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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Variety - The Children's Charity of Wisconsin

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Education, Human Services, Philanthropy, Philanthropy, Charity & Voluntarism Promotion

Mission: Providing life-enriching assistance to Wisconsin children challenged by physical disabilities.

Target demographics: Variety serves Wisconsin children who are challenged by physical disabilities, 21 years of age and younger and whose needs are not met by other sources, including family, school, insurance and service program resources.

Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2016, Variety provided funding for 53 requests of life-changing equipment, therapy, adaptive bicycles, and other items with a retail value of $68,000 through our Freedom Program. We hosted 66 events through the Future Program with more than 2,500 participants. We hosted 20 families for Chatter Matters! Communication Camp.

Geographic areas served: Wisconsin

Programs:

The Variety Freedom Program encompasses mobility, communications and experiences. The Freedom Program exists to help children with physical challenges obtain confidence, freedom and independence by funding durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, van lifts, house ramps, adaptive car seats and strollers, specially-equipped bicycles and tricycles, bath equipment and stair lifts, for those with the greatest financial need.

The Variety Future Kids Program provides memorable educational and play experiences that would likely be inaccessible to children with physical challenges due to mobility or financial restrictions. The program takes children and their immediate family members on fun, free outings.

Chatter Matters! Communication Camp is a residential camp for children who use speech generating devices and their entire family to become better communicators in a fun, traditional camp setting.

Community Stories

88 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

dorrienshoates

Client Served

Rating: 5

We participated in on of the camps provided by this organization and it was one of the best experiences of my sons life.

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1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We came into the camp not sure what to expect, just willing to try something new. When we arrived at the camp we were blown away!! The facility was beautiful... everyone was so nice. The entire staff was personable and professional... Our son was immediately comfortable.
This camp has changed our family's life and we plan to participate in as many events as we possibly can in the future and spread the word on how wonderful an experience it was for us .

Client Served

Rating: 5

Variety group made the impossible possible for my step son! After trying through insurance, his waiver and being the secondary household, then him turning 18 and transition happening we about gave up on our hopes of a custom wheelchair/ off road stroller. Thankfully with variety's help and patience we now have the item and can enjoy so many more family outings . Can't thank variety enough for the gift they have granted us.

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a board member, Variety is a truly inspiring organization that brings tangible value to those it serves. In addition, it brings intangibles, like feelings of freedom, joy, excitement and accomplishment. I am blessed to be a member and watch this organization make a difference in children's lives every single day!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Variety is an amazing charity that helps provide life enriching support to kids with physical and verbal disabilities. it is quite amazing to see the transformation of children before and after their gifts from Variety.

Laurie Y.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our family cannot Thank Variety enough for all there support, generosity, kindness and care that have been given to our family as well as many others.
Our son Travis received an adaptive bike through Variety and Emery's. Travis is paralyzed from waist down so required a hand propelled bike. This bike helped him be included with his peers, boost his confidence and help gain strength where he needed it the most , his arms. Travis has since grown out of his bike and we donated the bike back.
Variety; Thank you for all do and all you have done and continue to do.
Sincerly,
Travis Yarie and family
Mike, Laurie and Travis Yarie
P.S.
Variety is also a great support of resources as well.
Our family has been able to enjoy many activities do to Variety's generosity.

Cindy184

Client Served

Rating: 5

Variety is a wonderful organization filled with kind and extremely helpful coordinators! They have been a great resource to our family and son. It’s hard for families to know what their resources are and I’m thankful to have found them! They assisted us with the process of getting a handcycle bike along with fun events over the years thanks to generous donors and businesses. Thank you Variety!

Previous Stories

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Variety has been a big help to me and my son. They are a wonderful resource for needing to find adaptive equipment and contact information. Jessica is a wealth of knowledge. We also enjoy being able to participate in so many fun family events!! Thank you for your help!!!

Tammy R.4

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have a 4 year son who has difficulty with gross and fine motor skills due to a rare disease. Variety has been impactful in our lives through their events they hold. Our son's favorite event is the Christmas party they throw for families with children with physical disabilities . It is great to have a special day out in the community where they are treated with love and our family can do something together!
-Tammy Ruh

Client Served

Rating: 5

Variety has given my family of resource information for my son that even know about . The staff are all friendly and helpful

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

Variety has been awesome with answering questions about services offered to my son Nathaniel drinkman. Shelley drinkman

miranda28ramirez

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Variety has helped me in a great number of ways. I first received an adaptive bike from them at age 11. After receiving such a great gift, I was determined to give back what was given, and I became an active volunteer. Through volunteerism, I was able to see so much of what this non-profit does. I volunteered at Future Program events, where I was able to see so many Variety families like mine come together to have a good time with other families that understand them. This was the kind of community I craved as a child, and I was so grateful to join it. I also volunteered in their office and fundraising events, where I was able to see all the behind the scenes action. They are truly an amazing, hard working staff that all share the same passion: to help children with disabilities have the best childhood possible. Years later, at age 19, I am still very involved. Variety continues to be a major part in my life as they provide me the opportunities to enjoy my favorite sporting event: Milwaukee Brewers Baseball. Most recently, they have funded adaptive driving lessons for me! I have been battling funds for several years now, and it was very frustrating. I felt very trapped and I depended too much on others. Now that I am driving, I have very strong sense of independence and confidence that I will be able to conquer anything. Thank you, Variety!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Kids are truly the focus of Variety WI. They live and breath to help our kids with physical disabilities and truly give the children meaningful experiences!

