Variety Blog

A Thank You Letter from Lonnie

Lonnie BlogWith more than 20 years in association and non-profit management, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an operation run as well as the Variety Children’s Charity of Greater Kansas City.

The Board of directors,  has an excitement about the group that’s contagious to everyone they comes in contact with. Their passion about those helped by the group and the “out of the box” fundraising ideas help to keep  volunteers engaged.


A Thank You Letter from Beth


Dear Variety,

I’ve had the awesome opportunity of working with Variety for the last 2 years and my experiences have been nothing but truly rewarding. As a volunteer, supporter, and events committee member, I have seen first-hand what this amazing charity does for our community and the amazing kids that it includes. Variety truly cares about the families they support. I get excited and more motivated each and every time I attend an event, knowing that I am part of this inspirational organization. Every face you see connected to Variety are truly the best people you will ever get to know. LOVE LOVE LOVE Variety!!!


A Thank You Letter from Sam’s Family


Dear Variety,

My son Sam is 11 years old and has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. He has been in a wheelchair since he was about 5. About 3 years ago, it became time to look into a new wheelchair for Sam, one with a lot more functionality than the basic one that he had at the time. It was important to us that we find ways to promote his independence as best we could, and getting the right wheelchair with all of the right functions was the key to that.

Once all the approvals and ordering and all were done, we were left trying to figure out how we were going to pay for the out-of-pocket expense that we would be responsible for when buying this particular wheelchair. As anyone who has every purchased a power wheelchair knows, they are quite expensive, and even with great insurance, having a 10% or 20% co-insurance due really adds up.

I was told that Variety Children’s Charity provided some resources and funding to help with the purchase of mobility equipment for kids, and was put into contact with Deb. Their group of young volunteers managed to raise the funds to help us pay for the out-of-pocket expense that we owed. Sam loved his new wheelchair and we got the peace of mind of not having to worry about the cost aspect of it all. Deb and Variety planned a big event when they did the official presentation of the check. It was a baseball themed function, since Sam is a big baseball fan. We met at a local high school baseball field, and were met by many of the Variety team and some local team mascots who played baseball with Sam and his brothers. There were news people there to interview us and to video the event for the news, which made Sam feel really special! It was a very cool thing. Since then, we have been invited to many Variety fundraising events where we have met a lot of special people.

This is a great organization, and we are proud to consider ourselves part of the Variety family!


A Thank You Letter from the Paro Family


Dear Variety,

My daughter was born with Spinal Bifida and is wheelchair bound. I recently received a call from my school nurse letting me know that the Shawnee Mission CCC Club at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School had raised some money. I then talked with Deborah from Variety KC and they decided that they wanted to help the high school find a student in the district to help, and they picked my daughter.

After they notified me of this fantastic news, we got to choose a hand cycle to purchase for my daughter so she can ride bikes with her family and friends. The school raised half of the funds and the charity came up with the rest.

We then had an event to show my daughter her new bicycle during recess at her school in front of the entire 1st grade class. Deborah and Variety made the event so much fun for everyone, they even brought books and stuffed Owls and Rabbits for each child at the event as well. It was very inspirational and my daughter and our family will forever be grateful to Shawnee Mission CCC Club and Variety KC for their hard work and kind hearts.

Great organization that I would recommend  to anyone who has a child with special needs. Variety cares!!


A Thank You Letter from Catie’s Family


Variety Children’s Charity of Greater Kansas City has an impact for so many families in the Kansas City area. Our daughter Catie as well as our family have been blessed by Variety Children’s Charity with the donation of an adaptive tricycle and orthotics. Catie has four siblings so mobility is vital in her world. The adaptive tricycle allowed Catie to ride beside her brothers and sisters. The orthotics have given Catie the strength to begin to learn to run. Variety Children’s Charity gave Catie the gift of being “just one of the kids”.

Additionally, Variety Children’s Charity has benefited our family by allowing us to meet a number of incredible giving individuals and families. Variety kids have given our family the gift of perspective. Variety kids cherish each day and value each moment. Their smiles and laughter are infectious to the soul.

Thank you Variety Children’s Charity of Greater Kansas City for blessing Catie with the gift of movement and blessing our family with your impact in the lives of kids with special abilities.


A Thank You Letter from Wickam’s Family

Dear Variety,
Our family is so deeply appreciative of your generosity in covering our bill for Wickam’s orthotic shoes. Thank you SO much for all you do. Because of your generous gift Wickam has been able to receive the shoes and we can already see how they are helping, without you he may not have had this opportunity. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Wickam is now very very close to being able to walk without our assistance as the support on his feet and ankles from the shoes is not only strengthening those areas but helping him to balance. Again, thank you for your generosity in helping kids and their families! We would love to meet you all soon so we can provide you with hugs!! =)

Blessings, Wickam’s Family


U.S. parents report rise in children with mental, developmental disabilities.


