Thursday, January 13, 2011

"It takes all sorts to make a world."

US Variety, "The Children's Charity" is an organization that was founded in Pittsburg, PA on October 10, 1927, when a group of 11 men involved in show business started a group named "Variety Club," primarily due to their representation of a 'variety' of facets in the entertainment business. However, it began its true calling when the manager of the Sheridan Square Theatre in Pittsburgh found an infant abandoned in the theatre. The baby girl had a note pinned to her clothing:

"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 alwas heard the goodness of showbusiness people and pray to God that you can look after her.

A Heartbroken Mother

After a thorough search of the areas found no trace of the mother, the Variety Club members agreed to act as her "Godfathers," underwriting her support and education. In honor of the Variety Club and the Sheridan Theatre, the baby was named "Catherine Variety Sheridan."

News about the decision by Variety’s founding fathers to care for a child captured the hearts of the community. Before long, more clothes, food, money and toys were collected than any one child would ever need, so Variety proposed to use the surplus to help other disadvantaged children. From this humble beginning this small group of dedicated individuals has grown into a multinational children's charity with chapters in 14 countries around the world.

When Catherine was five, her foster parents were selected from more than 300 applicants in a location away from Pittsburgh and her anonymity was preserved in her best interest. Her new family changed her name to Joan.

She later served her country as an officer in the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict and as a registered nurse in Vietnam. Joan raised a family of her own and spent much time working with children. She took great pride in the fact that she had “started it all”.

As Mrs. Joan Mrlik, she lived in Charleston, South Carolina, where she died of cancer in 1994. Her inspirational story that motivated the establishment of Variety the Children’s Charity lives on. Her memory remains strong in the hearts of every member of the Variety family.

Today, the Variety's National Mobility Program provides much needed assistance to children with mobility concerns. Over the years, they have realized these children desperately want to be active members of their communities, whether it is riding along their siblings and friends, surfing, hand-cycling, or just simply getting around on their own. But they need what most of us take for granted: access. For children with disabilities, this means having the freedom to go where they want to, either on their own, or if they need assistance, reducing the impact they make on those helping them. With the advent of many new mobility technologies, this access is becoming available to more and more children.

This story is inspiring. To me, diversity is a gift. The ability for people to be selfless and care for others to this extent gives me goosebumps. The program provides specialized custom wheelchairs to hundreds of kids per year. I encourage you to contact their Ohio chapter if interested, but also recommend the children in your area for help.

Information courtesy of

Sunday, January 9, 2011

You Da (Wo)Man!

"Hi, all you Roll fans! Lauren at the Polaris store is really enthusiastic about my
upcoming cross-country bike trip with WomanTours. We leave from San Diego on March
4 and arrive in St. Augustine on April 28th. We decided to travel with WomanTours after doing their trips to Moab, Utah and Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The folks at
WomanTours have been top-notch in every way - planning, answering questions, scenic
routes to ride, comforts of every sort, and a way to make marvelous new friends. I would recommend their company to anyone. And... thanks to Lauren for helping me get ready to ride!" -Marge Galloway

Name: Marge Galloway

Hometown: Cleveland, OH

Current City: Westerville, OH

How long ya been in the saddle?
I bought a hybrid in 1997 and rode a moderate amount for a few years. In 2006, my friend Katherine asked me to ride 70 miles with her to celebrate her 70th birthday and to raise $70,000 for charity. It seemed like an impossible task but I had a year to train. By that time, it was easy! And she raised $98,000. Over the last three summers, I have ridden over 5000 miles. She and I will be doing the cross-country/southern tier trip with WomanTours this spring.

Favorite Ride: I love the Little Miami Trail where we did the 70-mile ride - but we are blessed with many great bike paths in central Ohio.

Nutrition of Choice: Well, I like vegetables. I am sort of a near-vegetarian. I try to eat healthy and add a little chocolate!

When you're not on 2 wheels, you're ... reading for my two book clubs, singing in my church choir, riding with "SWIFT" - my bike club of Big Walnut friends, visiting people in nursing homes, and spending time with friends and family.

Next goal? Right now, it is to enjoy every minute of the cross-country trip. After that, I want to keep riding both my road bike and my recumbent. I hope that my friend Katherine and I continue to do bike trips with WomanTours.

If you had one wish...
I would wish that everyone could know how good it feels to get more exercise. I sponsor an annual 10K walk at my church to promote good health and to raise money for The Heart of the City Foundation, in the hope that others will increase their level of activity and reap these rewards. (Heart of the City Walk, June 25, 2011 can be found on Facebook.)

Something many don't know about me... I am a TOTAL non-athlete. I was never good at any competitive sport. I ride and I walk because of the incredible exhilaration and good health it gives me. I feel stronger and healthier now, being old enough for Medicare, than I did 30 years ago. I invite everyone to share these benefits! Just pick one activity and do more of it than you are doing now. It is that easy!

Additional Comments: Assuming that you who read this blog are already fairly active, I encourage you to invite someone else to increase her level of activity in 2011! The people at Roll can give you lots of pointers and encouragement.

Below are a few pictures from Marge's tours! Check them out!

Thanks, Marge! Good luck on your trip! Have a great time and take pictures for us! Have a question about WomanTours? Come into roll: and let us help you distinguish and prepare for your next goal! Need help planning a trip? Getting geared up? We're ready for you! Want a Women's specific clinic? Have a particular question that you need an answer to? Email us at!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Woman Tours

Happy New Year, ladies! So, what are the resolutions buzzing around up top? Stay in shape? Well, in my case, get in shape? Eat better? Ride more? What about do something a little different? SOMETHING to perplex the ordinary person? Something exhilarating? Perhaps I have the best answer for you. Ok, well maybe not me.. but, Marge Galloway, a roll: customer thought it sounded entertaining. Sure, the lady has crazy written all over her face, but you have to admire her for it. Truly. And now, I have caught the bug. It's contagious. Trust.

WomanTours is a pioneer, and only in its class, for bicycle touring specifically for women. Sold yet? Haha, ok maybe not. Allow me to continue, it won't take long. WomanTours offers nearly 50 different tours, ranging in experience of riders, to terrain, and tour time. Along with that, you have the opportunity to see the world on 2 wheels, ranging from the Santa Barabara and Saint Ynez Valley, to the Idaho Greenways, Moab Arches and Canyonlands, to the Tetons and Yellowstone, down to the Bayou in Louisiana, through the Outerbanks of North Carolina, around Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, and eventually the most eastern part of the States in Acadia National Park. Coolest part? You will be with a group of chicks, lowest number of 15 and capping around 30. You will be able to comfortably bike at your own pace, enjoy meals that are healthy and sustaining for your massive accomplishment, as well as make friends and accomplices that you can retain for a lifetime.

Seriously, ladies. Check this one out. It could make 2011 a memorable one. It is easy to get caught up in the daily race, to forget how to believe in ourselves and our abilities. Why not challenge yourself? Certainly, there are other ways, like sky diving, swimming with sharks, or streaking... BUT if I weren't promoting something on 2 wheels, I wouldn't be doing my job, and well quite honestly.. there is something about these bike tours that make you feel invincible. Trust me, on a bike, memories are richer. You can remember something in sequence from recollections of sights and smells, but they are accompanied by several unexplainable present sensations. You know? The ones that are there, but you don't know how to describe them? Like Patrick Swayze in Ghost?!

Moab: Canyonlands and Arches Bike Tour from WomanTours on Vimeo.

Anyway, challenge yourself. And if you sign up for something, let us know! We would love to hear about it, see it, and help you achieve it. Send us any questions, comments, or cool stories of interest at!