When growing up, do you remember hitting the open road on your bike with friends?
You had the freedom to ride and go where you pleased.
That’s the joy Variety – the Children’s Charity (of Pittsburgh) and Southwestern energy are working to give children with disabilities.
“What most of us took for granted, the simple joy of having a bike, that’s the purpose of ‘My Bike’. That’s what we started with in 2012,” said Charles LaVallee, CEO of Variety – the Children’s Charity (of Pittsburgh).
Since then, the charity has given away nearly 3,000 specialized bikes.
It’s even expanded into giving away specialized strollers and communication devices too.
Their work has touched hundreds of families, including eight Ohio Valley families on Thursday.
Together, these families received over $13,000 worth of adaptive equipment for FREE.
“I’m just so incredibly grateful to Variety, for all the news who came out, and the Mayor. This is absolutely amazing. I am incredibly blessed,” said Kathy White, a parent.
Kathy has two eight-year olds with autism.
Her daughter, Emmalee, is verbal, but her son, Levi, is not.
While they both face different challenges, they received bikes specialized to fit their every need.
Kathy believes the bikes will give them the freedom every child deserves.
“Now I can walk with them, I can take them with me, and we can do this as a family,” White said.
Like the White family, the Simmons family has children with autism too.
The youngest, Emma, is non-verbal.
On Thursday, she received a brand new communication device and her first-ever bike.
“This is going to make things so much easier and so much happier. She can’t ride a bike and my other son, my thirteen-year-old, he can’t ride a bike. Variety is going to give him a bike too, which is awesome. We’re going to be able to ride on bike trails together and do things as a family more,” said David Simmons, a parent.
Variety officials told 7News these Ohio Valley families are only the beginning. They hope to help dozens of others in the future too.
“Thank you very much, I love you all very much,” said Emmalee White, bike recipient.
For more information on the charity, click here.