Yesterday, we celebrated the holiday season early in Wheeling, West Virginia!
Variety partnered with Southwestern Energy on Thursday, November 8th to host a special presentation for local kids in the Wheeling region to receive new adaptive equipment, and we were even joined by Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott!
In total, Variety presented 4 adaptive bikes, 2 adaptive strollers, and 1 communication device, as well as fit 4 more kids for a bike or stroller (i.e. the last step before ordering equipment). Excitingly, two of the kids yesterday received multiple pieces of equipment, as Variety does not put a limit on families receiving more than one piece of equipment. If a child is eligible and can benefit, we want families to have it.
It was a VERY special moment for parents Kathy and Vernon, as they watched their 8-year old boy, Levi receive his very own adaptive bike. It got even more special as Variety fit Levi’s twin sister, Emmalee for HER adaptive bike!
Here’s what Kathy shared with us during the presentation,
“I have twins. This is Emmalee and this is Levi. They are both autistic, and even though Emmalee speaks, she can’t answer yes or no questions to let us know if she was hurt.
Before coming here today, I heard about Variety’s other programs, including their “My Voice” Program, and that’s big for us because we have never heard Levi talk, as he is nonverbal. Recently, Levi has started to verbalize sounds, which is huge for us.
And now for the first time, he’s going to be able to ride a bike after. It is going to give my child more freedom, which is huge!”
It was like “Christmas Morning” for Cheyenne, who received her FIRST EVER bike through Variety’s “My Bike” Program with many other kids during a special event with PlayWorks in Morgantown, WV.
20-year old Cheyenne (pictured below with her mom and sister) has a disability known as Pachygyria, which basically causes her to have the mentality of a four-year-old child, as her mother, JoJo describes.
After receiving her new bike on Tuesday, August 28th, Cheyenne’s story was featured on WDTV, and this piece gave us a personal look into the impact that this bike will have on Cheyenne and her family long-term.
In this piece, her mom, Jojo says, “She loves it! When I came home from work last week she was out riding around with her caregivers and was just yelling at me ‘Mommy look I’m on my bike!”
Check it out by clicking this link: http://www.wdtv.com/content/news/Variety—A-Childrens-Charity-bringing-joy-to-a-local-family-492432681.html
On Monday, July 9th, Colton, age 7 received his new BLUE adaptive bike during a presentation at Easter Seals West Virginia, and it was truly a “dream come true” for him and his family.
When applying to Variety’s “My Bike” Program, Amber told us, “I had given up on the dream of my son riding a bicycle. Finding out that there is a chance is beyond words. The chance for him to build muscles and confidence is wonderful.”
During Monday’s presentation, Amber went further to describe what this day meant, “It’s really impossible to put it into words. I had given up the fact that Colton would ride a bicycle. It was a mixture of disbelief that he was going to get to do something that most children get to do.”
As soon as the family got home, Amber wrote to Variety and said, “Our ride home was a little over an hour, and 90% of it was spent like this with a smile (picture above), unless I was stopped and able to take a picture.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
- WBOY-12: http://www.wboy.com/news/local/monongalia-and-preston/organization-provides-children-with-adaptive-equipment/1034239723
- WDTV-5: http://www.wdtv.com/content/news/WV-children-with-disabilities-get-life-changing-equipment-476594683.html
- The Dominion Post: http://www.dominionpost.com/Charity-presents-bikes-to-childr
Bikes, Bases, & Beauty – A Special Evening In Morgantown, West Virginia!
On August 30th, Variety – the Children’s Charity had the opportunity to present 3 adaptive bikes to children from West Virginia at the Monongalia County Ballpark! This special presentation was made possible in partnership with the WV Black Bears and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia, who helped to sponsor the bikes.
From the smiles on the kids’ faces, to the thrill / experience of them riding their bikes for the first time around the bases, to getting to personally meet the baseball players… this was certainly a night to remember for these three amazing kids and their entire family!
We could not be more grateful to all those who help us, help these extraordinary children find freedom, joy, and belonging through their very own bike.
It was a day of pure joy on April 4, 2014, as U.S. Senator Joe Manchin joined Variety – the Children’s Charity and Robert Kozel, CEO, Mountaineer Keystone LLC (now Arsenal Resources) to kick off Variety’s “My Bike” Program in West Virginia and also present 27 adaptive bikes to children in West Virginia.
Stephanie, mother of Isabella, explained how this bike would impact her daughter by saying,
“This bike will give Isabella opportunity, as she is a very independent little girl and always wants to do new things. We are all very excited about the possibilities this bike will create.”
The launch of “My Bike” in West Virginia is significant because it will not only change the lives of children with disabilities and their families in West Virginia, but also further demonstrate that Variety’s “My Bike” Program in Western Pennsylvania is a model that can be replicated throughout the nation.
“This one-of-a-kind program will provide some of our children in West Virginia living with disabilities the experience of riding a bike,” Senator Manchin said during the April 4th kick off. “The joy they will have when riding their new bikes is priceless. I am incredibly thankful to Variety the Children’s Charity for bringing this project to our state.”
Mountaineer Keystone LLC (now Arsenal Resources) is the Founding Sponsor of Variety’s “My Bike” Program in West Virginia, and during the kick off event, Robert Kozel explained that this program is important to him personally, as it is to honor his aunt and godmother who lived with polio, which significantly impacted her mobility.
Mr. Kozel went further to announce that Mountaineer Keystone LLC (now Arsenal Resources) would sponsor one adaptive bike for every well drilled in West Virginia and that it is his hope that this commitment would spread to his peers.
West Virginia Founding Sponsor: