BEAVER, Pa. (June 28, 2013) – On Tuesday, June 25th, representatives from Heritage Valley Health System, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Variety the Children’s Charity hosted a second “My Bike” Beaver County Presentation.
During this special event, six children from Beaver County were awarded a new adaptive bicycle, which brings the total to 26 children with disabilities who received adaptive bikes in Beaver County through Variety’s “My Bike” Program.
Standing: Norman Mitry, Heritage Valley Health System, Deborah Partsch, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Sean Thomas (father), Kristyn Thomas (mother), Charlie LaVallee, Variety; Seated: Allysha, Megan, Emily.
Emily DiBitetetto, age 7, Allysha DiBitetetto, age 11, and Megan DiBitetetto, age 12, were three of the six children that received their adaptive bikes on Tuesday. Their mother, Kristyn Thomas, said just after she watched the three girls ride their bikes for the first time down the hallway at HVHS, “The girls have never been able to ride a two-wheeled bicycle. Watching the three of them finish the first lap on their new bikes, and me trying to keep up with them, I can see that they will be riding these for a long time, and I couldn’t be any more grateful.”
The “My Bike” Program, which was launched in November, was created to provide adaptive bikes to children with disabilities, so they too can enjoy the freedom of riding a bike.
Charlie LaVallee, CEO, Variety said, “We have already given 300 adaptive bikes out, but there are so many more children who could benefit from having one. Right now, we need help getting the word out about the program. No eligible child should be without a bike, and it is important to stay focused and to help locate as many children as we can.”
Although the “My Bike” Program eligibility requirements are based on families that are 400% and below of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, more than half of the first 300 families that received adaptive bikes are below 200% (i.e. $47,100 for a family of four), which means they have little to no disposable income.
Additionally, of the first 300 adaptive bikes given through the program, 60% of the children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy, autism, or down syndrome.
For children with disabilities, the sense of freedom that comes from riding a bike can sometimes feel out of reach. Variety the Children’s Charity created its “My Bike” Program to help make the dream of riding a bike a reality for children living with disabilities. To give these children independence and typical childhood experiences.
Every adaptive bike distributed through the “My Bike” Program is customized for each individual child and it can improve the riders’ social and physical well-being.
The cost to sponsor an adaptive bike through the “My Bike” Program is $1,800. Any donation made to the program can be designated by county. Variety’s ten-county service area includes: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. The founding sponsor of the “My Bike” Program is Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, who has donated more than $100,000 since the program kicked off.
For more information on Variety and the “My Bike” Program, please call 412-747-2680 or visit www.varietypittsburgh.org .
About Variety the Children’s Charity:
The “My Bike” Program is an initiative to provide children with disabilities with adaptive bicycles so they may have the freedom of a bike and the joy of riding alongside friends. Variety the Children’s Charity is proud to be the founding tent (chapter) for Variety International, which has grown to a network of over 50 tents (chapters) worldwide. To learn more visit www.varietypittsburgh.org .
About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield:
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield serves approximately 3.1 million members through the company’s health care benefits business and employs more than 5,000 people in western Pennsylvania. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information about Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, visit www.highmark.com.
About Heritage Valley Health System
Heritage Valley Health System is a $470+ million integrated delivery network providing comprehensive health care for residents of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties, in Pennsylvania; eastern Ohio; and the panhandle of West Virginia. In partnership with 4,000 employees and more than 450 physicians, Heritage Valley offers a broad range of medical, surgical and diagnostic services at its two hospitals, Heritage Valley Sewickley and Heritage Valley Beaver; in 72 physician offices; and 14 community satellite facilities. For more information about Heritage Valley Health System, please visit www.heritagevalley.org.