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

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