Seven adaptive bikes and five adaptive strollers were presented to local children with special needs.

Since 2012, the Pittsburgh-based non-profit Variety has given out more than 500 bikes, strollers and devices to special needs kids in Erie, Crawford and Warren Counties. This equipment is worth more than $800,000.

“They are not going to be sitting on the couch anymore,” said Charles LaVallee of Variety Pittsburgh. “They are going to be out participating, being included, which is, if we are all honest, the needing to be included is critical. We all want to belong and be part of things.”

The financial burden for families with children with disabilities is much more stressful, so this organization has decided to help these families financially. Most of them spend four to five times the cost than that of a typical child. The equipment is available to any family regardless of income.

LaVallee said a family that might want to get a bike can’t because they had to buy an adaptive van to haul a wheelchair.

Emily Mosco has two autistic children that received special bikes on Thursday. She is excited to help them learn how to ride.

“They have regular bikes, and they were struggling to learn,” Mosco said. “A lot of things at the same time for kids with autism, [and] that is hard for them to do at once.”

Some, like Patricia Smith, received strollers to keep their children safe.

“It’s very awesome that I got it, [was] approved to get it,” Smith said, “because we can go more places and have him more safe.”

LaVallee said since the pandemic started, Variety has presented more than 1,400 adaptive devices to families.

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