Variety, a charity that gives away adaptive bikes, strollers and communication devices for children with disabilities, will be taking their services on the road this spring.
The “Life Changing” tour began in late March and will continue into May. They will make 15 stops throughout Pennsylvania and West Virginia to give away 150 products, as well as fit 35 children for their new devices.
The organization's kickoff event took place last week, with a “bike parade” at St. Francis University in Loretto, Pa. Eight individuals received new bikes.
Variety has expanded to 50 counties across the two states. This will be the first time it will offer all three devices in all of its locations.
“This is the biggest event in terms of getting out into all these new counties we’ve absorbed,” said Charlie LaVallee, Variety CEO.
The adaptive bikes and strollers are fitted for each child’s height, build and special requirements. The communication devices, iPads fitted with communication software, are tailored by a speech language pathologist for each child’s specific needs.
LaVallee said as the warm weather approaches, families in rural areas can give their children the opportunity to get out and play.
“Many of these parents out here have no idea, for example, that there are these adaptive bikes," he said. "To put it simply, how can you apply for something that you don’t know exists?”
LaVallee said 40 percent of parents hear about Variety’s services through their child’s educators.
“But 20 percent, one out of five families, hear from us through the media or by word of mouth, so I really can’t stress enough how important it is to get this word out,” he said.
According to its website, Variety was started in Pittsburgh in 1928 and has since expanded into an international organization with more than 40 offices.