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Variety the Children's Charity of Illinois

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Human Services

Mission: Improve the quality of life for children and young adults (through 21 years of age) with disabilities by providing the equipment and experiences needed to reach their highest potential.

Results: "Kids on the Go" has impacted hundreds of children and their families. Families like Jackson's, who at the age of 8 suffered a stroke and spent his recovery at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. His ability to walk again required a walk aide (not covered by medical insurance) that was granted by Variety of Illinois. During his stay he developed a friendship with Senator Kirk and together they have participated in Battle Buddies as an effort to share stories of victory for IL residents with disabilities. OR this letter from Nicholas’s mom, who wrote: “We can’t thank you enough or find the words to express how EXCITED Nicholas was to be able to pick out a bike for himself. Finally! He wanted a bike of his own his WHOLE LIFE. While Nicholas was trying the bike, he had a look on his face like he finally had a little bit of freedom! He was so happy and it warmed our hearts!” The "Live to Achieve" program was established in 2012. Since its inception, young athletes have received grants to attend wheelchair basketball camps and tournaments, wheelchair track and field training programs and tournaments; goal ball camp and sled hockey camp. We have provided grants to numerous elite and Paralympic hopeful athletes to enable them to pursue their dreams. One of our first Live to Achieve recipients, Hailey Daniscewicz even qualified for the debut of the Paratriathalon at the Paralympics in Rio and represents Team USA again this year along with Ixhelt Gonzalez, a member of Team USA for Women's Wheelchair Basketball at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Target demographics: Children and young adults with disabilities through the age of 21

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 500 families in Illinois

Geographic areas served: Illinois

Programs: "Kids on the Go" that provides funding for mobility and other enabling equipment that improves a child's well-being , quality of life, community involvement and confidence. Examples of funded equipment include adaptive bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, standers, gait trainers and posturing devices. As adaptive bicycles comprise 60% of our requests, we are currently running a campaign called "Build A Bike" that enables individuals to donate one or more pieces of the specialized equipment needed to customize a bike. "Live to Achieve" a groundbreaking grant program, established in 2012, that enables children and young adults between the ages of 8 and 21 with physical disabilities to pursue their dreams of participation in sports activities at both recreational and elite levels. The program provides grants of up to $1,000 to eligible applicants. Program support includes participation at Variety of Illinois Adaptive Sports Camps in cooperation with the Chicago Park District Adaptive Sports Camps, trying out a new sport by attending wheelchair basketball camp or travel and training for elite level competition on World and National stages, including the Paralympics. "Variety at Play" enables children to experience programs and events that enable personal growth, development and enjoyment. Examples include: support of sensory friendly movie screenings of newly released children’s movies; private event hours at an annual carnival for children with disabilities & their families; complimentary visits to popular local attractions like Brookfield Zoo, Navy Pier and Siegel's Cottonwood Farm and more "Adapt My World" provides communication, hygiene and other quality of life assistive devices that insurance does not pay for such as iPads, showring/toileting chairs and most recently family relief packs during the pandemic containing PPE, paper goods and home sanitizers that were so hard for all families to find, but badly needed by families with immunocompromised children who go through these products faster than the average hosuehold does.

Community Stories

70 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

I have and will continue to support this organization in every way possible. The work they do and subsequent impact on the community speaks for itself, but the amount of genuine care and effort I've seen go into every function, fundraiser and event is second to none. I've witnessed firsthand how much joy they have brought to children and their families as a result of unparalleled dedication to their mission statement. This organization specializes in facilitating inclusivity and togetherness - an inherently priceless gift - for kiddos with disabilities to find a space where they truly feel like they belong in this world.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Variety gives magic to kids with disabilities. My autistic daughter was able to ride a horse through one of their events. This was something that I never even dreamed was possible. Their friendliness and encouragement create such a welcoming environment for our family.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son has attended many wonderful events and the Veriety team is always top notch

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Excellent organization that cares about the individuals that they serve. I’m proud that my son is a client here. This organization is dedicated to providing activities for individuals with unique needs.

1 Donna T.4

Client Served

Rating: 5

They have been there for our family on more than one occasion. I always saw those little gold pins for sale at the theatre but had no idea of all the important things they do with the funds raised. Great people with great hearts.

1 Sonny B.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The events hosted by Variety never disappoint. What an absolute great organization with an even better cause!! Keep up the great work Variety!! Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for the special needs community.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We had a great time at the Variety@play carnival in Fox Valley. My son with Autism and his younger brother rode rides without the long wait. This was our second year attending. Thank you for making events like this possible.

