The Variety Kids Telethon, now in its 55th year, is the nation’s longest-running, locally-produced telethon – and its home is right here in WNY! It all started back in 1962, when Dr. Robert Warner asked Variety to help him fulfill his dream of a rehabilitation center for children with special needs. The first Annual Variety Kids Telethon raised over $80,000, and the Robert Warner Rehabilitation Center for Children with Special Needs became a reality at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.
Since then, the Telethon has been a WNY treasure, all thanks to the tens of thousands of Western New Yorkers who tune in and pledge their support every year. The Telethon funds dozens of local children’s nonprofits, in addition to the Hospital, and every penny stays right here in WNY. It’s because of this we say “Variety is WNY.” We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you, WNY!
Make history with us once again this spring! The Telethon airs on April 2, 2017 from 7 am to 7 pm on WKBW-TV Channel 7. We’ll be broadcasting live from our new location at the Seneca Niagara Events Center in Niagara Falls, NY.
Celebrity Children – Twins Kelly and Kyle Hoffman
Each year, we select a Celebrity Child to provide a face for the sick, disabled, and disadvantaged children in Western New York that Variety serves. These kids reflect the diversity of families across the region that benefit from the public’s support of Variety, and their very real stories make our work even more important.
For 2017, we’ve got boy and girl Celebrity Twins for the first time ever! Kelly and Kyle Hoffman, 6, of Pendleton, NY are with us today because of the care they received at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo (WCHOB) and their own determination to overcome serious obstacles. In the words of their parents, Stacy and Brian Hoffman, here is the twins’ story:
“Born 10 weeks premature by C-section, the twins weighed 2 pounds, 9 ounces and were only 15 inches long. While at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Kelly and Kyle struggled to breathe and eat. They relied on oxygen machines for 8 weeks and feeding tubes for 6 weeks. In the NICU, it was touch and go: one step forward, two steps back. There were days when the twins struggled to stay alive, days when we weren’t allowed to hold them, days when we could only hold their tiny little hands through the openings in the incubators.
Kelly came home from the NICU at 8.5 weeks old, and Kyle came home at 10 weeks. They were finally able to breathe, eat, and maintain body temperatures on their own at 6 pounds. Both twins exhibited a severe delay with gross motor skills, and moderate delay with fine motors skills by the time they were 6 months old. They both qualified for Early Intervention, and started receiving physical therapy services at 7 months old.
The twins were monitored by the Robert Warner Center and WCHOB. They both had regular visits to monitor their development and make recommendations for therapy. By 12 months old, Kelly also started receiving occupational therapy services, and at 14 months, she started aqua therapy with a physical therapist through WCHOB. It was a blessing to have the Robert Warner Center. Their recommendations were very helpful, and allowed us as parents to increase and add services through Early Intervention when necessary.
At age 2, Kelly started to see Dr. Azaula, a motor specialist at WCHOB. Kelly had a brain MRI which showed periventricular leukomalacia – one of the leading causes of cerebral palsy. Obtaining the diagnosis of spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy enabled Kelly to receive all the necessary quantities and frequencies of therapy recommended. After years of therapy, treatment, and a major surgery, Kelly learned to balance and start taking some independent steps at age 5. Today, she is able to independently ambulate short distances, use canes for longer distances, and save her posterior walker for extremely long distances. She is also able to write her name, uses scissors and glue, and constantly continues to improve. She receives PT and OT at school, as well as hippotherapy, and aqua therapy. She is a well-spoken, witty, smart girl who loves to laugh, imaginatively play, and attend musicals and sporting events.
Kyle was able to respond very nicely with his therapies. With the help of PT, OT, and speech therapy, he was able to progress to a point where he no longer needed therapy by age 5. Today, Kyle is considered a normal kid without any delays. He is a warm-hearted, intelligent, sweet boy who loves to play soccer and floor hockey. He also loves to attend Buffalo Bills football games and Buffalo Sabres hockey games.
Both twins currently attend kindergarten at Starpoint’s Fricano Primary School. They both love their 4-year-old brother, Jacob, who was also a preemie born at 33 weeks. Jacob attends preschool and receives speech therapy at home.”