CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Variety Pittsburgh is a global kids charity that offers equipment for special needs children, offering them an opportunity they otherwise may never experience.
The international charity has offered bikes, strollers, and communication devices for special needs children since 2012. Since the pandemic began, Variety has provided more than 1,200 pieces of equipment.
One special girl, Emma, received her first bike in 2016. She is now 14 years old. and has grown out of her old one. Which is why Thursday, she upgraded to a larger bike. Emma’s mother said, over the last four years – especially this past year, her bike has been essential.
“I think we used the bike more in the 16 months. Because I mean really we didn’t always have time for it every day before, but through the pandemic, even in cold weather we were out there bundled,” said Jaimie Miller, Emma’s mom. “It was a wonderful opportunity for her to be able to have some independence and to be able to ride a bike. Regular standard bike with training wheels was difficult for her, and so this gave her a great opportunity to do with the other kids do.”
Variety Pittsburgh has provided nearly 100 bikes – strollers – and communication devices to children in Centre – Clearfield and Clinton counties. That’s more than $145,000 worth of equipment.
“It’s thrilling for me to know that they are going to be able to be included now. They’re not going to be the child sitting on the porch watching everybody else, they’re out there on their bike,” Charlie LaVallee, the CEO of Variety Pittsburgh said.
A total of five kids received their adaptive bikes Thursday, and an additional four were fitted for one. The fitted bike features a special braking system and handles for parents to hold on to their children. Allowing kids to experience the thrill of riding.
“It’s difficult sometimes for her to navigate outside on the rough ground,” Wendy Lyle said, grandmother and guardian of Aubree, who received her pink bike Thursday. “But, as I said, we have a nice area for her to ride the bike and she’ll be able to ride with her brother. She’s never been able to successfully pedal bike before, this is wonderful.”
Children between the ages of 3-21 can apply by visiting Variety Pittsburgh’s website here.