“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” –Fred Rogers

A new study published puts its finger on the pulse of childhood disabilities in America. The overall trend: mental and developmental disabilities have become significantly more prevalent in the last decade. But just as interestingly, there are different narratives emerging for richer and poorer families.

On Monday, the Associated Press reported on the findings of the study, which involved nearly 200,000 children. Parents reported on chronic conditions in their children, from birth age to 17 years old, between 2000 and 2011.

From the AP article, some of the numbers:

Overall, disabilities of any kind affected 8 percent of children by 2010-11, compared with close to 7 percent a decade earlier. For children living in poverty, the rate was 10 percent at the end of the period, versus about 6 percent of kids from wealthy families.

The overall trend reflects a 16 percent increase, while disabilities in kids from wealthy families climbed more than 28 percent, the researchers found. The trend was fueled by increases in attention problems, speech problems and other mental or developmental disorders that likely include autism, although that condition isn’t identified in the analyzed data.

What we’re taking away from this: poverty continues to be an aggravating factor for disabilities of all types. A lack of access to therapies, equipment and other basic resources makes a disability a much scarier obstacle for a poorer family. It’s not just about money, it’s about time: taking critical time off work to drive your child to the doctor, or finding the resources to seek treatments.

It’s a reminder to us that our mission is essential. By stepping in to pay for equipment, or to do the legwork to find those resources, we remove a crushing burden from parents in addition to securing a better future for their child.

Likewise, even better-off families need a helping hand. As a nation, we’re seeing an incredible rise in developmental disabilities ranging from autism to ADHD. The study found this surge to be the most prevalent in wealthier families.

Seeking answers as to why, this article from posits that it’s a growing awareness and increased access to online information that leads parents to diagnose and then seek treatment for their children. (It should be noted that Variety works extensively with children with autism and other developmental disabilities).

On a positive note, the study also found a significant drop in childhood physical disabilities: about 12 percent, which researchers chalk up to declines in asthma-related problems or childhood injuries. We’re hoping that as the medical field grows to understand the mechanics behind the autistic spectrum, we can turn the tide and see similar drops!

When the Barista Asked What My Son With Special Needs Has


By Jill Zane

I stopped at my usual morning iced coffee place, and as I was paying for my caffeine, the woman behind the counter asked what Caden has. She asked because I was wearing my Team Caden shirt — a shirt I wear with pride as often as possible, a shirt that has raised money for other children who are medically fragile.

I stuttered over my words. She was the first person to ever just ask me that. “What does Caden have?” There was no one word answer, no specific diagnosis. So there I was spatting off a bunch of symptoms as the line behind me began to grow. I could tell she was sorry she asked. But she did, so I felt she needed to know.

After I listed a bunch of medical terms I’m sure she didn’t understand, I thanked her for asking me. I appreciated the fact that she wanted to know what was wrong with my son. All too often people avoid the topic of Caden or just look at me with those “I feel sorry for you” eyes, or they possibly even turn away.

As I continued my drive to work, I thought about what my son might say if he could. I envisioned him relaying a message for all who had no voice, for all the children the world does not understand, for all those who are “different.”

What he would say:

Please do not feel sorry for me.

I know it’s hard not to because I can not do the things others my age can do. I can not sit up, walk, talk, run or eat, but I can feel. I can feel the breeze on my face and the warmth of the sun. I feel the love that surrounds me, the touch of my daddy’s whiskers as he kisses me, my mommy’s heartbeat as she rocks me to sleep. I hear my brother and sister’s conversations and smile when they mention my name because I know they, too, love me.
I may not be able to do the things I want to but I’m lucky because I’m so loved. I know I will always be protected and my mommy and daddy will never stop fighting for me. They take me everywhere and do their very best to give me all of life’s experiences. Because of this I’m luckier than many, so please do not feel sorry for me.

Please do not be afraid to hold me.

I know I have many medical conditions which make my body more fragile than most but I promise I will not break. Holding me is like holding any other child. If you feel comfortable with me in your arms, I will respond positively towards you. You will feel my body move as I laugh. You will see me look up into your eyes with love. I know it may seem scary to you, but I want to be hugged; I need to be held. I want to know that you are not afraid of me. Please ask to hold me next time you see me. My mommy and daddy would appreciate it too.

Please talk to me.

My body may be broken, but my mind is not. I understand you, and although I may not be able to respond verbally, I want to. I have so much to say to the world and the more you talk to me the more I will learn so maybe someday I will have a voice of my own.

