“Victories for Vardas” goal: to buy a very special family van


Don Varda (orange shirt) and his LPHS visual communication students supporting his cause. (Click photo to enlarge)

By WNLP’s Bob Wellinski

Dan Bigg met Don Varda for the first time nearly two years ago with tennis being the subject. After meeting Varda’s family, Bigg admits the term “love” took on a deeper meaning well beyond the sport.

Bigg is a former La Porte Slicer who won a state tennis title. Varda is the current Slicer boys and girls tennis coach.

That day when Bigg stopped by the Varda home, he was moved by the love and compassion among the family members: Diane (Don’s wife) and their four children, Marie (26), Joseph (15), Michael (24), and Allison (20).

Dan Bigg

“The Vardas have two special-needs children (Marie and Joseph) and it touched me to see so much love in that family,” Bigg told WNLP.

Bigg also learned during the visit that the Vardas rely on a 2004 van with more than 286,000 miles on it to transport the children.

“I felt called to help, and asked if they would let me help. If you don’t know somebody needs help, you can’t help them,” Bigg said.

The chance meeting has now turned into Victories for Vardas, an effort to raise money for a new family van.

Bigg and Varda explained that specially equipped vans are very expensive, especially for two special-needs individuals. “It has to be custom fit for the two kids due to their needs — somewhere between $48,000 and $56,000,” Bigg said.

Varda, who also teaches visual communication at LPHS, was left speechless when his students walked into class last week sporting Victories for Vardas T-shirts (see photo). “When they walked into class wearing those shirts, my jaw hit the floor. I love those kids; they are the best,” said Varda.

Varda obviously knows firsthand about helping kids. He’s purchased a few racquets or helped with lessons for those in need. Don said he’s happiest for his wife, who makes caring for Marie and Joseph look easy. He said his family feels extremely blessed and humbled by the fundraisers’ generosity.

Bigg has reached out to numerous organizations and said they’ve responded without hesitation to join the fundraising effort.

Among the efforts in which the public can participate:

– Kate O’Connor’s Irish Pub, 415 E. Michigan St., New Carlisle, is hosting a weeklong give-back through Sept. 5. Twenty percent of each bill, with a coupon, will go to Victories for Vardas. Simply print the coupon at right and present it at the restaurant.

– The South Bend Racquet Club will host an event Sept. 5 from 8 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. La Porte time during which it will donate all tennis and pickleball court rental fees. Also, door prizes will include 1 new tennis racquet (winner’s choice from pro shop stock) and 1 new pickleball paddle from Paddletek.

– Raffle tickets are available for two sets of two tickets to the Colts-vs.-Houston game Oct. 17. Bigg said the seats are on the field, close enough that “you hear the players getting yelled at and all the collisions on the field.”

– Four tickets, level 100 gold section behind White Sox dugout, are available to a Chicago White Sox-vs.-Detroit Tigers baseball game.

– Two tickets are available to the Notre Dame football season opener vs. Toledo on Sept. 11. Seats are mid-level behind the ND bench.

Raffle tickets for all these events are $10 each. The drawing is Sept. 5. To purchase raffle tickets and for more information, contact Bigg at (812) 455-1166 or email dbigg1@frontier.com.

7 Responses to ““Victories for Vardas” goal: to buy a very special family van”

  1. Ralph Vogel

    Aug 31. 2021

    Will there be a way to make cash/check donations? Perhaps a go-fund-account?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Mike K

    Aug 31. 2021

    Varda’s are a wonderful family! I got to know Michael when he was in high school… great kid! In fact WSBT highlighted him during him senior year.

    Dan Bigg is a great community resource and excellent at fundraising… this will most certainly be a tremendous success!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Dan Bigg

    Aug 31. 2021

    Ralph, Call me at 812-455-1166 to discuss. Thanks for your interest.

    Reply to this comment

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