Liam’s Summer Adventures w/ Adaptive Stroller!

“I wanted to make sure that we shared how absolutely life-changing Liam’s adaptive stroller has been for our family, and I wanted to share photos from our adventures this summer!

The stroller has opened up opportunities for us that I hadn’t even anticipated… We have been able to go on outings as family and feel secure in the fact that Liam is safe and comfortable.

We are now able to eat at restaurants as a family, go on walks as a family, and Liam EVEN went fishing for the first time in his life because of his stroller!

Most people don’t consider the isolation that special needs families go through, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for improving not only Liam’s life, but mine too.

From Liam and our entire family, we thank you!!”

KDKA News Highlights Elopement & Impact of Stroller

In terms of having an immediate impact on a child’s life, and the lives of their whole family, an adaptive stroller has been critical, especially for kids with elopement issues.

However, the need for this equipment, as well as the impact it can have are invisible to the majority of us – e.g. this isn’t your typical toddler stroller.

Don’t miss this transformative news story by KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen that features Kristin, mother of Kolton, who intimately shares the impact of an adaptive stroller with us all.

Pittsburgh-area family credits charity with life-changing device – click the link to watch and share.

The story also features Dr. Alan Kohrt, former Board Member, American Academy of Pediatrics, who provided striking data and expertise on kids with elopement issues (see below).

Thank you for being a part of the Variety community, where IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!

P.S. You can help us spread the word that My Stroller exists by sharing this story with your network – https://www.cbsnews.com/pittsburgh/news/variety-the-childrens-charity-pittsburgh-life-changing-devices/

Joey Experienced Fall w/ Adaptive Stroller

Amanda recently detailed how her son’s adaptive stroller ensured that Joey didn’t miss out on experiencing his favorite time of the year, the FALL!

Amanda began by explaining some of the heart break along Joey’s journey, but the ending is truly all smiles for their whole family – don’t miss reading to the end.

We’re so grateful to Amanda, who shared with us,

Halloween, or maybe just everything ‘Fall’ related, has always been Joey’s favorite time of the year!

He loves the pumpkin patch, corn mazes, apple picking, leaf covered trails, etc.

However, Joey was diagnosed with brain cancer at 5, and his life -saving treatments affected his ability to walk.

Although, he is making great strides with rehabilitation, it’s a very long journey and Joey continues to remain wheelchair-bound at 7 years old.

We tried a simple pumpkin patch last year, with Mom bearing the brunt of the piggy back rides! Fortunately for Joey, he continues to grow as a normal child would. Unfortunately for mom, Joey is heavy!!

Honestly, I didn’t think we would ever be able to navigate Joey’s favorite season/holiday again.

Fall Festivals, especially in hilly Western PA, just aren’t wheelchair friendly beyond the farmer markets…..

We cannot thank you enough for Joey’s stroller that he received in August!

We’ve been to fields, on gravel, and even walked to the local pond with his class.

Today, we ventured to a Fall Festival!!”

Joey’s mom further explained why an adaptive stroller impacts their entire family, by saying,

“Joey’s adaptive stroller helps us navigate terrain that is more difficult for his wheelchair. It allows Joey to attend his brother’s sporting events easier, since many soccer fields are difficult for wheelchairs.

In addition, the stroller helps his grandparents take him places, since the stroller is easier for lifting into their vehicles, and it can fit!

The stroller also helps Joey’s older brother navigate Joey to fun places and not always have to rely on mom and dad to do the pushing!”

With more than 100 applications in-process for kids that need their own adaptive stroller, your support has never been greater for this program.

Embracing Their Struggles & Providing HOPE

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.

Jolie shared,

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.”

“My son elopes all the time…”

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!!

little things are the big things

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.

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!

“Your help is beyond measure & words…”

Jayla’s smile “says it all”, but her mom, Stephanie explains how their lives were truly changed by Variety’s programs.

Last week, Jayla received her new adaptive stroller, and later that night, her mom, Stephanie shared,

“First, I want to thank you again for all your charity has done for my daughter and our family. It is a huge help for us, especially as a one income family just making ends meet. The help you have given us is beyond measure and words.

Both the communication device and adaptive stroller you provided for my daughter are items we would not be able to afford for her and they are incredibly vital to her growth, development and comfort.

Because she has a rare genetic syndrome that many haven’t heard of and research is lacking in, we have a lot of difficulties navigating care tailored for her.

Jayla’s condition causes her to fall a lot, and her body weakens after just a little bit of activity, even a walk. We haven’t been able to go places that require walking because she needs to be carried and that is no easy feat.

This stroller opens up so many things for her – trips to the mall, walks through Target, family walks in the park, and even walks through our neighborhood, which we had to stop when her disability got worse.

Additionally, the communication device was not only a savior for us when she received it in 2020, but the whole process was fast, especially during a pandemic!

Your programs work, they’re needed, and are so appreciated. Jayla’s smile and happiness says it all, but the teddy bear was also a huge hit!”

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!

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.