Most Incredible Variety Video EVER!

This might be our most incredible video ever highlighting the impact of Variety’s “My Bike” and “My Voice” Programs.

Once again, Variety was given the opportunity to speak to hundreds of labor leaders from around Pennsylvania this week. These labor leaders were deeply moved by the video (video above) and committed to doing even more for Variety. Plus, we were presented with a $3,000 check to sponsor another bike and device!

The experience was especially meaningful for USW District 10 Director, Bobby “Mac” McAuliffe, who rode an adaptive bike into the conference to great celebration by everyone in attendance (photo above). It was great for the attendees to see the USW Director for Pa. ride an adaptive bike and to realize how important the bike would be if it was their child or grandchild.

We are overwhelmed with gratitude by the support, commitment, and time that has been given to Variety and our kids, but we know how much more is still needed. Let’s keep things rolling forward, together!

34 More Kids Are Finding Possibilities!

34 More Kids Received Life-Changing Equipment. Something that will help them find greater possibilities for their own lives!

Connor, age 8 is pictured above with excitement on his new RED adaptive bike!

“Connor would love to go bike riding with his two brothers in the neighborhood. This bike will make him feel like a normal boy who has his own bike. He also received an adaptive stroller from Variety, and it has made life a lot easier. We can go anywhere, and Connor doesn’t feel uncomfortable like he does in his wheelchair because people point and stare.” -said Debra, Connor’s grandmother


This past Wednesday, July 25th, Variety presented 34 more pieces of adaptive equipment to kids with disabilities at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall hosted by Blackburn’s.

These children (like Connor) now have an opportunity to discover EVEN MORE possibilities for their lives, and be a kid, first and foremost.

Ryan, age 17 received an adaptive stroller and communication device on Wednesday.

Ryan is pictured above left with his best friend Jacob a Variety Ambassador. Ryan shakes Jacob’s hand in joyful surprise that he’s in attendance at the presentation.

It was a surprise for Ryan to see his best friend, Jacob at Wednesday’s presentation, but the two couldn’t have been more excited. They both play for the Mighty Pens sled hockey team, and Jacob has been volunteering his time as an Ambassador to Variety to help impact more kids.

Ryan’s mom, Sue described what this equipment would mean by saying,

“With this stroller, Ryan can go out with his siblings without mom, or with extended family or friends who don’t have an adaptive van to transport his wheelchair. He’s going to be 18 soon and he wants that. The device will also make a huge difference. Our family has gotten very good over the years with understanding him, but Ryan can now tell us why he’s feeling the way he is or be able to ask us questions. There was no way before for him to do that.”

To make the day even more special, Ryan used his new communication device immediately on Wednesday to talk to his best friend, Jacob.

You can watch what Ryan had to say by clicking here.

Here’s to even more smiles and possibilities rolling on through the summer months!

   

Janessa Shared Her “New Voice” Before 15 Kids Received Equipment!

On Friday, March 23rd, Variety presented life-changing equipment at the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) to 15 local kids with disabilities with each piece individually tailored to meet their needs.

Prior to our presentation, Janessa, age 11 kicked things off by demonstrating how she uses her communication device – her new voice – that she received from Variety last November.

Janessa is pictured with her mom and Variety’s CEO.

Since receiving her device, Janessa has been featured in two television spots through Highmark’s Living Proof campaign, one in which she uses her device to talk with her doctor for the first time, and then another to order food at a restaurant for the first time.

One of the most meaningful moments of the event was hearing Janessa’s mom, Julie update us on the progress and impact that has taken place for Janessa, and ultimately, her entire family since receiving her device (her new voice) – click below.

To give you even more to smile about, thanks to Janessa, three of her classmates received communication devices as well, including Ryan, age 9, who was more than a little excited.

Ryan is pictured above with his mom holding his new voice!

His mother, Monique gave voice to how life-changing this device would be by saying,

“Ryan’s greatest ability is his love of reaching out to people and attempting to communicate his wants and needs. He often launches into very long and animated stories complete with hand gestures and big laughs. Unfortunately, his educators, classmates, and many loved ones cannot understand him because they are his own made up words and not real words.

Ryan’s life would improve exponentially with a communication device. As a parent, its heartbreaking to see this deficit. We truly believe a communication device along with hard work on our part, Ryan’s enthusiasm and this device could change his entire social, educational, and emotional lifestyle.”

The March 23rd presentation also featured a terrific “equipment parade” with cheers of celebration that I’m sure you’ll enjoy – click here to watch for yourself.

A Day to Remember in West Virginia

To our knowledge, history was made yesterday in Morgantown, West Virginia for kids with disabilities.

In one afternoon, Variety hosted the largest presentation of adaptive equipment for children with disabilities with 45 kids receiving equipment (worth more than $70,000) – including 26 adaptive bikes, 8 adaptive strollers, and 11 communication devices.