1 Kay R.1

Donor

Rating: 5

A member for over 40 years, I have watched Variety grow from a Little-known club run by an executive director, board members, and volunteers to a well-organized Charity. Back in the 80’s, my husband, then the chief barker ( president) personally delivered a check to a family in northern Wisconsin with a disabled child so they could afford to buy Christmas presents for their children. Today, the scope of Variety’s work has grown into bigger and better things. With corporate help, ramps have been erected to make homes accessible for children with disabilities, hundreds of adaptive bikes have been donated so special needs kids can be like normal kids. Each summer Variety sponsors a Chatter Matters camp to aid families learn to communicate with children with serious communication disabilities.

Although Variety is an international charity, all money raised from the numerous events Variety holds throughout each year are used to help families in Wisconsin.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son Trevor was 17 years old when he fell 2 stories in his school stairwell and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Trevor was not expected to live but through lots of prayers and his determination he did. He was in ICU for about 3 months then transferred to another part in the hospital for another month before being transferred to a brain rehabilitation center. After a couple months there they said his insurance would not continue to pay for him to be there because he wasn't making progress fast enough. He couldn't talk or do anything but move his eyes and they said we should not expect him to ever do more. We were told we would need to take him home. Well our home is a 1924 bungalow with no access for a wheelchair. We initially called Variety Charities to ask for help converting our mini van into a wheelchair accessible van. We were faced with trying to also get our home remodeled so we could just get Trevor In the house. We got a couple bids and 1 contractor told us maybe we should just look at buying a different house which wasn't possible. The cost was going to be over $50,000 to make it accessible for Trevor. We were devastated because ee didn't have that kind of money. Gerise from variety called us back and said to sit down because she had some good news. The owner of Tri North Builders sat on their board of directors at Vatiety Charities and offered to remodel our home so Trevor could come home for FREE! About 1 month and over $50,000 later we brought Trevor home! Since coming home Trevor started talking again, eating on his own, and graduated from high school! Variety also gave us tickets to Brewers games, Buck games, football games and even a fishing trip on lake Michigan. Needless to say we have been blessed over and over again by this wonderful charity. They brought our family together again when we thought there was no hope.

Happy and grateful dad
Mark Wood

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1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Mark Wood, I have a son Trevor who sustained a traumatic brain injury from a 25' fall off a stairway banister while at school on June 9, 2009. Trevor was rushed to the emergency room at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Trevor was in critical condition when he arrived and they told us that we would have to see how the next 12 hours went. Trevor survived this fall and is continuing his recovery at this time. When Trevor was to be released from the hospital we were told that in order for us to bring him home, our home had to be accessible to him. We were devastated with the task of modifying our home just to have our son home where he belonged. We called different building contractors to get estimates for the modifications. We were told that they would cost around $50,000.00 . We were also told maybe we should just sell our home and find something more accessible for Trevor. We were devastated. A social worker at Children's Hospital came to visit us one day and suggested we call Variety the Children's Charity of Wisconsin. My wife Jennifer called them and asked if they knew of anyone that could help us with the expense of getting a wheelchair van or the remodel of our home so we could get our son home. Gerise from Variety told us that she would make a few phone calls and see what she could do. That was in the evening time, the very next morning Gerise called Jennifer and asked her if she was sitting down. She then proceeded to tell us that she had reached out to some of the friends of Variety Charities for help and immediately was called by Tom the owner of Tri North Builders. Tri North Builders said they would like to come to our house and remodel our house to make it wheelchair accessible so Trevor could come home! Within 3 days our house was being remodeled, we were really wanting to get Trevor home as soon as possible and hopefully by Thanksgiving but that was less then a month away. Needless to say they finished our home and Trevor came home to be with his family for Thanksgiving. Variety Charities was involved every step of the way, bringing over food, offering anything we needed to help out. We gained a personal relationship with all of Tri North Builders and Gerise and the rest of the staff of Variety Charities. Since then Variety continues to be a important part in our lives, We are invited to numerous events and programs that allow Trevor to do thing he may never be able to do without their help. They are the most wonderful, caring and loving people! We are proud to be a part of the Variety family! I am continually amazed as I see all the help they continue to give out to so many families in need . Thank you so much!! Mark Wood

