Williamsport, Pa. -- Learning to ride a bike is something you never forget. For children with disabilities, however, learning to ride a bike is not always possible. On Friday, Aug. 28, a charity and two local organizations worked together to make the impossible, possible.
On Friday, Aug. 28, Variety–the Children's Charity partnered with BLaST Intermediate Unit 17 and Blackburn's, to distribute adaptive mobility equipment to local children with disabilities. The groups distributed over $30,000 worth of equipment, including 15 adaptive bikes and 2 adaptive strollers.
“I’ve tried for years to get Nicholas to ride a traditional bike. He can’t make the pedals work. When he was little, he would ride a big wheel, but never a traditional bike. They had one of these [adaptive] bikes at school and he was able to ride it and laughed the whole time!” said Melissa, who's 14-year-old son, Nicholas, received an adaptive bike.
The distribution was a part of Variety's My Bike Program, which was launched in November 2012. The goal of the program was to impact kid’s lives and build a movement within the community.
The program focuses on the mobility needs of children with disabilities. By ensuring all children can have a bike, regardless of disability, it helps kids have experiences that are fundamental to childhood, like riding a bike.
For many of the children, Friday was their first time riding a bike.
Blayne and his mother came to the distribution right after his first day of high school. Blayne received an adaptive bike and started to ride it around the parking lot. "Can we ride all day," Blayne asked.
”This will be life-changing because he wants to be independent and he will be able to ride with his friends and brothers. As a family, we love the outdoors and we love riding bikes,” said Blayne's mother.
Following the success of the My Bike Program, Variety created two other adaptive equipment programs. The My Stroller Program, which provides adaptive strollers to kids for increased mobility, and the My Voice Program, which provides a communication device to help children communicate.
Variety continued to accept applications for their programs throughout the pandemic and Friday's giveaway was organized to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
"We have found a way to continue presenting this life-changing equipment to kids with disabilities – even in the midst of a pandemic. These times have been particularly difficult for the kids we serve and that makes this event even more special. I’m so grateful to BLaST and Blackburn’s for helping us make it possible. We could not do this without their support and leadership,” said Charlie LaVallee, CEO of Variety – the Children’s Charity.
Since November 2012, nearly 3,500 adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers, and communication devices, more than $5 million worth of adaptive equipment, have been presented to eligible kids throughout Variety’s 71-county service area in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.