Variety’s Sunshine Coach program grants vehicles to organizations that support children with
special needs, providing a comfortable, safe mode of transportation.


Variety – The Children’s Charity, an organization which gives financial support to individual families and organizations across British Columbia that care for children with special needs is teaming up with 102.3 The Wave to host the 8th Annual Radiothon fundraising event at Woodgrove Centre in Nanaimo on April 8.

The show will be on air from 6 am to 6 pm. In between newscasts, it will go to the live location set up in the mall’s centre court, where families will be sharing their stories. Mall goers will have the chance to interact as they walk by and, as a treat for the kids, an appearance by the Minions will also be available for photo ops from 12-4 pm by donation.

The annual fundraiser serves two purposes: to bring awareness about Variety and to raise money for the community. Variety is a worldwide organization, and though they have chapters in several countries around the world, all the proceeds from the Radiothon will go directly into the Nanaimo community to help children and families with kids who have special needs. The proceeds help cover special expenses that aren’t covered by BC medical care, including some lifesaving medications, travel costs to medical centres, wheelchairs, hearing aids, and the means to experience life-enriching summer camps and special schools. Last year the Nanaimo event raised $25,676. The organizers are hoping to match or surpass that target this year.


Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization runs an academic program in the morning, and then the afternoon is focused on life skills and recreation activities.

One local organization Variety has partnered with is the Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization (NUKO), a learning centre for children with neuro-developmental disabilities. NUKO began their journey with Variety in 2007 when the organization applied for a Variety Sunshine Coach. Last month, NUKO celebrated its 10th birthday with a party, and during his speech, founder Rod Gallant thanked Variety for their involvement over the years.

“As we go through our 10 years, we’ve been fortunate enough to have Variety – The Children’s Charity be involved with us and help us by getting us our vans to take our kids out in the community,” said Gallant. “Education is yes, one component we all need to know; we all need to know how to read, to write, to count money, that kind of stuff. But there’s the ability to go out and be part of our community, to go out to these places, swimming, and to those community events.”

Variety’s Sunshine Coach program lives on a shared arrangement, where Variety’s donors provide 50 percent of the funds to acquire the vehicle and the recipient organization provides the other 50 percent, so long as the logos and donor names remain intact throughout the life of the vehicle. In 2010, NUKO applied for another Sunshine Coach and today they have two vans which are used to take the kids on outings. Access to these vans ensures the kids are safe and comfortable as they travel, and also spare the staff from having to use their personal vehicles.

Variety is actively seeking volunteers for the event in Nanaimo, and those interested can fill out a volunteer application on the Variety website, or email the Manager of Volunteer services at

NUKO also takes on practicum students from VIU and Discovery Community College. For more information, email Program Manager Teresa Nielsen at