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our family was able to attend Camp Chatter Mattes is year and it was a wonderful experience. Everyone was so kind and helpful, the other families were great. My daughter got to experience camp like every other child can!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I learned about Variety two years ago, and the organization has helped our family in so many ways. Our daughter was born with a very rare syndrome, called SATB2 syndrome. Her motor coordination and planning is impaired, and with a diagnosis of severe verbal apraxia, she is eight years old but has less than 100 words that she can say clearly. Last year we wanted Sylvia to be able to ride a bike with our family, but we knew that she did not have the awareness to ride independently, or to stay on her bike. We had no idea of what options there were for her to help her participate in biking with our family. I applied to Variety for assistance, and Gerise the director actually brought me into Emery's bike shop in Milwaukee and personally introduced me to the owner to assist in fitting Sylvia for adaptive pieces for a bicycle. Prior to this she would not even sit on a tricycle. Variety helped to fund the adaptive pieces. Once the pieces were put on our daughters new bike she immediately sat on it and peddled like she had been biking for years. She can now go on bicycle rides with our assistance . Variety has also helped connect us to families all over Wisconsin who have children that use argumentative communication devices for speaking, by hosting a very special camp called Chatter Matters. We were fortunate enough to be one of the families to attend the camp last year as well as this year. Through speakers, and workshops it is four days of learning opportunities for families and siblings of special needs children. It has also given us a chance to connect with other parents and share our stories, challenges and achievements. It is a reminder to parents of special needs children that you are not alone, but it takes a camp like this to bring these families together. We have met families that I believe will be lifelong friends through Chatters Matters, and I'm very grateful that we have a program like this to support our families .

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Chatter Matters was a fantastic event. I had the chance to volunteer through my graduate program, and the weekend was a blast. Meeting the families and working with the kids was supplemented by the dance and talent show! For children who are looking for some fun and immersion, this camp brought it all in one weekend.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have participated at Chatter Matters Camp and it was an amazing experience for families who have a child using a talker! There were many family activities, parent activities, and free time. Thank you for all you do for special needs kids!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer at camp, it was awesome to see kids interact with their families outside the typical clinical setting. Some of these kids had never experienced camp before, so allowing them to participate in traditional camp activities was so rewarding.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at Variety's Chatter Matters! Camp this summer. It was a rewarding experience that I will never forget! I will definitely be volunteering again next year. Children who are nonverbal and their families had the opportunity to participate in engaging activities such as water sports, games, crafts, and cooking activities with the support of SLPs, and SLP/OT/PT students. The emphasis was on using AAC devices in everyday activities- I can't tell you how awesome it was to see children use these devices to communicate outside of the speech therapy room or classroom during activities where they could just enjoy being a kid at summer camp! Thank you for the wonderful weekend, Variety!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family attended Variety 2016 Chatter Matters! Communication Camp! Communicating with non-verbal children is very challenging; the camp showed us that it is well worth the hard work. Stephen Hawkings is only one individual who uses technology to give himself a voice. If we can all learn to use technology to its fullness, how much better will the world be for all of us? Technology is advancing we need to make sure the people who need it most have access to it. Everyone at camp was encouraged to do so.
People are social creatures. Both non-verbal children and their parents are isolated. Being among others with similar challenges broke the isolation. Everyone was able to find others that they could relate to and share with.
The camp was a fun, non-judgmental place were my entire family could have fun while learning. Being among so many non-verbal children allowed us to experience the world differently. Some of the activities were geared to have us adults see the world through our children's' eyes and it was frustrating. My children were able to see the world as one of the "normal" children and have fun.

Gena F.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Chatter Matters camp was an amazing experience for our family this past weekend! The campground was perfect and from all of the fun activities to the parent sessions.. we couldn't have asked for more! Thank you for letting us come to camp and we hope we can come back next year!

1 Mary434

Client Served

Rating: 5

This camp was a tremendous treat to my whole family. Thank you for this opportunity to be able to focus on fun and communicating with my son's device throughout the whole weekend. FUN! FUN! FUN! camp activities and parent enrichment sessions were appreciated by the whole family. Thank you for what you do and we are looking forward to more opportunities with Variety!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Variety has been a blessing to our family. They have given us the opportunity to get out into our community with other families like us. we have participated in Varietys free movies and Christmas parties. Variety has also coordinated and help purchase an adaptive trike for our daughter. With out their help a trike would not have been obtainable. We recently attended their "Chatter Matters" communication camp, it was an amazing experience for the entire family. Our daughter got the opportunity to use her AAC device besides the normal school and home atmosphere. She initiated conversions, made choices, answered questions and participated independently in a talent show. All this at just 7 years old! With out Variety our family would not have a chance to have "normal" activities and experiences just like their peers!

1 Nikkie

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thank you so much Variety for having the Chatter Matter camp!

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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Thank you Variety for all that you do to help special needs children and their families! My daughter Adalyn was the lucky recipient of a new adaptive bike from Variety! We actually are going tomorrow afternoon to pick it up, Can't wait!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Chatter Matters is a great organization that has really impacted our family. We enjoy the many activities that are offered and the opportunity to learn more about our child's device. We are able to attend events that we normally could not afford. THANK YOU Chatter Matters and keep up the great work!!!!