Above is a photo from the Dominion Post that appeared on the front page of The Dominion Post!

As we have all come to experience, the kids were truly the stars of the show, like Deklan, age 7, who couldn’t have been more excited as he continually gave “thumbs up” in response to getting his brand new blue adaptive bike!

Deklan gives two thumbs with pride standing next to his new blue bike!

His mother, Tiffany said with tears,

“Deklan was born at 24 weeks weighing 1lb, 3 oz. and spent close to six months in the NICU. He’s had 5 eye surgeries, a heart surgery, blood transfusions, and he was on oxygen for the first year of his life… he’s been through a lot with many of his surgeries being lifesaving. However, today is a milestone day for Deklan, as he will have his own bike and experience the freedom of riding it, and gain the confidence and the security that he needs to do so on his own.”

Another highlight yesterday was two teenagers, Hannah and Macey, who are best friends.

They did not know until they arrived at the presentation and saw each other that they were both receiving an adaptive bike of their own.

Pictured above is Hannah and Macey – all smiles!

Hannah received a blue bike and Macey a pink one, and they spent the afternoon jumping up and down with joy, hugging each other, screaming with excitement, and telling their parents about all the bike riding they were going to do together. They even got to enjoy the bike parade together.

I wish everyone could have been there to see this phenomenal moment of joy that these two best friends shared – we are so fortunate to be a part of it these beautiful moments.

Check out these three news pieces that came from this beautiful day.

Can you help us spread the word?

Variety – the Children’s Charity of Pittsburgh is striving to identify & serve every eligible child that could benefit from its adaptive equipment programs.

Do you know of any children with disabilities that could benefit from an adaptive bike, adaptive stroller, and/or communication device? Variety is currently serving kids in 54 counties in Pa. & WV.

These programs are life changing for kids & their families, but Variety needs help with spreading the word, so no family misses out on these opportunities.

Visit www.varietypittsburgh.org or call their office at 724-933-0460 to learn more or apply. These programs are no cost to eligible families, and you can apply for one, two, or all three programs if your child can benefit!

Madon is all smiles on his new blue bike!
Destiny is feeling comfy in her new adaptive stroller!
All smiles holding his new device – his new voice!

“No Child Without A Voice” Campaign

On Tuesday, August 22nd, Variety – the Children’s Charity and Edgar Snyder & Associates held a Press Conference to launch the “No Child Without A VoiceCampaign, and to publicly unveil ESA’s newest television spot featuring Variety’s “My Voice” Program!

Tyler and his family are pictured above with Variety CEO, Charlie LaVallee while filming for the newest Edgar Snyder & Associates’ tv spot.

This campaign kicks off the 2017 school year to identify every eligible child that could benefit from Variety’s “My Voice” Program.

Why is “My Voice” important? Imagine spending months trying to figure out why your daughter is crying every night to learn that there was something stuck in her ear. Imagine spending hours in the supermarket with your child to figure what they want to eat. Imagine never hearing your son or daughter say, “I love you.” These are the types of comments that parents have told us.

Variety’s “My Voice” is helping to unlock the wants, needs, feelings, and thoughts that our kids have inside, but don’t have a way to say them on their own.

Charles LaVallee, Variety CEO, highlighted the importance of the campaign by saying, This isn’t just about providing equipment. This is about building a movement to get society to recognize that these kids deserve the opportunity to communicate. That’s why we’re so fortunate to have our partnership with Edgar Snyder & Associates, and them bringing awareness to this unmet need.”

Edgar Snyder & Associates has been partnering with Variety for nearly 5 years to help raise funds and identify eligible children that could benefit from its programs. Attorney Edgar Snyder said, “Our law firm has long been a supporter of Variety – the Children’s Charity and its programs for children with disabilities. We see how adaptive equipment like bicycles and strollers has changed the lives of children and their families throughout western Pennsylvania. Now we want to help get the word out about Variety’s newest program, “My Voice”, to help as many kids as we can.”

Another long-term partner of Variety has been the United Steelworkers. Tom Conway, Vice President Administration, USW shared, “USW is honored to have sponsored 25 communication devices and we are participating in the identification campaign among our own members, as well as the broader community.”

The Press Conference was all about providing these extraordinary kids, with amazing possibilities. About giving kids a voice to express their choices, personality, feelings, and needs.

LaVallee went further to say, “Variety is excited to have partners like Edgar Snyder & Associates and USW come together to help these kids who are often unseen. We are committed to identifying every single eligible child, so that no child is without a voice of their own.”

