Variety, the charity, helps Brookfield boy without full limbs ride his own bike
Christmas came a few months early for a Brookfield 5-year-old boy.
Francis Kahle came into the world with a rare disorder called Tetra-amelia syndrome, which resulted in him being born without four complete limbs. Nevertheless, Francis really wanted to ride a bike with his friends.
Children’s Charity of Wisconsin, Brent Emery Bicycles, Harley Davidson, and American Family created a special bike that Francis can operate with artificial arms. The bike, which is called “Francis Flyers,” allows him to pedal with his arms and sits on a tricycle-type frame.
He received the adaptive bicycle in August
Variety’s motto is that all children deserve the opportunity to pursue a limitless future and the charity works to inspire children to discover life without limits.
Nancy Major, CEO of Variety – The Children’s Charity, Wisconsin chapter, said, “The mission is “Improving the lives of at-risk, disadvantaged, critically ill or special needs children, regardless of ability to pay,” Major said.
Major said some engineering masterminds built the one-of-a kind, specialized bike for Francis.
The little boy “took off like a jet”, as soon as he laid eyes on the bike, Major said.
Laura Kahle, Francis’ mom, said her family is thankful for the extraordinary people who worked diligently in so many ways to make it a reality for Francis.
The bike means independence and inclusion to Francis.
“He can ride it just like any other 5-year-old, and he is already asking if he can take it to ‘far away places,’ like the playground and school,” Laura said.
His mom said Francis loves having a challenge to conquer. He’s still learning how to ride the bike uphill and how to make it go as fast as he wants on a level surface.
“It has been a great way for him to push himself and have fun in the process,” Laura said.
Variety dates back to Christmas Eve in 1928.
On Christmas Eve
Variety – the Children’s Charity was inspired from an eventful Christmas Eve in 1928. John H. Harris, manager of a theatre in Pittsburgh, discovered a 1-month-old baby girl abandoned on one of the theater seats with a note pinned to her dress:
“Please take care of my baby. Her name is Catherine. I can no longer take care of her. I have eight others. My husband is out of work. She was born on Thanksgiving Day. I have always heard of the goodness of show business and I pray to God that you will look out for her. — A Heart-Broken Mother”, according to the charity’s website.
As the men cared for Catherine, they became aware of many other children in need of help and support and continued to raise money even after an adoptive family had been found for Catherine. Many entertainers around the world became inspired to help children with special needs, according to the website.
Major reflected on the charity’s origin and how in the 20s, there was polio, premature birth, and sudden infant death.
“As the medical field, finance and technology have improved, the charity has evolved to better meet the needs of today,” Major said.
In 1935, a chapter in Milwaukee was formed. This year the charity is celebrating 90 years of making children’s dreams come true.
More Christmas cheer
Variety has its roots in the entertainment industry, but its heart is the community.
“People from all walks of life, organizations, corporations and foundations contribute through Variety and experience the joy of helping a child, confident that their generosity has real impact and results in markedly improving a child’s future and making the world a better place,” Major said.
She said a key component to the charity’s success is its partnerships, such as Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
The charity was located in CHW’s corporate facility up until five years ago when it moved to Elm Grove. The referrals for adaptive and medical equipment, terminally ill children and children with special needs have come from hospital entities, such as CHW, Major said.
She also cited Marcus Corp. as a huge partner. She credited founder Ben Marcus as being instrumental in building a relationship with the Wisconsin theater community.
The charity along with several other corporations such as Marcus, are hosting an annual holiday party for children at four different Marcus theatre locations. Children and their family members get to see a special private screening of a movie, snacks, and gifts at no cost.
The holiday cheer wouldn’t be complete without Santa making an appearance during the party.
For more information on the work the charity does, donating or volunteering, visit www.varietywi.org.