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

2015 was my family's first year experiencing Variety! The staff is really nice and welcoming. My family enjoyed a few Buck's games and we also attended the Chatter Matters camp, which was great!!! We look forward to attending many more Variety events!!! The Baker Family:)

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

AMAZING STAFF ! They work with their hearts and their minds intertwined to help children with limiting abilities become more independent in communication, in the community and physically.Our family is super grateful for all the FUTURE KIDS events that get us out into the community and our child socializing, communicating and involved . Thank you variety for being a bright spot of accessibility and HOPE !

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been involved with Variety for 3 years, now. They have helped us tremendously with many aspects of having a special needs child. From communication device, to an adaptive bicycle. Not to mention the fun events!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our youngest daughter, Kira, was diagnosed at age 2 with Rett syndrome, after losing her ability to stand, talk and use her hands functionally. She has used a low tech communication book (PODD) for 6 years and 2 years ago started using her Tobii, a speech generating device she controls with her eyes. We were able to attend the Chatter Matters camp this summer and have so much to be grateful for. The camp was structured to offer Kira a camp experience, much like her siblings, but with significant emphasis on creating opportunities for her to utilize her communication device in meaningful, engaging situations, while meeting new friends and having fun. The staff was amazing! There were students who are going into the speech pathology profession, working side by side with veteran speech pathologists and other professionals. Our days were filled with activities and staff were right there to help. Parents were offered opportunities to meet with specialists while kids were actively engaged in activities with so many volunteers. Kira requires 1:1 attention and I felt comfortable going to the parent sessions while others cared for and interacted with her.
The camp was a time for Kira to be included in all activities with other children. Siblings attended and were engaged as well.
It's not often Kira participates in something that I can stand back and let go of my worries. I am usually trying to adapt whatever "typical" activity is going on, but here was a place Kira fit in, and camp was ready for her.
I appreciated the time spent learning from and sharing experiences with other parents who "get it". Although our children are different, we all understand the intensity of raising a child with special needs, advocating for their needs and trying to find solutions to any number of situations. Kira left camp with a stronger understanding of how to use her communication device, and a treasured week of camp memories she has shared with her 3rd grade class. I left camp with new circle of friends, a bonus I hadn't anticipated. Thank you Variety, for the opportunity to participate in Chatter Matters!

1 nicothegreat

Client Served

Rating: 5

We received a wheel chair lift for our home from variety a few years back. It has been a god send to our family we are able to take our son to many events with other variety families with such ease along with everyday life events.

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1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son Nicolas is a loving 4 yr old at the age of 5 months he was injured and diagnosed with Non accidental brain injury. Since moving to Wisconsin Variety has allowed my other children and Nicolas to participate in dream nights such as the bucks games, and admirals games along with the ren faire these are things that with a child of special needs we as a family can not possibly find the extra money to spend on things like this. As we are busy buying items for Nicolas' care and as toys for him that are adaptive to him and his needs. Variety has allowed us as a family to offer a childhood to our other 2 children that in the light of Nicolas injuries we would have been unable to provide and still provide the best for Nicolas.

2 Melissa273

Volunteer

Rating: 5

So excited about future activities and family out reach.We attend the holiday move last year and was very impressed with everyone.We have 3 kids with special needs and are hoping to connect with more families.
Thanks Variety.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Because my daughter has Down Syndrome, we've been able to take part in many of the sponsored events Variety has been able to offer our family. We've gone to events that we never would have been able to take part in otherwise. Blue Lotus Farms, Christmas party at Marcus Cinema, sporting events, plays, and the list goes on. Thank you for making life more enjoyable by providing outlets for our "special" daughter! -Jackie Marz

Client Served

Rating: 5

We are new to Variety and have only been to one event, but that one event was amazing! Being around families just like ours and being able to relate to them was just amazing and at no cost to us! We receive emails for other amazing free events that our family wouldn't normally be able to afford due to medical bills. We look forward to attending many more events with Variety with our family!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Great organization, really helped my disabled daughter feel part of the community! We have been to several different events, brewers game, Bucks games etc that we could have not paid for ourselves.
They offered a great birthday party, piano bar, lots of fun hints all over the area:)

Lisa461

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Elizabeth perez my daughter Yessenia has C.P. We heard about Variety about 1 year ago and since then we have enjoyed their program. We have gone to a bucks game thanks to them. We really apreciate everything that they have to offer. We are from Madison and sometimes is hard for us to be able to enjoy all they can offer but when we do we are very greatful. Variety has tought me that we are not alone and that there is many families that I can relate to. Thank again Variety.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Variety has been such an awesome experience for our family! We have been able to particpate in events that we would not normally known about or think to do!! Our three sons have enjoyed Brewers and Bucks games, Movies and Picnics that have always been great family time!! Thanks so much Variety!!

