Braden Walter

Braden Walter

Variety Club’s show of hearts creates smiles

Variety Club Show of Hearts Telethon runs Saturday and Sunday on Global TV

The Variety Club never gives up on children. Barb Walton and her son Braden Walter, are among many families who have had help to meet needs as they arise.

“Variety gave Braden a special tricycle a few years ago but he was not able to ride it on his own as we had hoped,” said Walton. “We were able to give the tricycle to the occupational therapist for the school district so several children are now able to benefit from it. We were hesitant to ask again for a tandem bike.”

Walter, 18, is a Clarence Fulton Secondary student  who has Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. He developed normally until he was nine months old, then he started to have seizures, which have never been completely controlled. His development slowed and he is non-verbal and requires total personal care. His greatest pleasure is to be in the outdoors but opportunities are limited.

“There are a lot of places you can’t go with a child with a disability to do things as a family,” said Walton. “The rest of the family likes to bike and, of course, parents like to teach their children to bike and see them enjoying it. We asked Variety for a tandem bike so that someone could ride with him.”

Walton thinks a lot of families who could benefit from help from Variety do not apply because they don’t know the range of services or think the application process is too intimidating.

“You do have to ask. They will not come and find you. But the application is easy. You need to have a letter from a professional about the need. We had an occupational therapist say how biking would help Braden with keeping his leg muscles active, he pedals as much as he can, and describe what kind of bike would be most useful. We got the custom-made bike, which cost about $5,000, about six months after we applied,” she said.

“They were so generous. Braden really enjoys it. He sees other kids doing things and wants to participate. The biking is so beneficial to him in helping build strength in his legs. He uses the bike at school in the winter in the halls for exercise. He graduates this year and he will be able to use the bike in adult programs so he will continue to benefit from it well into the future.”

Now Braden’s older brothers can take him out on the bike. The family also got assistance from Variety for a van conversion.

“I was thrilled to get the bike and quite humbled because they were so generous. Variety has allowed us in a small way to be a typical family. We would not have been able to get the bike otherwise because there are so many other costs with a child with disabilities that you just don’t have the money for extras,” said Walton.

She remembers watching the Variety Telethon when she was a child and that her family always supported Variety.

“I never dreamed that someday I would have to access their services,” said Walton.

“Variety is very supportive and generous and nobody needs to feel embarrassed about asking for help. Variety allows families to do normal activities in situations that are not normal. You never know who could be benefiting from help from Variety. It could be people living on your street. It could be your family.”

The Variety Show of Hearts Telethon takes place Saturday and Sunday on Global TV with the entertainment segments featuring Michael Buble, Mariah Carey, Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Adele, and others. The 2011 telethon raised $7,012,483 to help children with special needs in the province.