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Highlights • Highmark Health Plans

Ella, age seven, from Butler, Pennsylvania

For many children with disabilities, the joy, freedom and sense of belonging that's unique to riding a bike would never happen without Variety—the Children's Charity and its signature program, "My Bike."

For Ella and other children with disabilities: The joy of riding a bike

For many children with disabilities, the joy, freedom and sense of belonging that's unique to riding a bike would never happen without Variety—the Children's Charity and its signature program, "My Bike."

Since 2012, with the support of founding sponsor Highmark Inc., Variety has presented more than 850 children who have disabilities with adaptive bikes—bikes specially customized just for them. For the children, their new bikes are often life-changing fun and non-stop smiles. For parents, the bikes can be a dream come true, evoking tears of happiness.

In 2015, Variety and Highmark partnered to expand the "My Bike" program from western Pennsylvania to central Pennsylvania and West Virginia. As a result, 100 more kids were able to call a bike their own.

With the cost of the high-tech bikes at $1,800 each, Highmark companies and Variety reach into local communities to recruit additional sponsors, who have quickly gotten on board with the program, often becoming long-term advocates.

In West Virginia, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia partnered with the Black Bears baseball team for "Strikeouts for Charity" to support Variety. Through the campaign, two kids were presented with bikes during a game. "It is only through the sincere support of community partners like Highmark and the West Virginia Black Bears that Variety has been able to impact children with disabilities and give them opportunities to discover the possibilities for their own lives," reflected Variety's Chief Executive Officer, Charles Lavallee. In Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, kids from seven local counties got bikes, many riding for the very first time.

Said Shannon, the mother of Ella, age seven, who received her special bike, "Ella wanted to ride on the bike trail and participate with her brothers. But she couldn't balance on two wheels. It is awesome to see her pedal this bike—to be a part and not be excluded. That means the world to us."

Highmark Health Plan President Deborah Rice-Johnson serves as president of Variety's board and was honored in 2015 with the Variety Advocacy Award. "Variety truly makes a difference in the community," said Deborah, a long-term champion. "It vastly improves the lives of many, many children with its very special mission." Deborah is proud to partner with Variety on their important work, another example of how the people and companies of Highmark Health work in many ways to get health care right.


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