Beth139

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been extremely impressed with the variety of services and support available through Variety. My son has right sided hemiplegia due to an in-utero stroke. We first heard about Variety's adaptive bicycle program, and while we've never pursued a bike, we've participated in Madison's movie with Santa event for the past two years and really appreciate the thoughtful staff who consistently are thrilled to see my child and always make sure we have everything we need. We've been unable to attend other events, but have been extremely impressed with the organization's dedication and breadth of services.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have 3 boys who all love to have fun. Our oldest two are twins born conjoined at their lower backs and have spina bifida. Both use wheelchairs. The Variety Club allows our family to attend events we normally would not be able to afford to take all our boys to. It also allows them to meet others with disabilities. The variety club is an amazing program that we feel very fortunate to be a part of.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Both my wife and I wanted to extend a word of thanks regarding the Chatter Matters Camp our family was able to enjoy this week. The brief opportunities to share our gratitude kind of took us by surprise - as I'm sure it did for other families as well. It was tough to process the amount we have to be thankful for during that short amount of time. Here are a few thoughts...

Life as a special needs parent, by necessity, can be quite regimented. Daily rituals get us through each day, and work and sleep deprivation take their toll. Even a vacation isn't a vacation, as they are often largely the same regimen in a new location - plus a degree of uncertainty with regard to new locations, new hospitals, new stares, etc. The opportunities to really sit back and reflect, plan, and course-correct rarely come, and is often done with 'the ball in motion', and some degree of fatigue.

The Chatter Matters Camp was beneficial to us in many incalculable ways. The opportunity to have our son's needs given a fresh review by so many speech professionals was priceless for him, and reassuring for us. Our eight year old son's speech began with his first word nearly two years ago to the day. The long plateaus between any progress in speech always make us concerned about committing extended lengths of time to try anything new. We see the benefit that this technology can provide Brandon, and I'm not confident that would have happened without this camp.

The opportunity to be with other special needs parents also helped us out of our years-long sense of isolation. What made this camp particularly helpful was the shared experience of specifically being with the parents of children with extreme communication disabilities. We don't feel as isolated as our children who can't talk, but we share that sense of isolation the same. It was a tremendous experience to be among those who 'get it' - both professionally and in their daily home life as well - and to have that opportunity have some community.

Safety - a long forgotten sense of safety. Our son never responds when he wanders off, which always leaves us anxious wherever we go. The speech professionals, the speech students, the community of families (both the siblings and parents), the predictable and easily searchable facility layout - all made us feel safe for the first time outside of our home in a long time. The two times our son did wander off this week, it turned out he was simply escorted to the washroom by the volunteer psychologist, and another time he went back into our room, where an SLP was just patiently waiting outside the room with the door open, keeping a watchful I on him until we figured out he was missing. That was really ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty and greatly appreciated that.

The opportunity to be able to speak with a psychologist was beneficial as well. A fresh perspective that is experienced, objective, and insightful can be immensely helpful when parents and kids are caught in a regimented daily routine. We received some great, practical takeaways that we will use to help our son to cope more appropriately in new environments and new social situations that are over-stimulating to him.

The siblings were amazing as well. Our son easily gets overwhelmed in social situations and shuts down around regular kids playing at their own pace. We saw the face-hiding and withdrawal again with an opening soccer game. It only took a couple of words with these kids and they readily throttled down their intensity. Within the hour, we saw our son play soccer with kids nearly his own age for the first time ever. Indeed, it was the first time we saw him engage in a "non-parallel play" manner. We feel it was a defining, formative break-through moment for him!

As a parent of a speech-language pathology student who volunteered, the event was priceless as well. A university could not have created a more comprehensive pre-professional experience. Not only was the exposure to top-shelf SLPs a great opportunity, but they also received the experience of being able to dine and listen to parents, work with our kiddos, and interact with their siblings. Our daughter has already has this experience, but it is not the same until you can break out of your own family dynamic - so this benefitted her as well. The key difference between being a health care provider, and being a health care provider of excellence, begins a foundation of mercy. We feel that this comprehensive experience fosters the heart of a true caregiver enormously. For certain, the perspective made possible to these students during a formative period in their careers will pay dividends to the children and families they will serve in the future.

Oh, we could tell that our service dog, Sienna, enjoyed the week too. Our family routine has kept us from seeing the benefits of all her people-skills and training, so that was an unexpected discovery and bonus as well.

Finally, I have to mention the staff and environment of Inspiration Ministries. The meal planning, food preparation, the easy cleanup, the child-friendly environment; having all of these concerns and activities taken out of our routine for a few days provided us with opportunities to think, and regain some sense of adult community. There were moments where my wife and I actually spoke in complete, uninterrupted sentences. We already can't remember what we said, but it happened there!

So again, we have a lot to be grateful for and extend a sincere word of thanks to Variety for making the Chatter Matters Camp happen. As always, there are just too many individuals for us to thank. If forwarding this message is possible, we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you to all who made this past week, both possible and memorable.
Sincerely,

Jim, Anne, Victoria (Tori), Brandon, and Sienna Behan

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am the father of a teenage girl that Variety has helped. I am so grateful for Variety because they have given my daughter the chance to become more independent. They also provide her with the chance to meet other children with disabilities.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Variety for about 5 years. I have received an adaptive bike that I enjoy riding with my little sister. Riding the bike helps me strengthen my muscles while having a good time. Other than receiving a bike, Variety has provided me with many opportunities to participate in amazing events such as my favorite outing: baseball games. Variety gives me the chance to meet other children with physical disabilities, like me.

