Real joy is infectious, especially when it comes from a child who lives with disabilities and is experiencing the freedom of riding a bike for the first time.
That's why Highmark is proud to be the founding sponsor of Variety's My Bike Program, which provides adaptive, customized bikes to children with disabilities.
With adaptive bikes, these kids have a chance to exercise and improve their health and also experience the fun, independence and sense of belonging that all kids need. These incredible, bike-riding kids are living proof that the gift of freedom should always be part of growing up.
OPEN ON VIEW OF PHYSICAL THERAPY GYM, WITH THREE TRIKES IN CENTER.
SUPER: 10:07 a.m. Pioneer Education Center
CUT TO VIEW OF AIDE HELPING ADOLESCENT BOY WITH SPECIAL NEEDS TO SIT ON TRIKE.
SFX: CLICKING AND SNAPPING AS AIDE SECURES THE SAFETY EQUIPMENT.
SUPER: Riding a bike is a rite of passage.
CUT TO VIEW OF SECOND AIDE HELPING YOUNG GIRL TO MOUNT SECOND TRIKE.
SUPER: An experience Highmark believes every kid should have.
GIRL LOOKS OVER TO FIRST BOY AND GIVES HIM A THUMBS UP SIGN AS AIDE COMPLETES SECURING HER ONTO THE TRIKE.
CUT TO VIEW OF THE TWO PATIENTS, HELMETED AND SAFELY STRAPPED IN, SMILING AND RIDING THEIR TRIKES AROUND THE GYM AREA.
SUPER: So, we help Variety give incredible bikes to incredible kids.
THIRD, SMALLER BOY ENTERS THE CIRCLING GAME ON HIS TRIKE.
SFX: GIGGLES FROM THE KIDS
SUPER: Taking their freedom
(REMAINING TEXT FADES IN)
SUPER: Taking their freedom to another gear.
THE KIDS RIDE THEIR TRIKES OUT OF THE ROOM, INTO THE ADJACENT HALLWAY.
GYM SCENE FADES OUT TO END FRAME: (WHITE SCREEN)
VO: Living Proof of the difference you can make when you’re All for Health.
HEAD: LOGO: Highmark®
VO: Blue Shield
LOGO: Blue Shield®
"Variety and its My Bike Program wouldn't be what it is today, if it wasn't for Highmark," said Charlie LaVallee, CEO of Variety the Children's Charity of Pittsburgh. "Highmark's leaders helped us get established. They paved the way."
In 2012, Highmark became the founding sponsor for Variety's My Bike program. The program has evolved since then. Now, the kids get together to ride bikes in Pittsburgh's Labor Day parade and gather for other family-fun events.
"We're helping to create a community where the whole family can get involved together to ride bikes," says Deborah Rice-Johnson, president, Highmark Health Plan, and president of the Variety board of directors.
"Every child should have the chance to ride a bike. And for kids with special needs, riding a bike can be the difference maker in helping them improve their health and enrich their emotional well-being," said Rice-Johnson.
Since its inception, the program has donated more than 1,100 Rifton™ adaptive bikes to eligible kids, at a cost of $1,800 to sponsor a bike. Families are required to meet certain income and other eligibility requirements.
Currently, Variety's My Bike Program serves eligible kids with disabilities in 50 counties throughout Pennsylvania and in West Virginia.
My Bike provides a wonderful resource that:
"Being a part of this program has changed my life," said LaVallee. "Once you see the joy and the freedom that a child with special needs experiences when they receive their bike, you understand the real value of this program."
Along with My Bike, Highmark works closely with Variety to make other programs available to families. These give children:
Highmark and its employees host Variety's Holiday Party each year. This special event is designed for family fun, where children with disabilities and their families can be together, be themselves and be accepted for who they are.