Adaptive bikes keep disabled children from being left out
Variety, the Children's Charity, provides communication, mobility for children with disabilities at York Learning Center in North York, Tuesday, May 14, 2019. York Dispatch
A Pittsburgh-based charity teamed up with Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12 on Tuesday to provide $24,300 worth of equipment to children with disabilities.
Variety-the Children's Charity stopped by York Learning Center — eighth on the organization's 19-stop tour — to hand out 17 bicycles, strollers and communication devices that had been customized to fit individual needs.
Sophia Eck, 8, of Wrightsville, had a huge smile on her face as she put on a sea green helmet and was strapped into her new pink bike.
“Our family loves to be outside doing things," said her mother, Buffy Eck, in a news release. "Sophia would love to be able to ride with her brother and sister."
The bike program launched in 2012 with the idea that no child should be left out, said Variety CEO Charles LaVallee.
Since then, about 3,000 adaptive bikes, strollers and communication devices have been sponsored — about $4.5 million dollars of equipment, the release states.
The stroller is lightweight and more compact than a wheelchair, making it ideal for quick and easy mobility. Features are built into the bike to ensure safety and control depending on independence level.
Lisa Glass is most excited for her son Christian, 9, who attends Franklin Learning Center, in Chambersburg, to receive the communication device.
It would enable him to ask for something specific, which is especially helpful for meals because he's a picky eater and battling for medications that affect appetite, Glass said.
"We've never had that, ever," she said.
Recipients are eligible based on service area and income level, which Levalee says is higher than people might think.
The income cap is $84,550 for two household members, $106,650 for three, $128,750 for four, $150,850 for five, $172,950 for six, $195,050 for seven and $217,150 for eight, according to a release.
Families can apply through varietypittsburgh.org or call the Variety office at 724-933-0460. Donations for the equipment — which ranges from $1,200-$1,800 — can be designated by county.
All equipment is provided free of charge based on recommendation from the child's therapist, LaVallee said, and if children need all three, they can get all three.
Cathy Schaeffer, occupational and physical therapy supervisor for LIU 12, said she's "very proud that this is our first event, and we know it's only going to get larger."
LaVallee rode with Tuesday's bike recipients through a hallway flanked on each side by about 30 intermediate unit staff members, erupting in applause.
"You guys make this happen!" he shouted.