Variety at Little League World Series Parade!

On Monday night, three kids got to ride their adaptive bikes in the 17th Grand Slam Parade in Williamsport, PA to kick-off the Little League World Series!

It was a magical chance for the kids to participate, be celebrated, and simply, show their abilities to the world.

Several years ago, when we first expanded into the Williamsport region, former Governor Tom Corbett (Variety Board President) immediately had the idea for the kids to ride their adaptive bikes in the LLWS parade, but it was put on hold due to the pandemic.

This idea was fully realized alongside our partners at BLaST Intermediate Unit 17, who made it possible for us to participate in the parade.

Don’t miss this brief story from FOX-56 on what a milestone it is for the kids to be includedhttps://fox56.com/news/local/adaptive-bikes-bring-joy-and-inclusion-for-local-children-at-parade-highlighting-life-changing-initiative#

Next year, we hope even more kids can be included in the Grand Slam Parade on their bikes AND strollers.

A big thanks to Governor Corbett for making the journey out to Williamsport to participate with us and enjoy the celebration.

During the parade, we got to spend time with Michelle, whose daughter, Mikki received all 3 pieces of equipment from Variety (pictured above with Governor Corbett and myself).

Michelle explained that Mikki does so great in school with her communication device, but at home, Michelle doesn’t know how to use it with her.

As a result, Michelle still doesn’t know what Mikki wants, what she needs, what she’s thinking… When I asked her if a training would be beneficial to her to utilize the device at home, she immediately said yes.

We are hopeful we can be the catalyst for trainings for Michelle, and other families, who need more training to empower their child to communicate as fully as possible.

Big Smiles for Gia

Gia’s smile was a sight to see, as she tested out her new adaptive bike! It was her second after outgrowing her first bike, and Gia’s mom, Daria explained how important it is for her daughter, by saying,

“Gia was gifted her first bike in Kindergarten and she was thrilled. Her adaptive tricycle allowed her to not only exercise, but also actively participate with her sister.

At first she needed quite a bit of help steering and paying better attention, but she is gradually improving. Our hope is that she can learn to fully steer on her own and of course safely exercise as well.

We also believe when she is able to ride the bike completely on her own she will gain a tremendous amount of confidence that will hopefully spill over into other aspects of her life.”

At the presentation, Gia’s dad, Doug told us, “This bike is another form of exercise for her! We have a treadmill at home, but the bike is much more enjoyable for Gia (and fun). She outgrew her other adaptive bike right when she was getting the hang of steering it, so when we found out we could get a second one, we instantly applied!”

Family Experiences Are Now Possible

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!

Click the image above to watch Matteo riding his bike!

Variety Kids on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood!

With the greatest excitement, we wanted to share a recent episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids – featuring Variety kids Sam, Emily, and Sadie riding their adaptive bikes, and Sadie’s sister, Hadley on her two-wheeled bike.

Fred Rogers certainly would have loved seeing kids with special needs being included and riding their adaptive bikes for “the world” to celebrate.

Sam, Emily, Sadie, and Hadley are featured at the 11-minute mark of the episode, and you can watch it now by clicking this link!

Being on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood creates a multitude of visibility – not only by educating others on an adaptive bike, but by showing the world what these extraordinary kids can do.

We hope you’ll take a minute to share the episode with your networks, especially to celebrate Sam, Emily, Sadie, and Hadley!

Jaylen & Matthew Got Back Independence

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!

“It’s a joy to watch kids being kids!”

End this year with a smile by reading what an adaptive bike has meant for Reese, who was smiling from ear-to-ear when she received her second bike!

Reese’s mom, Jamie put into words what an adaptive bike has meant,

“We struggle with weight and the pandemic has been a challenge for us, as we haven’t had our regular routines of going out and doing regular organized activities.

Bike riding though, is one form of exercise she is willing to do and enjoys. We currently go for walks but for any kind of distance she requires the wheelchair which kind of defeats the purpose of getting activity in.

With the bike, we have the opportunity to get her some additional activity in the evenings, so we can both work together on our health goals… and also have fun while doing it!

Several of Reese’s friends from school have adaptive bikes as well, and a group of 3 or 4 plan outings (with their parents) to ride bikes on trails as a group!

