The average bike costs around $80, but for children with disabilities who cannot use a regular bike the value of riding is priceless. That is why Variety started a campaign 18 months ago to give away adaptive bikes for kids with disabilities, and Tuesday they gave away the 500th bike.
“There are so many things that children with disabilities are told they can’t do, or will never do. Well this is something that we’re able to facilitate so the kids can do it, and then feel good about themselves,” said Chief Executive Officer Charlie LaVallee.
This week alone 56 children were presented with adaptive bikes. Each bike is customized to match the needs of each child.
Getting to the 500th bike was a challenge according to LaVallee with three main problems: the needs of children with disabilities are often forgotten; families didn’t know that these adaptive bikes existed; and the bikes are expensive.
The adaptive bikes cost $1,800 each, but Variety gets sponsors and raises money so that families don’t have to buy the bikes themselves. Even smaller organizations and individuals give what they can.
“The families want to help others and we had a sixteen year old boy with downs syndrome yesterday, he got his bike two months ago and he’s been so thrilled with it that he’s on what he calls the ‘help me give back campaign’ he’s half way to raising money for a bike for some other child. So I think the spirit of the families and kids is beautiful,” said LaVallee
Recently Variety spread its campaign to West Virginia. The next big bike giveaway will happen there in June.
“If we apply ourselves and get together there is no reason why we can’t go from 500 to 1000 bikes. I think that’s what’s been such a strong message about this. This is something we can achieve. There is no need that children with disabilities to go without a bike,” said LaVallee.