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Plum family one of many touched by children's charity

Michael DiVittorio
| Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, 3:21 p.m.
The Robledo family makes their way through Forbes Hospital in Monroeville recently after receiving a new stroller for Savanah, 15, from Variety — the Children’s Charity.
Michael DiVittorio | Tribune-Review
The Robledo family makes their way through Forbes Hospital in Monroeville recently after receiving a new stroller for Savanah, 15, from Variety — the Children’s Charity.

The Robledo family of Plum has had to craft a language of their own to communicate with their oldest child, Savanah.

The 15-year-old suffers from epilepsy, poor muscle tone and other medical problems.

"Unless you're going through it, nobody understands it," her father, Sergio, said about raising a special needs child. "Even though she's nonverbal, she has a way of telling you what she wants."

Savanah attends school at the Children's Institute in Squirrel Hill. Her disabilities make it challenging to go on family trips.

Robledo said the family's been using a custom stroller provided by their insurance company for nearly eight years.

"Because they paid for the chair that we have, they won't give anything else," the father said. "We can't get another one for five years."

But the Robledos didn't have to wait. Pine-based Variety — the Children's Charity gave them an adaptive Kid Kart Mighty Lite stroller at a recent event at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville.

"The stroller will help us to be able to be out in the community as a family," said her mother, Sandi. "We will be able to transport her to and from school safely ... take her on walks around the neighborhood. It will help her to be part of the family, but most of all it will give Savanah the ability to be a part of everything life has to offer."

Variety gave away two bikes and six strollers to Western Pennsylvania families at the event.

Charles LaValle, CEO of Variety, said the My Stroller program was unveiled in November 2014 in response to parental suggestions through its My Bike program, which provides adaptive bicycles to children with disabilities.

"You can learn a lot by listening to the families," he said. "We have to get the kids on the right equipment."

Variety also gave away eight iPads with communication apps designed for children with a communication disorder.

They were designed to enable kids to have a voice and express their thoughts and needs.

Distribution was made through Variety's My Voice program.

The charity serves 42 counties in the state including Westmoreland, York, Allegheny, Adams and Jefferson.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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