WATERLOO — Four children pedaled through the aisles Tuesday morning at the VGM Heartland Conference.
Zoey Down and Nolan Jordan, both 5, Jayben Westlund, 8, and Jamari Kruse, 11, rode brightly colored tricycles with smiles on their faces as conference attendees clapped at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center.
“Seeing their facial expressions is what it’s all about,” said Scott Owen, senior vice president of contracting at VGM.
VGM collaborated with the children’s charity Variety, along with Rifton, an adaptive equipment manufacturer from New York, to donate the tricycles to the Cedar Valley families.
This is the fourth year VGM has donated gifts to local families. Owen said the company approaches the children’s charity with what they’re able to donate each year. Variety then offers a list of individuals interested and matches the families’ needs with what VGM is donating.
“Typically it’s a … rehabilitation-type component,” Owen said.
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The equipment donated is valued at over $27,000.
Owen said families with “a developmental need that needs to be addressed” are their focus. Zoey, Nolan, Jayben and Jamaria would not be able to ride a bicycle on their own. Owen said VGM wants to assist the children in the community by giving them “something that can help them succeed.”
Two other recipients who were not in attendance Tuesday were Diane Loftus and Janae Lee.
Loftus is receiving a high-frequency chest wall oscillation therapy vest and Lee a modular ramp system after the conference.
“Having special equipment … is always super helpful,” said Ross Jordan, Nolan’s father. The adaptive tricycle is one Jordan said they could not afford on their own.
VGM Heartland Conference is an annual two-day educational conference at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center. Businesses from around the country convened to listen to speakers on topics such as retail, rehab, marketing, human resources and leadership. This year had 1,000 attendees from 45 different states.