Mary308

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter Dafne and our family had the opportunity to be part of the first Chatter Matters Camp as well as the second year. It was such and incredible experience not only for Dafne but for all the family as well , and we are very thankful for the opportunity. In addition to attend to the camp, Dafne was able to receive a communication device, and IPad and now she is able to communicate and express her needs and wants everywhere she goes to. My family and I am very grateful with al the people that is involved with the organization; Variety, from staff to volunteers and donors.

Comments ( 1 )

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Duavang 10/23/2014

Thank you for writing a review about Variety! We were so glad to have you and your family attend camp.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a recipient of a piece of equipment from Variety almost 30 years ago and have always been grateful, not only for this help but also for the support and love this organization gave to my family. A few years ago, I became involved again by joining a volunteer committee. I'm so happy to be involved once again, and I see that Variety is still as caring as ever, and they are great stewards of their money/resources!

Comments ( 1 )

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Duavang 10/23/2014

Thank you so much for writing a review Leslie! We are so glad that we were able to reconnect with you after so many years. I know that your input is so valuable to the advisory committee. Thank you for all you do!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter, who has cerebral palsy, has been fortunate enough to attend Variety's Chatter Matters! communication camp during its first and second years. What an amazing experience at a facility that is so welcoming to people with disabilities. Variety staff, volunteer therapists, and therapy students give generously and tirelessly to plan and run this event. A highlight this year was the addition of Jon and Sarah Feucht, role models as well as volunteers, who reminded us all about what our children are capable of accomplishing.

With much gratitude to all Variety staff, volunteers, and donors who made this camp possible.

Elise G

Comments ( 1 )

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Duavang 10/22/2014

Thank you so much for taking the time to write a review! We are all so glad that you and your familiy attended Chatter Matters and had a great time.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter, who has cerebral palsy, was lucky enough to be a participant in Variety's first-ever Chatter Matters camp in June 2013 for her first-ever camp experience, which represented one of only two times she's been away from home aside for hospital stays.

With extraordinary vision and planning, the Variety staff and volunteer therapists and therapy students worked with tireless and infinite patience, compassion, energy, and imagination to ensure that children with disabilities could have the chance to enjoy a meaningful summer camp experience with others who face similar challenges as they and their parents became familiar with communication devices and networked with each other. From the special location Variety chose, which provided accommodations for those with all kinds of special needs to the range of activities tailored to enable these children to participate--the nature walk and lecture, the arts and crafts projects, the water games, the creative cooking, the camp fire and sing-along, the group talent show--to the Variety staff and volunteers' generosity with their time and their willingness to give of themselves, their expertise, their kindness--what a wonderful program!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family has been part of the Variety family since 2011 and I am proud to say that my daughter is a Variety Kid! She has spinal cord injury and uses crutches to walk. Due to her physical disability, she is limited to the physical activities that she can participate in. Variety helped change that when they gave her a specially adapted bike. I'll never forget the day that she got the bike and rode off so fast that I couldn't keep up with her. She actually had me running after her for once. She was shrieking with pure joy the entire ride. It's an experience that I'll never forget. I am so grateful that Variety gave my daughter the chance to just be a kid and experience the joy of riding a bike.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am the father of a nonverbal autistic son. This past summer we attended variety's Chatter Matters camp. What an awesome experience. From the moment we arrived it seemed like everyone knew us already and were very welcoming. The volunteers were incredible! My son had a great time with all the activities that were carefully planned. There was also time for parents to learn about the communication device, including programming it! This was something was used to be very intimidating. But they went through it very slowly and made it easy. This wonderful camp experience was something that we could not thank Variety enough for. They truly are an extraordinary charity.

Comments ( 1 )

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Duavang 10/13/2014

Thank you for taking the time to write a review! We are so glad that you had an awesome experience at Chatter Matters! Communication Camp. The Variety staff and volunteers had a wonderful time working with the children and families. We can't wait until next year's camp!

Client Served

Rating: 5

We were having difficulty transporting my son to doctor's appointments. He cannot walk and we were unable to fit his specialty chair in our car. Variety purchased a large specialty sized stroller. It was around $700! We have used it so much and it has made our life so much easier.

Thank you variety!

Comments ( 1 )

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Duavang 10/06/2014

Thank you for your review. We are so glad that we were able to help making transporting your son easier!

Kim_152

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 5 year old daughter who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome has enjoyed many of the activities sponsored by Variety. We are thankful that agencies such as Variety exist to support our family.

