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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

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 (up to 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. The best results are described by the following examples: Jackson 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" was established in 2012. Since its inception, the program has supported the attendance of over 100 children at the Adaptive Sports Camps run in cooperation with the Chicago Park District. 25 athletes have been granted up to $1,000 in support of attendance at 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 5 elite and Paralympic hopeful athletes to enable them to pursue their dreams. One of our first Live to Achieve recipients, Hailey Daniscewicz has qualified for the debut of the Paratriathalon at the Paralympics in Rio de Janiero in 2016.

Target demographics: Disabled children and young adults up to 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. "Kids at Play" enable children to experience programs and events that enable personal growth, development and enjoyment. Examples include: support of the 6 specialized camps run in August of each year for special needs children in cooperation with the Chicago Park District; Special Movie Screenings of newly released children’s movies; support for children and their families to attend National Lekotek to aid in their development and family interaction skills; Everyone at Play days at the Kohl Children’s Museum; dedicated hours for the enjoyment of carnival rides for special needs children and their families; an adapted Knight Training program at Medieval Times;

Community Stories

46 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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

1

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.

1

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.

1 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 Karen D.1

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.

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.

1

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

1 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 )

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abarthel17 10/26/2017

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