Trust me, the social impact of having an adaptive bike provides an incredibly powerful inducement to get the kids outside, and to also push hard, as they race each other and have the fun that typical kids experience on their bikes.

It’s a joy to watch and experience kids being kids, especially when they don’t always have that opportunity due to their physical circumstances.”

As always, thank you all so much for being a part of the Variety community, where it’s truly ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year,

Mobility Presentation at Covestro – December 12, 2022

As the first snow of 2022 fell on Monday, Dec. 12, Variety’s kids were warm and joyful inside Covestro’s facility as they received bikes their new bikes and strollers through Variety’s My Bike® and My Stroller® programs. Whether it be their first or second time, the kids were ecstatic to try out their shiny, new adaptive equipment.

Gia is all smiles on her new bike – photo by JJ LaBella.

Gia received her second bike at the presentation, and her parents expressed how far she had come in the time she had her old one.

Daria said, “She can steer on her own in therapy. I think there was a lot going on for her and she was overwhelmed today, so it was harder for her to focus on steering.”

Gia was right behind Mike Schneck, Variety Board Chairman, in the bike parade, and gained on him quickly, though she didn’t have recent practice outside of therapy because she had grown out of her old one.

Daria said, “We’re getting this second one because she outgrew her first one. There’s a bigger one at PT (physical therapy), but she hasn’t ridden at home since she outgrew her old one.”

Gia’s father, Doug , explained that he’s glad to get Gia another bike for at-home riding because he hopes it will make exercise more appealing.

“It’s another form of exercise. It’s hard to get her to exercise, so this will be great,” Doug said, “We have a treadmill at home, but the bike is more enjoyable for her.”

Doug also expressed how happy he was to have another one at home for Gia to ride.

Doug said, “she outgrew her other one right when she was getting the hang of steering it, so when we found out that we could get another one, we applied immediately.”

Variety gives kids the ability to have a lifetime of riding as they can apply for a second bike at least three years after they received their first one. As long as families and kids still meet Variety’s requirements, the kids are eligible for two pieces of the same equipment!

For other kids at the program, it was their first piece of adaptive equipment from Variety, and the parents talked about how this new way of getting around will impact their child’s and family’s lives.

Pictured above is Cristobal testing out his new stroller!

Cristobal had never received equipment from Variety before, but on Monday he was receiving both a stroller and a bike. His mom, Maria  explained how she expects both pieces of equipment to positively impact Cristobal’s life.

“Cristobal doesn’t like to walk long distances, so I bought him another stroller from the store, but his legs still touched the ground. It was a risk for his legs to hang like that,” Maria explained, “With the bike, I’m hoping that it will help exercise his legs and help him to walk longer distances.”

She hopes that the bike will enable Cristobal to get out into the community for longer periods of time, but she has other expectations for the stroller. She hopes that he My Stroller® program will help to get Cristobal out into the community and do it safely.

Leon also hopes to use it to take Cristobal and the rest of the family to church. She was most appreciative that she could apply for both the Stroller and the Bike at the same time.

Leon explained, “I felt very blessed that we could receive both because I thought we would have to choose.”

Anyone who fits the criteria for equipment can apply for one or all three of the programs that Variety has.

Pictured above – Carleigh testing out her new stroller.

Carleigh also received a stroller from Variety on Monday. While she had an adaptive stroller before, it was not one provided by Variety.

Her mom, Melissia , explained that the stroller will provide opportunities for Carleigh to experience the world safely again. Carleigh is too big for strollers made for typical children, and though the family has tried multiple strollers, they are all too easy for Carleigh to tip.

“She outgrew her stroller and was tipping them,” Melissia explained. “Without this program, I wouldn’t be able to do our day to day. It was either stay at home or put her at risk.”

Melissa shared the plans they had following the presentation and receiving the new equipment.

Melissa said, “We’re going to pick up her siblings and we’re heading to the grocery store after this!”

Variety aims to help kids be kids, and with Carleigh’s new equipment, she can get out into the community like her brothers and sisters!

Celebrating 10 Years of My Bike!

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.

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)!

Celebrating #5,000 – United Together for KIDS!

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.