Please don’t talk to me like I’m a baby. I know that it’s hard sometimes because I can only do the things a baby can do, but I’m a little boy, and I understand everything you’re saying. And because of that, please watch what you say in front of me. Your words can hurt me, heal me, scare me or comfort me. They can make me laugh. They can make me cry. Your words can give me strength or break me down. So please speak positively to me, encourage me and let me know you love me.

Please let your children play with me.

I’m not contagious. You can’t catch whatever it is I have. So please allow your children to play with me. It’s hard watching other children play without me. Even my own brother and sister play around me and not with me. Although there’s very little my body allows me to do, I can play. I know it’s hard but please try to find a way to make me a part of your world. I want to be able to do all the things you can do and maybe with your encouragement, some day can. Please don’t walk away when I’m near; walk towards me; hold my hand; try to make me a part of what you are doing. You may be surprised as to what I am able to do.

Please do not be afraid to ask questions.

My mommy and daddy are so very proud of me and always appreciate it when people ask about me. They always say they would rather you ask than walk away. I know it’s sometimes hard to come up with the right questions to ask but that’s OK. I don’t mind if you ask what’s wrong with me. My mommy and daddy know what you’re asking and it doesn’t offend them. What upsets them is when you avoid me or the topic of me. In their eyes I’m a perfect little boy with a broken body. That’s all it is. My body doesn’t work right because my brain got hurt. Otherwise I’m as typical as you or your child. Ask questions because knowledge will open your eyes to who I really am.

Please listen to me.

I know I cannot put words together, but I do have a lot to say. I say it with my expressions, my body and my eyes. If you pay attention, you can understand what I am trying to say. I may be saying “thank you” or “I love you.” Or maybe I am letting you know I’m in pain or am scared. Just like a newborn I have different ways of telling you my needs. Please do not assume you always know what’s best for me. Try your very best to listen to what I have to say.

Please appreciate the little things.

I know it’s hard sometimes and life can get pretty hectic, but please take the time to appreciate the little things. Appreciate your family, your friends and the world around you. Enjoy the beautiful sunrise, the sweet smells, and those perfect days. I know I do because I never know where I will be tomorrow. I’ve missed too many seasons and too many memories because I’ve been in the hospital. I’ve watched too many friends like me pass away. Life is so precious no matter who you are or how you live it. I may be limited with what I can do, but I know how very lucky I am. I’m lucky to have a family that loves me so much. I’m lucky because I was able to go to school today rather than lay in a hospital bed.


Yes… today, I am one very lucky little boy.


This post originally appeared on ‘Cause Caden Can.

When the World Needs a Hero, It Calls…the Minions!

minionsUniversal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment have collaborated with Variety – the Children’s Charity to create limited-edition pins featuring Illumination’s beloved Minions for Variety’s 25th annual Gold Heart Pin Campaign. Proceeds will benefit Variety programs that serve children who are disabled and disadvantaged.

The collector’s item will be available for a minimum donation of $3.00 in movie theaters and select retail outlets nationwide from November 2014 – August 2015, including Cinemark and B&B Theaters. A full list of participating locations can be found on

Since 1991, the Gold Heart Pin Campaign has been Variety’s signature fundraising endeavor. Variety works with one major motion picture studio every year, including Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Sony, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures to design a pin based on a film or character, including universally recognized characters Mickey Mouse, Kermit the Frog, E.T., Spider-Man, Shrek, Yogi Bear, Yoda, Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO and now, the Minions. Through this partnership, the Gold Heart Campaign has raised millions of dollars to help children in need.

© & ™ 2014 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Royals Give Lasting Memories to Children’s Charity Recipients

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Win or lose, the team will have a long lasting impact on the City. As a team, they donate time and money to various charities in Kansas City; Variety Children’s Charity is just one of them.

Bryce Pinter has dwarfism, but that hasn’t slowed him down. He’s even played with his favorite Royals Player, Lorenzo Cain. The seven-year-old met the center fielder at McCoy Park back in June. Two adaptive baseball fields were built in Independence.

“When the win column was pretty light for the Royals and the light wasn’t shining so brightly, they showed their true colors,” said Kara Pinter, Bryce’s mom.

The Royals helped fund the fields for Variety Children’s Charity, each costing $300,000 to build. The charity helps kids with special needs participate in the community.

“Kansas City is a better place because of the contributions of the glass family and the Royals organization, and Royals charity. We are so lucky that this good karma is coming back to them because they do so much for us,” said Executive Director Deborah Wiebrecht.

It’s the memories and friendships Bryce has made that will last a lifetime.

This article was originally posted on

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