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‘My Bike’ program gives children customized bikes

July 31, 2018

On Monday, Variety, a children’s charity based in Pittsburgh, presented 14 pieces of adaptive equipment to children with disabilities in Cambria and Somerset counties.

Variety partnered with Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8 and presented eight bikes, one stroller and five communication devices to children in need in a ceremony at the Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center in Richland Township.

The “My Bike” program was started in 2012. Since then, Variety has presented nearly $300,000 in adaptive equipment to children in Bedford, Blair, Cambria and Somerset counties.

Variety has presented more than 2,500 pieces of adaptive equipment to eligible children in its 54-county service area in Pennsylvania and West Virginia since the program started.

Charlie LaVallee, CEO of Variety, said the Intermediate Unit is a big part of making this possible for the children.

“We are an organization out of Pittsburgh,” LaVallee said. “We don’t have a personal connection with the children and their families, but the people of IU do. They’re the ones who suggest this to the kids and their families to make it possible.”

Families apply to receive this adaptive equipment, and the chosen children and families are presented with their equipment during a special presentation. Once chosen, the children have a “fitting” to get their bike or stroller custom-made just for them and their needs.

On Monday $21,900 in adaptive equipment was donated to children of Somerset and Cambria counties.

A few weeks ago Variety gave bikes to a group of kids in a ceremony at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

“The kids got to ride their bikes through the tunnel the Steelers come out onto the field while they were shown on the big screen,” LaVallee said.

New to the program are pink bikes for the girls. Having black and gold bikes in the future was discussed.

Along with the “My Bike” program are the “My Stroller” and “My Voice” programs, through which children are presented with a new stroller or a communication device.

Sabrina Foy, of Somerset, was the recipient of a new stroller at Monday’s event.

“Her wheelchair is too heavy,” her mother, Donna Foy, said. “With this new stroller she can go camping.”

After the children were presented with their bikes and strollers, a parade was held. Family members had the opportunity to watch and assist the children as they rode their new bikes down the halls of the technology center.

Following the bike and stroller parade, five more children were presented with their communication devices through the “My Voice” program.

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