Range again hosted a bike presentation for Variety – The Children’s Charity of Pittsburgh, an organization that enables children with disabilities to live life to the fullest with a focus on mobility, communication and social inclusion. Variety’s CEO, Charlie LaValle presented 12 bikes, 9 strollers and 9 communications devices that will help make life easier for the disabled children who received them.
“Through Range’s relationship with Variety we have been able to experience firsthand the smiles and joy when a child receives his or her bike or other specialized equipment for the first time,” said Erin McDowell, Range’s Vice President – Deputy General Counsel who serves as a Variety board member. “We are moved by the enthusiasm that Charlie brings to each presentation, and how he makes each child and family feel incredibly special.”
This year as a surprise to the Variety team, Range presented a $5,000 check to help them continue supporting and empowering disabled children. The adaptive equipment may seem simple, but the bikes total around $1,800, the strollers around $1,500 and the communication devices around $1,200. The total cost of the 30 pieces of equipment presented at Range’s office was nearly $50,000.
“It is an amazing thing that two organizations like Range and Variety are working together to provide kids with the ability to do things they never thought they would be able to do,” said Karen Waldron, who was one of the parents in attendance on Thursday.
This program gave employees the opportunity to witness a life-changing experience for the kids and families who attended. Children with disabilities often miss out on the little things we take for granted, such as riding a bike with friends or easily going out to dinner with family. According to Charlie LaValle, the goal of the organization is simply to provide them with every opportunity possible.
“What’s so fundamental to us is making sure that these kids are not left out,” said LaValle. “They just want to do what everyone else is doing, instead of being excluded.”
Variety – The Children’s Charity of Pittsburgh started the My Bike program in 2012. While the task was to provide disabled children with customized adaptive bikes, the goal was to give them a sense of belonging and inclusion. In 2014, the My Stroller and My Voice programs were established to provide additional support through adaptive strollers and communication devices.
“A lot of the time in families who have a child with disabilities, they end up having separate experiences because one parent will stay with the child at home while the rest of the family goes out,” said LaValle. “This equipment allows the kids to get involved and engaged in shared family experiences.”
Some children who live with communication or speech disorders have an extremely difficult time expressing their wants and needs. LaValle recalled a time when a parent explained how the communication device allowed her son to explain specifically what he wanted for lunch that day: two hot dogs and a strawberry milk. Without the device, a small task like that would have been difficult and frustrating.
“Once I was in a home with a child who used his communication device to tell his grandmother that he loved her for the first time, and that was awesome,” said LaValle. “Aren’t we all meant to hear “I love you” and to express it, as well as show it?”
Range has been working with Variety since 2017 to help ensure that every child in need can receive life-changing adaptive equipment. The presentation engaged employees, members of the Variety Board of Directors, and local elected officials including State Representative Tim O’Neal, Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughn, Washington County Commissioner Elect Nick Sherman and a representative from the office of Senator Pam Iovino. O’Neal and Sherman had the honor of leading the parade of children as they rode their bikes for the first time around the Range lobby.
“With this being our 3rd holiday-themed presentation at Range, I can say that the entire team makes our kids and families feel like celebrities every year,” Said Zachary Marsh, the Community Relations manager for Variety – The Children’s Charity.
The Variety Bike Presentation has become a holiday tradition over the last three years and will continue for years to come.
“Last Thursday’s presentation was nothing short of magic, and we couldn’t be more grateful for our partnership with Range to change the lives of kids with disabilities,” said Marsh.
To learn more about Variety – The Children’s Charity of Pittsburgh and get involved, visit https://www.varietypittsburgh.org/.