2 Holly Swanson E.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We had a blast at the Fox Valley Mall carnival! This is one of the highlights of our year. My son with special needs LOVES thrill rides as do all of my kids, but he can't wait in lines and doesn't do well with crowds so this event is perfect for him and for us to attend together as a family. Everybody has a great time!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been going to the Fox Valley carnival for years. It is such a blessing to be able to have everything covered-from rides to popcorn, cotton candy, and drinks. It is so relaxing to be around other special needs families who will understand if there is unexpected behavior. Thank you so much!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We've attended the Variety Carnival 3yrs in a row and look forward to it every year! My 5yr old has Autism and doesn't do well with crowds and ride lines but this event allows him to enjoy the rides at his own pace. He absolutely loves the caterpillar rollarcoaster, fun house and slide! He is non verbal was all smiles this year as he got to enjoy more rides because he's older now. This event is wonderful, fun and the Variety staff is super friendly - thank you for making it possible for my son to enjoy this family experience!

1 Carole S.3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Love what this organization does for the spec people. Have taken my son to many of their events
All were fabulous. NO THANK YOU is enough

2 Yesenia R.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter has been sooo lucky to be able to attend the events offered from Variety even though she is non verbal....her smile and how excited she gets makes me extremely happy and very Thankful for programs like this and activities for our special needs children....God bless you Variety and your staff always very friendly and with a smile...

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This was our first time participating at a Variety event and it was terrific! My son has a disability that effects his speech, motor function, as well as his sensory system. My son is almost 6 and was never able to tolerate carnivals..until now! The fact that this carnival was reserved for such a small group made it possible for my son to both tolerate and actually ENJOY himself! Thank you sooo much for making this experience possible for my son and entire family!! We all were able to experience his joy and excitement-what a blessed event! Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

1 EvanS.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is our son's favorite event. We love that it is not loud, crowded or overly visually stimulating. We love that a game with prize and treats are included, that happen to not contain gluten and dairy. Our favorite part is that big kid rides like the flying are open. That is our son's favorite. That helps it to acomidate older kids with adaptive needs, along with younger. The ferris wheel is always fun. It is nice that it is free. We have paid for experiences and had to leave if we had a hard time. Less pressure and more comfort with Variety events. We practice waiting in line without it being too much. This was our first successful carnival that we enjoyed with our son, a few years ago when we first tried.

Previous Stories
1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our son looks forward to the low key carnivals , Brookfield Zoo trips and other outings and events. It is so nice to have this supportive community that holds events. Sometimes we purchase tickets for experiences on our own and have to leave because it is too busy. I love that I can communicate and ask questions in advance. Angelique is so supportive. It is nice to see events and activities that older kids can enjoy. Our son is aware and disappointed when his favorite rides are closed. Unlike other sensory carnivals, Variety tends to have more open and to be less limited, so older kids can enjoy. It is nice that they offer a game, prize and gluten and dairy free treat. We had our first successful carnival experience with our son, through Variety. The lower sensory carnival with less people and lines made it easier for him to enjoy. We will never forget meeting the Variety team at Brookfield Zoo and being greeted with a goody filled with fidgets and other fun things. It made the day extra memorable.

1 KJ529

Client Served

Rating: 5

We took my son to the carnival at Fox Valley Mall event which was only open to people who registered through this charity. My son had a blast!! He didn’t want to leave. It was so nice how they really thought of everything and included a game prize, popcorn, and cotton candy for the kids. And totally free. We really appreciate everything. Thanks again!!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A wonderful charity that helps with children of special needs by providing events that are specifically for children with special needs and/or sensitivities. It is rare to find public events that are in an accepting atmosphere of not too much noise or lights or sounds, and will be patient with those attending who need a little extra time. Most recently they held a pumpkin event for such this kind of family. And my favorite is the carnival they hold every year.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Emily is a 15 year old multiple medical conditions that makes her every day activities hard to handle, with the support and help of non profit organizations with are able to do the things she enjoys. Halloween is by far her favorite time of the year and she enjoyed her self visiting the Haunted house and the pumpkin farm. Thank you for all you do for our kids!

2 Paula P.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

They're always so nice always helping the kids every time I go to there even always friendly thank you for all the support from isaac porcayo

2 Karen D.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My sister donates her time to this wonderful charity. She recently shared one with me.

