PLAINS, Pa. — It was a special morning at the Lighthouse Academy near Wilkes-Barre for four children. Because Monday was the day they came here to receive their first bike.
"Today is about enabling children with disabilities to live life to the fullest to give them a bike so they can ride with their siblings, you know, and their families to be just like every one of us wants to fit in and belong," said CEO of Variety the Children's Charity Charlie LaVallee.
He started this free bike giveaway 10 years ago with Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett. It started with a single bike and now has grown.
"So it's that, or it's getting an adaptive stroller so that you can go out into the community," explained LaVallee.
For Heather Henderson and her daughter Haven of Montoursville, a stroller like this means less stress and more fun.
"We don't have to worry about our fingers and our feet getting tangled in the tires on a typical stroller. It's gonna give us more freedom. We can go more places like the Bloomsburg fair and get her out and about, so we're super excited about this," Henderson explained.
The strollers children are getting today can be adjusted as the children grow. As for the bikes, now that they already have one, they're eligible to apply for a new one every three years.
"It means the world to us," said Tina Edwards of Scott Township with her daughter Scarlett as they received their bike. "Scarlett has issues with balance. She's autistic, and communication's a big problem, so yeah, we're so excited. She couldn't do a two-wheel bike, so we should. Well, we learned about this program on Facebook and figured why not try it, and we got the approval."
Applicants to the program can also be given a tablet to help children with special needs communicate.
"The children, when they're taught with their speech-language pathologist, they can tell their parents, 'I have to go to the bathroom.' Or they can tell the doctor where they hurt. Or they can tell their mother, 'I love you more,'" said Corbett.
"Today is really a kickoff. We want to find every eligible child in northeastern Pennsylvania. So let's step into it. Let's find all these kids and get them the equipment they need," added LaVallee.
If you want to learn more about how you can get equipment like this for your child, you can find a link to more information by clicking here. Do not let the word 'Pittsburgh' in the link sway you; that is the organization for all of Pennsylvania.
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