A Place Where Wolfie Can be Himself

When Rachel’s newborn son, Wolfie, began to show some slight delays in learning how to crawl and walk, she thought little of it. Her baby was born with torticollis, a condition in which a baby’s neck muscles become slightly twisted at birth. This common condition in newborn babies is easily addressed with physical therapy. Wolfie responded well to the therapy and Rachel was told by professionals that she might simply expect a slight delay in some of Wolfie’s movements and growth.

Over time, Wolfie displayed an easy-going personality and calm nature. When his daycare center suggested he get evaluated due to some developmental delays, Rachel was hesitant. She knew her son well and believed him to simply be a shy and quiet kid. But she eventually took their advice and had Wolfie evaluated. He qualified for occupational, physical, and speech therapies. That’s when Rachel realized her family’s world was about to change.

Rachel learned that her son has support needs, she set out with determination to make sure he had everything he needed. Along with these new needs came a whole new set of fears and questions, “Will people think something is wrong with my son? Will he fit in? Is he going to make friends?”

When Wolfie turned three-years-old, Rachel met Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis through the Bikes for Kids program. Rachel was surprised when Wolfie was received with open arms into Variety’s programs, thinking that “kids with disabilities” was known to mostly cover kids with visible physical and developmental disabilities. Her experience with Variety helped her see Wolfie with new eyes: his needs, “unseen” by most, were just as important as any child’s visible needs.

Wolfie loved his new bike which provided a welcome opportunity to be outside during the pandemic. “Thankfully, Variety kept in touch with us, and we would see their name pop up in other places. Maybe this is a place we could potentially consider an extension of our family and routine.” Rachel enrolled Wolfie in the next summer camp and his experience provided him with a safe place to be himself and make new friends. “It was magical how fast he started making connections!” His newfound friendships extended to his mom, too! Soon, Rachel was connecting with other parents and camp counselors. The world was not only changing – it was getting bigger.

“Variety isn’t just a place to get a bike or access programs. It’s a place that helps us know our kids belong, and we don’t always have to explain that they’re different.” Rachel shared, “I never feel like I have to apologize or explain how Wolfie might be feeling different on any given day at Variety. He can be himself at Variety.”

Wolfie is now four years old and a regular at Variety events. His enthusiasm for life and ability to make friends contrasts the quiet baby his mom noticed a few years ago. He has the tools and environment he needs to be himself. The world changed for Wolfie again, but this time, in a spirit of hope and connection with others.

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