CLEARFIELD – On Tuesday afternoon, the lives of 10 local kids with disabilities were changed by adaptive equipment that was tailor-made for their needs.
Variety – The Children’s Charity – partnered with the Clearfield County Commissioners to present the equipment as part of the charity’s spring 2019 “Life-Changing Tour for Kids.”
Clearfield marked Variety’s 15th stop and provided $14,700 worth of equipment to kids and their families. Four kids received bicycles, one received a stroller and five received communication devices.
Variety’s tour will make 18 stops and provide over 300 bicycles, strollers and communication devices throughout its 56-county service area in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The adaptive equipment also gives families the gift of hope that their kids will get to experience the same joys as their other siblings, relatives and friends.
For example, Danielle Lavallee of Loganton saw her 11-year-old son, Brock, get stopped in his tracks by Perthes Disease while out hiking last May.
Perthes disease is a rare childhood condition that affects the hip. It causes the blood to stop to the hip, and the hip bone dies. He’s been on crutches and using a wheelchair ever since.
While bike riding is key to strengthening his hip, Danielle said falling off a bike isn’t an option with it being so fragile. “… He could lose his hip forever.”
She shared that Brock has three brothers and a little sister but hasn’t been able to go for bike rides with them. “Now he can; it’s really exciting.”
Sarina, a non-verbal six-year-old, received a communication device, and her mom spoke about how she hopes it gives her daughter “a way to bring us into her world.”
Commissioner Mark B. McCracken said the commissioners have partnered with Variety – The Children’s Charity – about three or four times now.
“A few weeks ago, …. I was asked what’s been the best part about being commissioner. Immediately, I thought of Variety and being part of all the smiles.”
According to Zach Marsh, community relations manager, Variety established its “My Bike” Program in November of 2012 after listening to parents. “And it just erupted with lots of joy.”
He said the bike program grew very quickly, and through its success, the charity was able to add the “My Stroller” and “My Voice” Programs.
“It all came from listening to parents and understanding what they were going through … and not just this day or that day but every day,” Marsh said.
Since then, Variety has presented nearly 3,000 adaptive bikes, adaptive strollers and communication devices to eligible kids, or more than $4.8 million worth of equipment.
For more information about Variety – The Children’s Charity, please visit: https://www.varietypittsburgh.org. A program application is now available online.