Thanks to Sarah Arbogast (KDKA) for joining us at yesterday’s event with Edgar Snyder & Associates! http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2017/08/22/technology-giving-children-disabilities-voice/

Westmoreland County Commissioners Host Special Presentation

County Commissioner Gina Cerilli laughs with Lacie Carl, 10, of Penn Township during an event with Variety, the Children’s Charity – where children received specialized iPads and adaptive bikes at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the Westmoreland County neighborhood, as Variety presented a number of adaptive bikes / adaptive strollers, as well as 10 communication devices with the Westmoreland County Commissioners!

Madelyn DePhillips, 4, of Irwin shows her bear to Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas during an event sponsored by Variety, the Children’s Charity at the county courthouse in Greensburg. Madelyn received an iPad with software that will help her communicate with her parents.

We were thankful to have TribLive Westmoreland join us to capture the day & help us, help more kids! Check out the piece by clicking this link:  http://triblive.com/…/12546040-74/charity-gives-kids-a-voice

County Commissioner Charles Anderson pushes Seth Fiedor, 13, of Arnold on his new adaptive bike outside the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Seth received the bike from Variety, the Children’s Charity.

Case’s New Voice

Case is pictured above trying out his new device at the presentation.

Case’s mom, Elizabeth told us, “This device will give Case a voice that is clear and understandable to everyone, and we are so grateful.”

Immediately after receiving his device, Case used it to order for himself at Applebee’s!

Case is ready to use his new voice.

Variety’s “My Voice” Program is helping our extraordinary kids share their thoughts, feelings, needs, and even personalities, and it is incredible!

Special Presentation w/ Leo Gerard at USW

On Tuesday, June 6th, Variety had an incredibly exciting morning at the United Steelworkers International headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh!

Leo Gerard, USW International President and USW had sponsored 10 communication devices recently, and we started our identification efforts right away to all USW members. On Tuesday, Leo and Variety CEO, Charlie LaVallee presented the first two communication devices to children of USW members. This special presentation was made even more extraordinary as Leo invited about 80 USW members to the lobby of the building to share in the joy of these kids receiving their new devices.

One of the two kids to receive his very own voice was Tyler, age 5, who immediately began using the device at the event. Tyler’s mom, Jen just sent this message to us today:

“We just wanted to thank all of you again so much for yesterday!!! Tyler has not put it down since he got it. He is so happy to have his new device. He was able to type out a sentence and tell us exactly what he wanted for lunch. He’s so proud of himself and loves being able to show us what he needs!!! He has had the biggest smile and has been showing it to everyone he sees! We appreciate everything so much more than you will ever know!”

Tyler is all smiles with his new communication device above, which he used to say what he wanted to eat and drink!

Additionally, Tyler’s grandmother, Colleen wrote to us last night, saying, “Our family is so appreciative of what your organization has done for Tyler. It was a very impressive presentation and having the employees watch was awesome. He has put it around his neck when he walks and is so proud of it. He has been spelling words and practicing what he wants to say. We are forever grateful for giving Tyler a voice.”

Check out this news article that appeared on the USW International website!

Lastly, Leo’s words regarding the communication device had a simple, but significant impact. He said, “I don’t view it as a cost, I view it as an investment.” Variety sincerely thanks Leo and all of USW for their support, commitment, and passion to change the lives of children with disabilities.

A Two-Tacular Tuesday!

It’s a Two-Tacular Tuesday! Last night, two children’s lives were changed at Variety’s 32nd Golf Invitational that took place on Monday, June 5, 2017 at the Fox Chapel Golf Club.

Madon received his new adaptive bike & Logan received his new communication device – to cheers from event attendees.

Madon is pictured on his new bike with his two siblings by his side!
Madon is pictured with his family, Variety’s Board Chair, Mike Schneck, Variety’s Board President, Deb Rice-Johnson, and Variety’s CEO, Charlie LaVallee!

It was with excitement that Madon rode his bike for the very first time through the crowd with his family by his side. Once he started riding, he simply did not want to stop!

 

Logan previously received his adaptive bike three years ago at Variety’s 2014 Golf Invitational, and he returned to this year’s event in order to receive his new communication device – his own voice. 

Logan is pictured above after getting his bike in 2014. Immediately after receiving it, he went home and continued to ride it through his neighborhood.

Logan’s mom, Melissa also highlighted what her son’s new voice would mean by saying,

“Logan is a very social child and LOVES to be around other children – but his speech is hard to understand at times and limits his peer interactions. This device will make it possible for Logan’s school peers and other in the community to understand what he would like to say, provide him with independence and greater possibilities, and increase his safety, which is our biggest concern.”

Variety could not be more grateful to ALL of the sponsors & supporters that committed to making this year’s Golf Invitational possible.

A special shout out to our 2017 Title Sponsor, Highmark who continually makes it all about the kids! We are also so grateful to our Double Eagle Sponsor, BLACKBURN’S, and Eagle Sponsors, Covestro, Rob Kozel & Family, Sebring & Associates, & Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy! See a full list of sponsors and supporters by clicking here.