May 2, 2016

Variety 'My Bike' Presentation

Variety “My Bike” Presentation

The “My Bike” Program Makes Dreams Come True

Recently, our law firm was proud to host Variety the Children’s Charity and seven families who came to downtown Pittsburgh to receive some very special gifts. These gifts, adaptive bicycles for kids with disabilities, were given through Variety’s “My Bike” program.

If you head into almost any neighborhood on a nice day, you’re likely to see kids riding their bikes. From toddlers on tricycles to older kids zooming around with their friends, bike riding is a way that kids experience one of their first tastes of freedom. It’s also something that many of us take for granted.

This won’t be the case for any of the parents, grandparents, or siblings who spoke at the Variety event.

Sun was streaming through the windows in the lobby of the US Steel Tower as they told the audience – which included Guy Costa, the Chief Operations Officer for the City of Pittsburgh; business leaders; and Edgar Snyder & Associates staff – that not a minute of their child’s bike riding will go unappreciated. Some of their stories are below.

Brandon's grandmother
Brandon's grandmother, Brandon, and Charlie LaValle, CEO of Variety.

Brandon’s grandmother has taken care of him since he was six months old. She began to cry as she talked about the things Brandon isn’t physically able to do and how the bike will help him. “These are tears of joy,” she explained. “… he won’t have to sit on the porch… today he can ride… and we can both be happy.”

Emmanuel's mother
Emmanuel's mother speaks to the crowd.

Emmanuel’s mother moved from Florida with her son to provide him with better health care and educational opportunities. That journey had a unexpected benefit – it introduced her to Variety. “I don’t call my son disabled… our kids are differently abled. They’re going to ride a bike differently than the rest of the world… Thank you to whoever paid a penny or a dime for us to have one of these bikes… because our lives are already complicated and expensive enough… thank you.”

Collen and Sofia
Collen (middle) with his sisters. Sofia is on the right.

Our youngest speaker was 4-year-old Sophia, who came with her brother, Collen. She didn’t hesitate as she approached the microphone and said, “I think my brother is going to love his bike… I think he’s going to put his Pluto in the back.” As she walked off to a round of applause, Collen scooped her up in a hug.

Samantha on her bike
Samantha on her bike.

Next, Samantha’s mother got up to speak. She told us that Samantha gets to use an adaptive bicycle at school. “She enjoys it so much,” her mother told us. “She does the Special Olympics at school and she loved having a bike so much.” But her dad is a disabled police officer, her mother explained, and “…our situation made it very difficult for us to afford [a bike] for Samantha. We appreciate this so much.”

Destiny leading the "bike parade" through the lobby.

Finally, Destiny’s mother took the stage and explained the freedom that this will give her daughter. “This is something she can use to have fun with the family. She used to ride attached to my husband’s bike and she couldn’t see all of the people. She’s such social little girl and this will allow her see people and get exercise.”

A Special Experience

Watching these children ride their bikes for the first time was unbelievably special. Watching their families experience this first bike ride was just as moving. Partnering with Variety over the years has been a pleasure, and we’re continually impressed with the amazing work they do and their dedication to the families they assist.

The biggest inspiration, however, was seeing seven special kids and their wonderful families experience something we hope will bring joy to their lives for years to come. As the families told us, watching their children ride a bicycle once seemed like a farfetched dream, and it was truly an honor to watch that dream came to life right before their eyes. We thank them for allowing us to be a part of their day.

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