"We did our 75th birthday celebration. It was a part of the Variety at Play pumpkin days. I actually had a woman come give me a hug and thank me for such a wonderful gift by providing an event where the children and their families can enjoy an outing in an accepting environment.

Another woman talked about how nice it was that the whole family could attend. And that it was hard to find these kinds of activities for their kids."

How exciting for everyone involved.

Previous Stories
2

Donor

Rating: 5

My sister got my kids involved in the sponsoring a bike building team. The kids were very excited to help others get a bike that would accommodate special needs.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

Variety is changing the lives of children everyday!

2 Samantha M.3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I absolutely love Variety. Everyone I've spoken with is amazing and ready to help.

2 Kelly S.6

Client Served

Rating: 5

Had a wonderful, stress free day at the Siegel's Cottonwood Farm, sponsored by Variety.

2 Nicole H.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thank you so much for all that you do. This is such a needed organization!! We can not tell you how much we appreciate you!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Thank you for allowing us to attend such a wonderful event. We have a ball.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We had a great time at Spiegel’s Cottonwood Farm. We have really limited income and can’t usually afford outings like this. It was greatly appreciated.

1 Debra McCoy C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We had a wonderful Time today at the Siegel's Pumpkin Farm!
Thank you so much!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We had an amazing time at Siegels pumpkin farm! Thanks for offering our family tickets this weekend. Our boys didn't want to leave! We were greeted so nicely too by the professional working for variety when we got our tickets. Glad she informed us of this wonderful charity.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Wonderful charity, they do so much for children with special needs and their families in such fun and positive ways.

2 SarahKAdamson

Board Member

Rating: 5

I attended the Amusement Park Event on Mother's Day this year and couldn't believe all the happy kids and smiles. I also saw an adapted bike presentation and experienced the joy of not only the child recipient, but the appreciation from her family and Physical Therapy Instructor. Seeing this first hand inspired me to start an adaptive bike drive with my own family. The Super Cyclers Bike Campaign is in full swing! I'm so proud to be associated with an organization that is truly changing the lives of children in need.

Previous Stories
2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I became aware of Variety the Children’s Charity of Illinois seven years ago as an event I hosted helped raise money for the charity. I’m happy to say that I’ve been with the event every year since that time. The increased knowledge that I’ve gained concerning this life-changing children’s charity has enriched my life to the point that I wanted to volunteer more of my time to the group. I joined the board of directors in August of 2015 and had never been happier to see how this charity is truly helping families. I never knew that an adapted bicycle can cost up to $3,000, and that insurance companies don't cover this as a medical expense or other equipment a child may need. Shouldn't every child grow up riding a bike? Isn't riding a bike a natural passage of childhood? Variety helps families to make their dreams come true, matching adaptive bikes and special equipment with families is part of their charitable efforts.

This past April, I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Variety World Conference in Jersey, UK. It was rewarding to hear about all of the great activities that were helping children all over the world. The Aurora, Illinois amusement event is one example of how this charity is helping kids and families to have the same opportunities and experiences that all kids should have. I’m proud to be a volunteer member of this group, the smiles on the kids' faces are why this charity is so important. Thanks, Sarah Knight Adamson Photos included are of Variety of Illinois fundraising event and silent auction

1 Eileen Polanco E.

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a great organization. Thank you for making children’s lives better.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

What can be better than improving the quality of childhood for children with disabilities and special needs? There are so many wonderful activities and events that Variety brings to the children. My favorite is the carnival that provides an opportunity for special needs children to experience a carnival. A great childhood activity that many would never experience if it were not for Variety. And this year, my young nephew and nieces were captains to a team that provided an adaptive bike to a young girl. A great teaching moment provided through Variety!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great cause, amazing staff, and fun events! What more could anyone want?

1 Laurie S.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for several years with this organization because I enjoy helping them and the children that are being served. Their events are fun and well organized which generates better attendance and more available donors. The Oscar night is a real extravaganza and people look forward to it and attend year after year. The children with disabilities being served really couldn't thrive without Variety the Children's Charity of Illinois. It is such a worthwhile organization to donate to and the money collected is put to such good use.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have had the opportunity to be involved with Variety Club of Illinois for over seven years as I work in the adapted sports community. Variety Club has supported so many young athletes from all over our state, as they embraced immediately the impact that a sports chair or other piece of adaptive equipment has on a child's life. Every kid wants to go FAST, play games, and hang out with friends. Unfortunately for kids with disabilities, they are used to wheelchairs and devices that cumbersome, slow, and frankly not very cool looking. Insurance companies do not care about quality of life or secondary health conditions that children with disabilities face. The norm for wheelchair users is this; "you will grow into it", and they do not mean get taller. A sports chair, an adaptive bike, is an opportunity at freedom, an opportunity to go fast, an opportunity be like their peers. Variety provides those opportunities and more.
When I was looking at the other reviews and the pictures of the kids, I loved seeing those youth that Variety serves and their smiles that lit up my screen. I have had the opportunity to witness this power in person and there is nothing better than giving someone a chance in life.
In all that Variety does, it is very purposeful and done with heart to improve the lives of the children that they serve. I love this organization for this reason and it is my hope that others will read my note and get involved with this great organization!
Thank you,
Dan