Comments ( 1 )

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Duavang 10/06/2014

Thank you so much for your review. We are glad that you participate in the Future Kids Events!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a Board Member for many years, and a volunteer and contributer even before that! I love this charity because we see the kids and families we serve -how their life experience is enhanced. To see the joy in their being (and on their family's faces) is beyond belief! Giving special needs kids mobility opportunities with special equipment - opporutnities we take for granted like riding a bike, standing up, moving independently from place to place - is so humbling. Providing dream experiences for them like Chatter Matters Camp, Museums, Movies, fishing trips, auto races etc. that because of their mobility issues - their families would find challenging at best to afford or handle alone - it's amazing to see! And that's why it's the best - because we see and meet and get close to these very unique and caring kids and their families in a way that I've not see in any other Charity - ever.

Comments ( 1 )

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Duavang 10/02/2014

Thank you so much for taking the time to write a review for Variety. We are so fortunate to have such passionate people like you serving on our Board of Directors!

Elisa K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered for Variety's new Chatter Matters summer camp this past summer. I'm a student in speech pathology and not only did this camp provide a great learning experience for me but it really made an impact upon children who needed alternative ways to communicate with other people because of their disabilities. The camp was highly functional, helping families and their kids to augment their use of AAC devices, but it was also a wonderful, energetic, and fun summer camp that was able to bring people together who face similar day-to-day challenges so they could connect and learn from each other. It was a moving experience for me as a volunteer and I heard much positive feedback from the attendees as well. I would not hesitate to recommend this camp to other volunteers or people interested in attending.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family and I just found out about this program threw another family with a special needs child and when they told me the fun outing, the ticket's to basketball games,and water parks and soo much more. plus they have this wonderful program where you can swap equipment omg who does that no execpt, Variety!!!! They can help you get equipment for your child this is the best program ever! I'm just sad it took me till last 2 weeks ago to find out about them so Thank you guys again for the ticket's to the Bucks game my daughter loved it and so did the whole family. Let me touch on that real quick too how great that they included everyone in the house! That's great I'm super excited to see what's next on the agenda for the summer:) Thank you so much we are very thankful because without this we would never have been able to do this on our own. My mother just passed away in November and the children and I have been really depressed lately so maybe God sent you guys to us to help fill our lifes back with joy! Thank you From the Wade and Robbins family

Client Served

Rating: 4

My family enjoys the Variety family events. Even though my daughter has a mental disorder instead of a physical disorder, we have been included in some of the events. We just went to the Christmas party at the Majestic Cinema to see "Monsters Inc." We hardly ever go to the movies because of the cost for 5 people. These events bring our family together and are very enjoyable.

Donor

Rating: 5

I attended Variety's annual luncheon this afternoon. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the stories, and information about what Variety does for children. What I think makes your organization so unique is that you aren’t raising money to help fund research (don’t get me wrong, I do think that’s important too) but you are just trying to find creative ways to help kids with disabilities feel more like other kids! What a loving and caring approach that is.

So in short, I have been moved beyond belief and I want to get involved! Please let me know what you need help with! I think it is absolutely amazing what you do to help disabled children and their entire families! I am so glad I was able to be there today to witness first-hand the look on Carson’s face when he saw his new blue bike! I will never forget it!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5












We are writing to share our experience at the recent Christmas party at Majestic Theatre. Our family was treated with courtesy and the staff present was particularly gracious. A few of the staff actually paid attention to our son and it was very touching. The world as a whole does not recognize the value of special needs children. Given the attention and care of this program was encouraging and an application of the meaning of Christmas. We have also been recepients of a custom-made bicycle for our son. We truly have been treated well by Variety Club.



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We are writing to share our experience at the recent Christmas party at Majestic Theatre. Our family was treated with courtesy and the staff present was particularly gracious. A few of the staff actually paid attention to our son and it was very touching. The world as a whole does not recognize the value of special needs children. Given the attention and care of this program was encouraging and an application of the meaning of Christmas. We have also been recepients of a custom-made bicycle for our son. We truly have been treated well by Variety Club.



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How would you describe the help you got from this organization?



How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?



How do you feel you were treated by this organization?



When was your last experience with this nonprofit? Select a year 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997










































































Add this nonprofit to My Favorite Nonprofits


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Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thank you so much Variety Club for the wonderful blessing you have given my son and us; He recently received a beautiful adaptive trike as a gift for Variety and would not have had this opportunity if they didnt help. We could not afford such a bike for him and are so grateful for this organization and what they did for my son and for others, keep up the great work you do!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

we are very thankful for Variety of Wisconsin in our lives. We have gone to two different events - the Harley Davidson Museum and the holiday party at the Majestic. We enjoy these free family events very much. It gives us the opportunity to participate in fun activities that we otherwise wouldn't be able to do and it is so nice to be around others who understand what we are going through.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Variety is new to our family as a resource for assistance for my son with Fragile X. Variety is excellent at making our family feel as a priority on their list at any time. May it be tickets to an event or monetary assistance for an item or service. Variety has helped my son gain his independence and his feeling of inclusion with the children in the neighborhood by helping us purchase a new bike for him to ride with fellow friends. Thank you Vaiety for being there when our family needed help.

