KCMO City Council Resolution


Tim McCoy-Variety KC volunteer, Board of Director Member spoke at City Council Meeting: August 2020

Variety is honored to receive this resolution and to let you know first-hand how important this is to our community.

I remember when Variety KC partnered with Parks and Rec for the first Inclusive  playground – and to date, we’ve completed nine throughout the metro area. The dedication to inclusion demonstrated by KC Parks and Recreation puts our city on the map – showing other cities what it takes to truly be a welcoming home for all kids, all families.

Nine inclusive play areas – with an estimated 100,000 users each year. That’s nearly a million visitors – and up to a fourth of them have a family member with a disability.

Simply playing at these facilities won’t change the reality of a Variety Kid’s life – the life of a child with disabilities……but it can be the vehicle for all children to explore and appreciate their differences and similarities…and that will create, even for just a moment, a more just world where everyone is an equal and valued participant.


Thank you for this important resolution – it commemorates a commitment to healthier kids and families and recognizes the importance of the inclusion revolution in building a stronger community.

GRAND OPENING-Variety KC Inclusive Playground- Wyandotte Park

Ribbon Cutting of Variety KC’s Inclusive Playground in Wyandotte County


Friday, August 21st – 9:00 am to 11:00 am

Wyandotte County Park, N. 126th Street, Bonner Springs, KS

Masks and Social Distancing Required

Variety’s inclusive “Field of Dreams” Baseball Themed playground in Wyandotte County Park will celebrate a Grand Opening on August 21st. The mayor and city officials will hold the official ribbon-cutting to kick off the safe public opening of the playground.

The event will be restricted to a crowd of 45 people, those interested should arrive early.

Following the opening, the park will be open to the public with adherence to safety guidelines, social distancing, masks, and being mindful of the number of children playing at once. As with all of Variety’s inclusive play areas, special steps have been taken to ensure all kids can play together. Peer-to-peer equipment, special surfacing for mobility ease, and fencing to keep children safe.

Playgrounds are where children discover cooperation and problem-solving. They observe similarities and difference and discover ways to play together. An inclusive playground has proven benefits for physical fitness and exercise, but they also help to even the playing field, allowing all kids to engage.

If you can’t attend the opening, the event will be shown on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/varietykc.

This playground is the ninth inclusive facility built through support from Variety KC’s #inclusionrevolution effort.

Meet the Kids – JETSON!

Meet the Kids – JETSON!

Jetson was born with some congenital brain abnormalities, including hydrocephalus and holoprosencephaly (HPE). Due to the hydrocephalus (excess fluid on his brain), Jetson required brain surgery when he was only four days old. The shunt placed in his brain has helped treat the hydrocephalus, but malformations in his brain have caused some other medical
issues such as hearing, vision loss, developmental delays, and epilepsy.

But you know what? To his parents, Jetson is their miracle child! He had a rough start to his life and doctors did not give them a positive prognosis for an outlook on Jetson’s life. Due to his diagnosis and seizure activity, he was sent home from the hospital at the age of one month with hospice supports in place.

As his parents prepared for the worst, but hoped for the best, they let Jetson lead the way. And lead he did, defying the odds, Jetson is strong and is growing every day (in every way!). He receives physical therapy, speech and language therapy, and vision therapy. He recently had surgery and received a cochlear implant. He wears a hearing aid on one ear and has a CI on the other. Once the pandemic is over, he will be getting glasses too!

Here’s what Jetson’s parents have to say, “he has opened our eyes to a whole new world of special needs. Jetson has 3 older siblings – 7-year-old brother, 6-year-old sister, and a 3-year-old sister. They LOVE Jetson so much! They love helping him, talking to him, holding him and trying to make him laugh. They (we all) would love if Jetson could have a way to play games with us and communicate with us.”

“Having an iPad would benefit Jetson greatly as assistive technology to aid his communication. One aspect of his vision loss is that he is drawn to lights, so he can see screens and that can be used to help his vision develop even more. We can use it for visual development tool as well as for speech, hearing, and language development. Every day with Jetson is a gift and he has taught us so much. We believe that his life is precious and valuable. Therefore, we desire to
provide tools that will equip him with opportunities for growing and developing even more. We thank you so much for your consideration and for all you do for kids with special needs.”

