MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – On Thursday morning at the Mountaineer Mall, Variety, The Children’s Charity, donated nine adaptive bikes and four adaptive strollers to families with children with special needs.

This was done through their West Virginia partner PlayWorks Child & Adult Therapies, which has donated more than 300 bikes, strollers and communication devices through PlayWorks. Chief Executive Officer of Variety, Charles LaVallee, said the nonprofit operates in 71 counties across West Virginia and Pennsylvania, 12 in West Virginia and 59 in Pennsylvania.

He said he wants to keep collaborating and expanding because the work Valley does greatly impacts the lives of children and families.

“Every child should have a chance to ride a bike,” LaVallee said. “Every child should ride a bike with his brother and sister, every child should have a chance, not on the porch sitting and watching, but to be riding with their friends. Especially in this time of the pandemic, which has had such a negative impact on all kids, let alone kids with special needs. I had a boy recently, he got the bike 1:06 and was able to make friends in the neighborhood because instead of being the one on the porch of was left out he was riding up and down the street with everybody else.”

LaVallee said he wishes he had ten more partners like PlayWorks in West Virginia so that they could spread the word of their services to families. He said it breaks his heart that families don’t know that they can apply for a bike, stroller or communications device if they earn less than $131,000.

LaVallee with one of the families

Annette Barker, a mom who got an adaptive bike for her daughter Samantha, said it was the third time one of her children had received a bike from Variety through PlayWorks.

“We’re ecstatic because especially during the time we’ve had the last four to five months,” Barker said. “It means the world to the kids to be able to get out and at least go to the park or ride in the cul-de-sac around their house, or an empty parking lot and be able to move their body, get some sunshine when playgrounds and amusement parks and swimming pools are closed all over, at least this also gives them an opportunity.”

LaValee said parents can contact PlayWorks or Variety to find about how to apply, plus he said families can apply online through their website.