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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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!
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:
“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:
Kareem, age 10 received an adaptive 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 time: https://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!
IT’S ALL FOR THE KIDS!
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 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.
May 15, 2020:
Corey received his adaptive bike at Leg Up Farm.
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,
Charles P. LaVallee
Chief Executive Officer
Variety – the Children’s Charity
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!
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!