Charity Transforms Lives of Local Kids with Adaptive Equipment

Yosie Tkacik, 6, of Curwensville expressed excitement over the sight of her new adaptive bike Thursday. (Photo by GANT News Editor Jessica Shirey)

CLEARFIELD – Variety – the Children’s Charity – partnered again with the Clearfield County Commissioners to transform the lives of local kids with disabilities, while riding through the area on Variety’s “United Together for Kids” Tour.

During a special presentation Thursday afternoon, Variety presented three adaptive bikes, two adaptive strollers and six communication devices at the county’s Administrative Office building. In total, it came out to be more than $15,000 worth of adaptive equipment.

Among the children was Yosie Tkacik, 6, of Curwensville, who received her new adaptive bike. Her mother, Jessica, shared how much this means to her daughter.

“Yosie has three siblings, Louis, Tuck and Lucy, who love to race their bikes down the long dirt path outside of our house with squeals and laughter,” she said.

“Yosie stands at the end of the sidewalk with her feet firmly planted on the ground watching as they race by.

“She squawks in excitement as she notices her big siblings ripping and racing on their two-wheeled bikes. ‘Come on, Yosie. Let’s race,’ yells her brother Louis as he passes by.”

Jessica added, “Oh, how she would love to join in on this innocent childhood fun.” However, she said her daughter cannot because she has some limitations.

“Yosie isn’t able to hop on a bike and go all by herself yet, but she has the potential to learn with a bit of practice and assistance. This bike will give her that opportunity.”

Yosie Tkacik, 6, of Curwensville, is shown on her new bike for the first time with her father, Joshua, at her side. (Photo by GANT News Editor Jessica Shirey)

Her father, Joshua, shared the story of how Yosie became part of their family three years ago. He said Yosie spent the first three years of her life in an orphanage – alone – in Bulgaria.

Since she’s been home, he said so many “near and dear” people, particularly their church family, have sacrificed so much so that she can really enjoy her life.

“A program like this, available to our family, is just a testimony,” Joshua said. “It’s speaking up for people who cannot speak for themselves.

“This is an answered prayer for us because we’re a big family and we’re active … now she can rip and tear with her brothers and sister. Thank you, it means so much to us.”

The six kids who received communication devices will now be able to tell stories, express emotions, ask for help and interact with others. Their devices will also allow them to capture memorable moments with its camera.

In addition to the 11 kids receiving their new equipment, Variety also fitted another local child for an adaptive bike on Thursday, which is the last step in the process.

Yosie Tkacik, 6, of Curwensville, is shown riding her new bike outside of the county’s Administrative Office building in the bike parade. (Photo by GANT News Editor Jessica Shirey)

Variety’s “United Together for Kids” Tour will include 10 stops this May, in which the charity will present more than 150 adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers and communication devices throughout its 54-county service area.

Variety is still searching for eligible children who could benefit from their own adaptive bike, adaptive stroller and communication device, and is hoping that the community can help spread the word, so that “no kid misses out on life-changing equipment.”

Variety offers adaptive equipment through three programs, including:

  • Variety’s “My Bike” Program, which currently provides Rifton adaptive bikes to eligible kids to give them freedom, joy and belonging created through a bike;
  • Variety’s “My Stroller” Program, which currently provides Kid Kart Might Lite adaptive strollers to eligible children to give them “on-the-go” mobility and easily participate in activities in the community; and
  • Variety’s “My Voice” Program, which provides communication devices (currently an iPad with a prescribed communication app) to eligible children to give them a voice at all times.

Jayde Dunlap, 11, of Houtzdale was all smiles after receiving her communication device Thursday. (Photo by GANT News Editor Jessica Shirey)

Charles LaVallee, Variety’s chief “excitement” officer, said the charity is based out of Pittsburgh and not well-known in rural areas, such as Clearfield County.

He said he reaches out to county commissioners because they have credibility in their communities and can help them reach families with children in need.

LaVallee said it’s completely OK for kids to receive adaptive equipment from more than one Variety program. He said it’s his wishes to empower parents to do what’s best for their kids.

“You guys – the moms and dads, the grandmas and grandpas, the brothers and sisters – are the heroes,” he said. “We’re just the helpers, along with the commissioners. All of us want your kids to live life to the fullest.”

LaVallee said he does the kid’s tour in May because of Mother’s Day. When you give a gift to a child, he said “you’re giving it to mom, too.”

Commissioner Mark B. McCracken thanked the families for sharing this moment with the commissioners. He said for him, it will be the happiest moment of his day, week and entire month.

Background  

Variety launched its “My Bike” Program five-and-a-half years ago in November of 2012 to impact kids’ lives and build a movement within the community.

From the success of “My Bike”, Variety was able to create two other adaptive equipment programs, “My Stroller” that provides adaptive strollers to children for increased mobility, and “My Voice” that provides a communication device to give children a voice at all times.

Since November of 2012, nearly 2,500 adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers and communication devices have been sponsored for eligible kids throughout Variety’s 54-county service area in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. That is the equivalent of more than $3.7 million worth of adaptive equipment.

For more information about Variety – The Children’s Charity, visit: https://www.varietypittsburgh.org. A program application is now available online.

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