July's Coachella Valley Spotlight grant goes to local nonprofit Variety - The Children’s Charity of the Desert. The $25,000 grant is made possible by the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.
To most people, 2-year-old AJ Pittelli might look like any other kid. However, he lives with a rare bone marrow failure disorder that affects his growth called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. Variety has helped his mother, Jessica get AJ the care he needs.
“We didn't realize that it was going to be something that would affect him his whole life," said Jessica. “They anticipate those needs before we even have a chance to, so that's been a huge help for us.”
The nonprofit provided an adapted stroller. Variety supports local children with special needs like AJ. As the nonprofit’s executive director, Heidi Maldoon leads its mission.
“Make sure every child is included, and every child has the potential to thrive and be their best version of themselves," said Maldoon. “We are so excited to be getting the $25,000 from the Berger Foundation. It's an amazing honor.”
The $25,000 grant will go towards multiple programs that provide socially inclusive activities, parent support, and adaptive equipment. Helping children, no matter their ability or income, to engage in their communities.
“AJ has a lot of medical issues and challenges that he's working through. And the stroller will make all the difference for them," said Maldoon.
The nonprofit works to make the joys of childhood accessible to every kid while helping them become confident and independent.
“We call him our forever baby because he's so little and snuggly, but there's a lot of challenges he's going to face as he gets older. And I know that this charity is going to be a big part of helping us get through those times," said Jessica.