Variety KC thinks Jetson is a gift too!  And he will get the communication tablet he needs to help him communicate with his family, friends, therapists, and his community as a whole. Help Variety KC to make sure all kids have a “voice.”  Donate today at www.varietykc.org/donate

Thank you! #inclusionrevolution



Variety KC Spotlight on Macaroni Kid

Variety KC Spotlight on Macaroni Kid

Macaroni Kid JoCo. publishes weekly, hyper-local e-newsletters and website articles featuring events, activities, products, and places for moms, kids, and families to visit. They also host local events and parties, and connect with communities via their rich and extensive social media channels! Each community is managed by a local Publisher Mom or Dad!

Variety KC was recently featured in Macaroni Kid’s Overland Park community newsletter, with over 10,000+ subscribers, and as a spotlight on their website! Read the full article here: All About Variety KC!

Overland Park Families – Make sure to check out Macaroni Kid’s local event section for a full list of, fun and safe, activities, and events to do with your family!


Meet Our Board of Director’s Vice President- Marc Harrell



Meet our Amazing Variety KC Board of Directors Vice President- Marc the Amazing Harrell!

Marc Harrell is the General Manager for Steel City Media, the company who owns Q104, KC102.1, 94.1 KFKF and Mix 93.3. Marc joined the cluster in 2003 and was promoted to General Manager in 2009. Steel City Media is a private media company, based out of Pittsburgh, PA.  This multimedia company has market leading media outlets throughout Kansas City, and for the past 30 years, has maintained a local focus and commitment to the community it serves. The primary focus of Steel City is to crate and execute multi-platform, impactful media campaigns that includes radio, digital, print and more. Marc is a University of Kansas graduate and a fanatical Kansas basketball supporter. Marc was first introduced to Variety in 2007 and immediately fell in love with the charity and has been an avid supporter ever since. When Marc is not focusing on work or the charities he is involved with, he is traveling around the world, as travel is one of his biggest passions. Marc lives with his partner, Ken, and his Border Collie rescues, Kian and Isabella.

Variety KC Innovation Award

Variety KC Harness Café’s at Liberty Middle Schools.

For the first time ever, Body Weight Support technology has been moved out of the therapy gym and into the classroom. The “Harness School” Cafe is an innovative concept that allows middle school students who use wheelchairs and walkers a chance to stand upright with their hands free to fully participate in their school coffee shop. This allows them to practice job skills such as taking orders and serving coffee, integrate real-world math skills by operating a cash register, and socialize with their peers at eye level for the first time ever, all while gaining the therapeutic benefits of standing and moving on their own.

For an investment of $10,000 each, two Variety KC “Harness Cafés” have been built inside middle schools in the Liberty, Missouri, school district. The cafés sell and serve coffee, hot chocolate, and snacks while providing a life skills environment for students as part of the “Cooking to Learn” curriculum.  Each year, over 20 students with special needs will work in the skills class alongside 80 non-disabled peers. But before the implementation of these life-changing “Harness Cafes,” students with physical disabilities weren’t able to take full advantage of the learning, movement, and social opportunities working in the cafes.

As one student said, “Before the harness, greeter was the only job I could have. My wheelchair was below the counter, so I couldn’t make drinks or use the cash register. When I strap into the harness, it frees my hands and since it runs on a track – I can move all around the cafe. Now I can work just like my friends.

Dr. Kendra Gagnon, the physical therapist who helped Variety KC plan and design the cafés, says the system does more than facilitate movement for students who usually rely on assistive devices like wheelchairs or walkers for mobility. It gives students a chance to experience getting out of their wheelchairs and interacting with “customers” alongside their peers – upright, hands-free, and eye level.   In an upright position, eye-to-eye with their peers, all students learn what’s possible – disabilities disappear and new relationships are engaged and formed.

Money raised in the cafés makes the investment sustainable.

The most exciting outcome. As a supplier to the café’s, Danny O’Neill, the owner of the local Roasterie coffee company, attended the grand openings. Seeing the skills training enabled by the harness systems, O’Neill was inspired to go back to his own businesses to see where he could implement the system and provide jobs for local graduates who would benefit from this system.

Gagnon says, “My hope is that one day this system will be like a uniform. The employee would wake up, get dressed and put on the vest that they will later attach to the harness system at work. It will be seamless, needing no additional help from a co-worker or supervisor. How empowering and life-changing is that?”