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Always have positive experiences with Variety of Illinois. Wonderful work for the community!

1 Kelly R.3

Board Member

Rating: 5

Variety: The Children's Charity of Illinois make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities and their families! Supporting Variety means giving a kid with a disability the opportunity to participate in sports, ride a bike, play at a park, visit a carnival and so much more! Without Variety, so many of these joys of childhood would not be available to our kids. These experiences tie to physical progress, mental development and overall enjoyment in life. Please support your local kids in need. Support Variety: The Children's Charity of Illinois.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at Seigels Cottonwood Pumpkin Farm for Variety and I can't tell you how heartwarming it was to see how much fun and how much it meant to the children in wheelchairs and their families to enjoy a day on the farm! The kiddos smiles will forever leave an imprint on my heart! I love volunteering for Variety!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been aware, and involved with Variety for 30 years. Many years ago a Young Variety Club was formed. It was a very social group for mostly single men and women. Many fundraisers were held in the Chicago area. The profits or percentage of sales were donated to Variety to help buy equipment for the kids. It was a great way to have fun while helping the less fortunate children. I remember going on several facility tours to see how and where our donations were going. What a great experience!

In more recent years, I volunteer for the Variety Golf outing and Oscar Gala at Hollywood BLVD. Once again, enjoying the cause, and meeting old friends and new!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Variety - the Children's Charity of Illinois kids events make inclusion and fun mutually beneficial to all children

2 varietykc

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Variety Illinois is a Class Act! The Executive Director has a heart of
GOLD!!!. If you give to a charity- Give to this one. You see where the money goes and the impact they have on the community!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The way this organization brings to light how to able a child who technically has a physical limitation is heartwarming. They work hard to create independence and assist families with support and supplies to let kids be kids and help them to find ways to enable them to be more independent and confident. I have been inspired by many of their events and met recipients who are amazing people, athletes, and families so grateful for technology and services offered from Variety.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We attended a Variety event in Chicago on October 1st for my son Zack, where he was fitted for an adaptive bike. This was our first time having Zack use an adaptive bike, and he was super excited to try one that worked for his body. It brought tears to our eyes to see how excited he was to ride a bike.
This past weekend, we also attended an event at Kohl's Children's Museum and my boys had a blast painting and "blinging" little pumpkins.
Thank you for all that you do to bring joy into the lives of so many children!

Comments ( 1 )

profile

abarthel17 10/26/2017

We're so glad Zack has become part of our Variety family! Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Had an awesome time with my son at the carnival, Thank u so much for putting this together.
We would've never been able to attend during normal hours, because of the crowds and having to wait in long lines.
My son was able to enjoy himself without judgement

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is the second time me and my daughter attended the special needs carnival at Fox Valley and we love going....she had such a wonderful time and the slower rides and no music really helps her to be able to enjoy herself...we just want to say thank you for putting this on for our kids it really means the world to them and us as parents....

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter and son and I recently attended a carnival for individuals with special needs in Aurora. We had the most fun. The staff was very friendly and kind towards us. My daughter loved the bumper car rides and would roar with laughter every time we ran into one of the other cars. She enjoyed the complimentary cotton candy and cried when it was time to leave. This was her first carnival experience and she really enjoyed it. Thanks very much to all involved we felt very cared for!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thanks you so much for this wonderful carnival experience. My son Ryan has autism and loves rides but hates long lines and crowds. Ryan and his twin sister Tara had the best time last weekend!!

