Six years ago, Variety kicked off “My Bike” with the presentation of Bike #1 at PNC Park with then Governor Tom Corbett, Pirates’ President Frank Coonelly, PNC’s Andrea Carelli, Highmark’s Deb Rice-Johnson and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. We had an idea at that moment and the desire to impact kids with disabilities.
Six years later, we returned to PNC Park with not only “My Bike”, but “My Stroller” and “My Voice” with all three of these programs changing kids’ lives in dramatic ways. Since November 2012 when “My Bike” kicked off, 2,500 bikes, strollers, and communication devices have been presented and $4.3 Million has been donated to provide this life-changing equipment, and we’ve expanded our service area from 10 Southwestern Pa. counties to 54 counties in Pa. and West Virginia.
I was especially impacted by Clint Hurdle’s words for all of us in the room last Friday,
“To see this type of opportunity is priceless to me. We have a special needs daughter, Maddie, who is 16 years old. She has never ridden a bike and wants no part of a bike. The joy I walk out of here with is seeing the smiles on the faces of you parents and grandparents, and the independence these bikes give your children. I know the joy we get when someone takes a part in our daughter’s life. It makes our journey a little easier.”
Last Friday was not only a flashback to where “My Bike” began and where it has gone today, but Variety also presented 5 adaptive bikes as part of the Pirates’ CARE-a-van that allowed Pirates’ coaches / players to interact and walk alongside our kids, including: Josh Bell, J.T. Brubaker, Cole Tucker, Jacob Cruz, Joey Cora and Justin Meccage. Excitingly, three of the five bikes presented were sponsored by the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Alumni.
Also joining the day’s festivities last Friday was Variety Ambassador James, his sister Krissy, and his mom Mary.
Krissy summed up the bike’s impact by saying, “The day that I rode bikes with my brother for the first time was one of the most amazing days of my life. It may be the very best day ever!”
Thank you for following along with us – we could not be more grateful for you!
P.S. If you have a few minutes, you can watch this short video that portrays our journey from an idea to the impact we are creating today for so many kids.
It was a “home run” at PNC Park on August 13, 2013, as 17 children with disabilities received their very own adaptive bikes through Variety’s “My Bike” Program.
Madyson, age 4, from McKeesport, received her adaptive bike during “The Gift of ‘My Bike’ at PNC Park” event.
Following the event her mother said, “We are so thankful and blessed. We can’t say “thank you” enough. She loves her new red bike.”
Kelly Frey, WTAE Channel 4 News Anchor and mother of Bennett and Marena, summarized the impact of the event by saying, “To be here today, with all these smiling faces and incredible kids is a blessing to witness these 17 kids get bikes today. When I come here and support Variety, it’s because I do so out of the bottom of my heart and as a parent who truly walked in your shoes.”
Jerry MacCleary, President, Bayer MaterialScience and Co-Chair of Variety’s “My Bike” Program also said during the presentation, “I’m in, I’m totally in, I’m committed. We’re going to make a difference. We’ve done a lot so far, we’ve raised enough for 325 bikes, but you know there are thousands of children out there that are in need of a bike, but can’t afford one. So our work’s not done.”
The day it all began…
Variety launched its “My Bike” Program during a press conference with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Monday, November 5, 2012 at PNC Park.
“What a great program to roll out that we can help make children with disabilities mobile, give them freedom, allow them to interact with other children their age who don’t have disabilities… I can’t think of a better program for that mobility and for freedom than ‘My Bike’.” -Governor Corbett at the kick off of Variety’s “My Bike” Program
At the press conference, Variety announced a goal of 200 sponsored adaptive bikes for children with disabilities by Christmas. This goal was later exceeded and Variety received 220 sponsored or pledged adaptive bikes by Christmas 2012.
Aubrey was presented with the first bike of Variety’s “My Bike” Program by Andrea Carelli, Co-Chair of Variety’s “My Bike” Program & Senior Vice President of PNC, and Governor Corbett.
“Aubrey really loves her new bike! It’s her new-found freedom! The best part is… Aubrey doesn’t want to get off! We are so very grateful for this wonderful bike!” -Jill, mother of Aubrey
“When Kody first rode his bike it was like a miracle,” said Kim, Kody’s mom. “Everybody was so amazed that Kody could do something other than be in a wheelchair. It was like he was just this typical child riding a bike with a helmet on and being a normal child.”