pictured above on their new bikes.

IT’S ALL FOR THE KIDS!

PART 1: Making an Impact in the Midst of a Pandemic

Dear Variety Friends:

As I take time to reflect, I am truly grateful for believing in our work to change the lives of kids with disabilities. With thanks, I want to send you a series of emails (starting with part 1 today) about the impact we’re having during the pandemic because I thought you would especially appreciate it.

In the midst of this pandemic, I have been inspired and had my life changed by a 17-year old named Corey, who is unstoppable!

This is one of the most incredible stories I have ever shared with you and amazing on many levels. I am sorry it is long… but I guarantee that you will be so grateful that you took in the whole story.

Corey is pictured above with his parents.

Critical background:

Corey receives therapy services and educational programming at Leg Up Farm in York County, Pa.

He had never ridden an adaptive bike until he rode one at Leg Up Farm.

Ever since, he wanted to have one at home, and he was scheduled to receive an adaptive bike and communication device at Leg Up Farm on April 3rd. Every day, he would ask his Speech Language Pathologist, Lu, Is my bike there? Is my bike there?

Corey’s mom, Michelle said that she and her husband (retired army) both love riding bikes, and were excited about the possibility of being able to ride with Corey as a family.

This opportunity to ride together has even more importance because Michelle is battling cancer and currently receiving chemotherapy. She wanted Corey to get the bike while she was healthy enough to ride with him.

April 3, 2020:

The presentation at Leg Up Farm was cancelled because of the pandemic.

Michelle was disappointed about having to wait for the bike, but also that Corey would not receive his communication device because, “Corey is partially verbal – he tries to say everything he reads and tries to communicate, but it is hard to understand him, which is where the device really helps him.”

April 9, 2020:

Michelle approached Lu, who called us, and with Corey’s Occupational Therapist, Nicole, and the leadership of Leg Up Farm, we created a way for Corey and other kids to receive communication devices and adaptive bikes in the middle of the pandemic!

May 9, 2020:

The Saturday before Mother’s Day, Corey received his new communication device thanks to a Special Delivery by Lu to his home.

Corey is pictured holding his new device, which came as a special delivery at his home!

May 15, 2020:

Corey received his adaptive bike at Leg Up Farm.

Corey is taking his new bike for a ride with his dad beside him!

Michelle said, “Thanks to the bike and the device, Corey is making connections with neighbor kids he didn’t have before. This has meant the world to him. He just spent the last two hours playing with kids he has never played with before until now, and they live right around us.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2020:

Corey’s SLP Lu sent us an update, “I am just amazed at how he has blossomed in the last couple days with both the bike and the talker. He so desperately wants to have friends and that bike has given him a way to meet them. Instead of just watching them, now he is joining in. Variety didn’t just give him a bike, it opened up a whole new world for him. Variety has truly made a difference in his life!”

Check this out – here’s a video that Corey filmed himself from a Zoom meeting with Lu and his mom.

And to top it all off!

After only having his device for 10 days and his bike for 5 days, Lu said,  It really was wonderful to see him being so independent with his device. He knew exactly what he wanted to tell you and he wanted to do it completely by himself. Now that he’s seeing just how much he can do by himself, he is gonna be unstoppable!”

Does it honestly get much better than this – that in the midst of a pandemic, in partnership with the therapist and his parents, Corey is becoming empowered to live a dramatically different life.

COREY, THE UNSTOPPABLE… I love it!

Take good care,

Charlie

Charles P. LaVallee
Chief Executive Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity

Ricky exclaimed, “I’M SMILING!”

WE ARE GRATEFUL TO RICKY and our partners at Blackburn’s, who are helping us make sure other kids can get their new adaptive bikes during the pandemic!

Ricky is all smiles above!

I hope you’ll check out this 1-minute video that we put together to thank 10-year old Ricky and highlight how grateful we are for his help! Wait until you hear Ricky at the end of the video. It truly knocked me out with joy!

Ricky continues to give back, as his mom, Michelle told us, Ricky has been so excited about his bike. He gave his 2 wheeler with training wheels to his friend that lives across the street. Now, they can ride together and Ricky is just one of the kids. This is a game changer for him!” 

With great joy, one of our Central Pa. partners are using the training videos to safely give out 5 adaptive bikes this week!

We’re jumping for joy to continue our work of impacting kids with disabilities!

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.