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

Is there anything more satisfying then bringing smiles and joy to a child? Variety The Children's Charity of Illinois does just that. They have many events that children with special needs would not be able to enjoy, if it weren't for Variety. My favorite is a carnival they provide each year for these children and their families. And I have some young children in my life and they love riding their bikes with their friends. Variety also provides the opportunity for children with physical disabilities to have that same experience by providing adaptive bikes. I am so glad I found out about Variety and can help provide some of these opportunities to children.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a supporter of this charity for nearly two decades. In one brief sentence, I like this organization because it makes children smile as brightly as I ever see any child smile. Often times, in addition to the smile, there's a sense of accomplishment or reward that the special needs children this charity supports radiate. This is a gift you cannot possibly give without an organization behind the wheel who deeply cares for the well-being of children in need.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

They have planned very nice events. Organized and fun!!

2 Dana69

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an excellent event for my son. My son is a autistic kid. He loves carnival and this is the only entertainment he has. Hopefully we can have more this kind of carnival come to our area often. Thanks.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son and I had a great time at the carnival at Fox Valley Mall on Saturday. We both loved riding the rides. I was even able to get several pictures with him smiling (which he never does). It was nice to feel included and stress free! Thank you so much!!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thank you so much to Variety Children's Charity of Illinois. My family and I attended the Fox Valley carnival during the special needs time and my son who is on the autism spectrum could enjoy it just as much as his older brother. Having more space without a crowd and no loud music was just amazing. Thank you!!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Thank you for providing our "special needs" son with the opportunity to attend a carnival "stress-free"! He went on several rides, which he would not have done during regular carnival hours. Everyone was very kind and accommodating.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We really enjoyed the carnival at Fox valley mall.....my daughter was able to enjoy rides without having the struggle of waiting in long lines or the distraction of loud music ....I really appreciated the way the employees handled themselves and my daughter had a really good time eating the complementary popcorn and cotton candy.....thank you so much for giving her that experience

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is the only way our son who is autistic and has Down syndrome can go to a carnival. Normal carnivals are too overwhelming with so many people and long lines.

This is our second year and we had a great time!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Loved the carnival! My kids had so much fun and it made things SO much easier that they didn't have to wait in long lines. We typically can't go anywhere where we have to wait in lines because my child with special needs just can't handle it.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family is so thankful for this organization and the carnival event we just recently attended for the special needs community. It is nice to feel included & my family definitely did feel that way! It is so important for children of all abilities to have opportunities to attend events just like everyone else. The carnival event was a great opportunity for my family to enjoy a carnival with less crowds, slower speeds, less noise, & less lights. We wish the weather was more pleasant, but we had a great time at this wonderful event! We will definitely support & recommend this organization to others!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thank You!!! I attended the carnival with my special needs son. We had a great time riding the carnival rides. It was amazing being engaged in the same environment with other families that experience the same challenges. It was great to feel care free without judgement. I hope to attend future events with my son. I will recommend family and friend who want to contribute to variety of illinois.

2 Kathy252

Client Served

Rating: 5

An other amazing visit to the Carnival! We have two children with special needs. There is no way we could have afforded this kind of visit without the generosity of Variety of Children's Charity. The children had a *blast*! Made us very happy as parents too. All the staff were accommodating and kind. THANK YOU for showing us a wonderful time.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with Variety the Children's Charity of Illinois for a few years and I love the work that they do for those that need some assistance to live a life that we all deserve to experience. It tugs at my heartstrings a little extra to read stories of the little ones in need of equipment to do activities that most people take for granted and I am so thankful that there is an organization out there going above and beyond for the cause!

I had the privilege of joining Variety in Milwaukee last year to receive the Corporate Media Award for the partnership that my radio station (WERV-FM, 95.9) has formed with them... a partnership that I am extremely grateful to have!

Keep up the wonderful work, Variety! I will always be in your corner!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Such a great charity! Thank you for hosting the special needs carnival with Fantasy amusements! It was amazing!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My family attended the Carnival held at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, IL. The event was very enjoyable and my son who has Autism was enthralled with the choices he could experience. We always seek community outings that my special needs son and our neurotypical son can enjoy together. The staff was very kind and the event was very well organized. Thank you so much!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

What a wonderful event held by Variety the Children's Charity of Illinois. It's groups that, I, as a parent of a child with a disability, appreciate exist in our community. My son, his sister, his friends and I enjoyed the day spending time with one another at the carnival having so much fun. The staff from the organization of Variety of Illinois, specifically, Angelique, were very friendly, helpful, and kind. The carnival employees were also very friendly and pleasant to the participants of the event. I hope there will be more opportunities for such events, as this, for us attend. Thank you so much!

2 Min W.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We are thankful for this great opportunity for my special needs son and my typical son. They both enjoyed the carnival so much, and the popcorn and lemonade! Thank you for making them smile -:)