1 Sara F.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wow.. our lives have been so enriched, blessed, made brighter by the love, and hard work of this organization and their volunteers. Every day is such a gift but in this beautiful mess of life sometimes, just getting through a week with multiple therapies, work, IEP goals , school appt's, navigating the grocery story can be a challenge - But at the Variety events, all of that is forgotten, it is about support , joy , accessible fun and friendship interaction with the kids. The easiest way for me to say it is, that this group gives us a place to "belong" and to feel connected. Thank You from our hearts :)

Client Served

Rating: 5

My parents and I started going to the activities since the last December. I am very grateful with your services. Thanks for making a difference in Our Lives.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our daughter was a micropremie at 26 wks. She is a true miracle and has overcome numerous hurdles. She is 13 yrs old now. We recently found out about Variety Club and have attended a few events. The events are so well planned and have given our family the opportunity to attend things we would have only dreamt about. The most recent event to Discovery World was phenomenal. Our daughter has had a permanent smile on her face since Sunday morning when we left for Discovery World Event:) The other wonderful opportunity was seeing a movie at Majestic Marcus Theatres in the Cinedine at Christmas time. Santa got an extra kiss that day.

Thank you to everyone who funds, volunteers and works to give our kids a happy moment which is building a lifetime of fantastic memories.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Variety helped my son receive an adaptive bicycle. With their help we are able to help our son do something "typical" kids do so he can be part of the group. We are very excited to pick up his new red bike!

Jose V.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We feel so blessed that Variety Children’s Charity of Wisconsin helped providing activities for the children.

Jose A. V.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It's a great program. It's awesome how they help the children.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For many years, Variety- The Children's Charity of Wisconsin has provided significant funding for cutting-edge technology and equipment for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin's Variety Orthopedic Center. With this funding, together, we have been able to provide children with physical disabilities with state of the art care. This past year, Variety made it possible for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin to become the first Children's Hospital in the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains, to obtain an EOS low dose full body radiation scanning device. This state of the art x-ray type machine provides a 3D clearer image than traditional x-rays and, importantly, with a dramatically lower radiation exposure than traditional x-ray technology (one tenth the normal dose). The variety club has been instrumental in purchasing a variety of diagnostic devices which have helped many children with orthopedic problems; a motion analysis system, which helps decide the best surgical or therapeutic procedure for children with cerebral palsy; Quantec, a device to monitor scoliosis progression which eliminated the need for thousands of spine films, EMED and PEDAR, plantar pressure devices to dynamically analyze children with complex foot deformities. In addition to their funding of equipment in the Clinic, Variety has also helped many Orthopedic Clinic patients by purchasing durable medical equipment that their families could not afford and insurance would not pay for. We at the Variety Orthopedic Clinic are grateful for Variety's longtime continued support for the children that we serve. John Thometz, MD Chief of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Professor Orthopedic Surgery Medical College of Wisconsin

Donor

Rating: 5

I have had the opportunity to work closely with Variety as a fundraising partner for over ten years and have personally witnessed their work in action. The passion and dedication of everyone involved in this organization is nothing short of inspirational. Gerise and her team are enthusiastic, thoughtful, caring and selfless about their cause. The children and families who benefit from their work are the true evidence of the success of Variety's mission. I haven't been part of a Variety event where every child in the room hasn't had a smile from ear to ear, which certainly speaks volumes. Whether it's taking kids to the movies, providing bikes to children with special needs or securing funding to remodel a home for wheelchair accessibility, it's clear that this organization has it's heart in exactly the right place. I am proud to partner with Variety and look forward to helping them positively impact the lives of more families.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Variety has assisted several of my patients. Without their assistance, these children would not have the equipment required to make them as independent as possible. In a world where healthcare is offering less and less assistance, it is a wonderful thing to have such a great charity available!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Our company has had the opportunity to work with Variety in two capacities— as a provider of medical equipment and as a member of their advisory committee. Both have been positive experiences. Variety works with a diverse group of vendors to find the best equipment for kids at the best price—always contentious of costs, but never sacrificing quality or cutting corners. Their efforts to find the right equipment to meet a child’s special needs and their commitment to help the kids and their families--not only with equipment, but with special projects and group outings that enrich their lives --is nothing short of remarkable. It has been very rewarding for us to work with Variety and to see first-hand when the equipment is delivered, how thrilled the kids are—and their families as well. Variety programs are reviewed and validated by professionals working with kids with disabilities to ensure the integrity of the programs. The advisory committee reviews applications, confirms the validity of the need/request, verifies that the equipment requested is appropriate and meets the child’s needs, and ensures that Variety is spending their programming dollars as wisely as possible. Everyone working with Variety has been enthusiastic and passionate about their cause. It’s amazing how much they have already accomplished for kids with special needs. Plus, they are always looking for new ways to help the kids and to reach out to families in need. It is both a pleasure to work with the Variety staff and committee members, and a rewarding experience to work with the recipients.