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Variety’s Freedom “My Bike Program” October 23, 2014 10:56 PM - Variety Pittsburgh

The experiences that many of us took for granted growing up are the ones that Variety makes possible, such as having the opportunity to go Trick-or-Treating in an accessible environment, visiting with Santa Claus in a safe / comfortable atmosphere, and even riding a bike for the first time.

Specifically, Variety’s “My Bike” Program provides adaptive bikes that are individually customized to eligible children with disabilities, so that they can experience the joy, freedom, and belonging that comes from riding a bike.

Emily’s feelings of joy from riding a bike for the very first time in her life really help to show the impact that these adaptive bikes are having on children – giving them moments to feel happy and proud http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_AUWSN68rQ.

Since Variety’s “My Bike” Program kicked off in November 2012, more than 650 adaptive bikes have been sponsored for eligible kids (with the cost to sponsor one adaptive bike being $1,800).

Variety has heard repeatedly from parents that these bikes are life-changing not only for the child, but for the entire family. They are giving children with disabilities the opportunity to discover the possibilities for their lives and to experience moments that many of us would mark as childhood milestones (e.g. riding a bike).

Laura said, “I cannot describe the feelings of Joy that I feel when Connor rides his bike ‘as fast as he can’ and all you hear from him is a gut wrenching laugh that becomes infectious to me as I try to keep up with him…that is something you don’t always see in a child that can’t always do what typical kids do, but the more he rides the more typical he becomes.”

Additionally, Mary, mother of James also explains the impact that the adaptive bike has created for James and their entire family by saying,

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the surge of joy that I feel when I see James on his bike – dreams really do come true. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a couple weeks after receiving his bike, James walked independently for the first time, taking 14 steps from our kitchen into our living room… All by himself! This bike is more than just three wheels, a handle bar and a seat. It’s a doorway to freedom.”

Most recently, a number of Variety’s kids had the chance to ride their bikes in the 2014 Pittsburgh Labor Day Parade (one of the largest in the nation). Watch why this day gave our kids another opportunity to (as Variety kid Brian said) “show my abilities to the world” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFiTmFUQZwI&list=UUMzYyxhaYfaZEG_AcGN9QBQ.

To learn more about Variety’s “My Bike Program”, please visit www.varietypittsburgh.org

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