Meet the Kids: Ma’Liyah

Ma'LiyahMa’Liyah is a toddler affectionately called “Liyah” by her family. She is a people person who lights up when meeting others. She loves her family, her toys and cartoons (especially Doc McStuffins!). With spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Liyah is unable to stand by herself. Her world is seen from sitting or laying down and observing others. A medical stander would allow Liyah to experience the world from the same perspective of her peers. It is important for kids with special needs to be around other kids, so that they recognize and understand they are just as important. Variety partners, volunteers and donors know that – and that is why they have made it possible for Liyah to have her stander.  

You can help kiddos like Liyah too! Visit to find out how. 

Jill DeBok: 2016 Presidential Citation

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Variety KC was proud to nominate longtime Variety supporter Jill DeBok for the Presidential Citation. Her dedication is an amazing example of how, through engagement, a one-time volunteer can grow to become an important contributor and asset. For more than a decade, Jill has supported Tent 8, and has been a board member and volunteer for more than eight years, serving as board President in 2014.

Jill works for Pepsi America. She was first introduced to Variety through her client and Variety supporter Nancy Pagel, of the HyVee grocery stores. Initially, Jill was involved by providing donations, volunteering and attending events with Nancy, but Jill’s involvement grew over the years to include the board’s presidency.

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As the mother of a very active girl, Jill feels deeply for Variety Kids and their families. Her commitment has never wavered – not as she went back to school to pursue her masters, and not with increased responsibilities at work.  She also encourages her daughter to volunteer at events, raise funds and assist with starting Teen Variety KC.

Jill’s enthusiasm for Variety’s mission is demonstrated in the way she involves others. Working for a company that partners with major community events and organizations, Jill has opened many doors and exposed so many new partners, donors and volunteers to Variety. Being able to spread the Variety story is important for Jill, and through her, Tent 8 has been able to have messages displayed on the back of highly visible Pepsi trucks and at professional sports venues. Her influence doesn’t end at the Kansas/Missouri state lines; she shares her experiences with co-workers in other markets, encouraging them to seek out Variety tents in their own communities. Jill takes every opportunity to apply for community grants from Pepsi, recruit volunteers, provide products for numerous large scale events, and secure large corporate sponsorship for Variety fundraisers.

Her skill set and background includes the development of talent and leadership. Nowhere is that more evident than on the Variety Board of Directors. It was under her board involvement and leadership that Tent 8 saw some of its most successful years of growth and created a seven year strategic plan for sustainability. Even after stepping down from the presidency, Jill remains more passionate than ever, mentoring new members and engaging new volunteers.

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From donating soda, to donating time, to more than a decade of generously giving of her time and resources – Jill DeBok is the very definition of a Variety supporter. She explains it herself by saying, “it starts when you meet your first Variety Kid and see the life-changing impact that an adaptive bike or stander can make. And you want to see more of that…more smiling children, more parents with a bit of relief on their faces. For me, that was a bit of a honeymoon phase. After really getting involved with Variety, you realize these success stories don’t just happen. It takes work, it takes resources. For me, doing what it takes to make more of these happy endings happen – that is the greatest reward of all.”

It is for tremendous attitude and her contagious leadership style that Jill DeBok received the Variety International Presidential Citation Award.

See how you can get involved with Variety, too by visiting

Meet the Kids: Jonathan


Jonathan is bright little boy with Down syndrome. Through his iPad, he learned his shapes, colors and even some reading. Most importantly for children with Down’s, he had apps to help with memory skills. Then his iPad broke and his single stay at home mom could not afford to replace it. But generous Variety donors could, and they did! And now Jonathan is back to eagerly learning and advancing again.


Help other children like Jonathan by visiting


North Star Academy Community Living


Variety works with partner organizations all over our area. As the newest initiative of the CLO Children’s Network, North Star Academy Community Living provides on-site services for individuals ages 5 to 22 with intellectual or developmental disabilities, aiming to “improve the quality of intervention services and enrich the lives of our students.” 13619978_1310472512296538_3792168157234976867_n

North Star Academy Community Living reached out for help in acquiring an adaptive bicycle. This bike would be used as a way for the individuals they serve to exercise and gain strength.

One gift, touching many lives. Variety is proud to be a good steward of our donor’s gifts, maximizing every dollar spent and spending less than ten percent on administrative costs. As a volunteer organization with just one full-time paid employee, we make sure the money you give gets to the children you want to help. Want to know more?

Meet the Kids: Christopher

Christopher editWhat would you do if you received a letter about a little boy named Christopher, who is both non-verbal and non-mobile, but can’t be in the social situations he craves because of transportation issues? Well, if you are Variety KC, blessed with wonderful donors and partners, you would secure an accessible van for Christopher so he could get all the joy he can out of his inclusion in activities and gatherings outside the home. 

Find out about other young lives you can affect at