• Cheryl Wright

The SideKicks Program: Be active & make a difference


If you've been looking for a way to become (or stay) physically active and/or make a difference in our community, then this is the perfect opportunity to accomplish both. SideKicks is a program of the Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center (LCNFC) that pairs special needs individuals with walking and running buddies to help motivate and support them during walks or runs.


SideKicks meets on Mondays at 6:30pm at White River Running Company (WRRC, located at 325 5th St) and pairs walking or running buddies (SideKicks) with special needs individuals (Heroes) ranging in age from teenage to adult.

This program began when the need for walking and running partners for individuals with special needs was recognized. Some people with special needs require others to support and motivate them and keep them on course during a walk or run, so this program provides that.

They are always looking for SideKicks / buddies and always glad to have more Heroes / special needs individuals.

There is a wide range of speeds and abilities; a few participants run fast, like Josh Holley who came first in FFY's Holiday Fun Run on December 2nd, while others run at a slower pace and many others walk. There is no weekly commitment; there are some people who come almost every week and others who show up once every few months. The group is currently using their winter route, which is just one mile around town, and then if people want to go further, they can repeat the loop to do 2 or 3 miles.

So, if you enjoy meeting new people and can walk or run one mile, this program could be perfect for you.


Blair Kuethe, a relative newcomer to Columbus who recently completed a half marathon with one of the heroes from SideKicks, told me that she has been running with SideKicks since the program started. She loves the program for its inclusiveness and for the exercise and social aspect for sidekicks, heroes and their parents. Blair mentioned that while she enjoys the freedom to go running whenever she can, that is not the case for some special needs individuals and their parents/caregivers. The SideKicks program helps all of its participants to get out, socialize with others and be more active.


We were happy to hear that Celia Watts and Dawn Doup-Pandit, co-founders of the SideKicks Program, were recently recognized by The Arc of Columbus at an awards ceremony on December 1st, along with other program volunteers. This program is a great way to make a difference in the life of someone with special needs and to stay motivated to be active throughout the year.

If you are interested in being a buddy or have a child or adult in your life who would like to participate, please contact Celia Watts (celiaallmanwatts@gmail.com) or Dawn Doup-Pandit (dawn.doup@icloud.com). If you'd like to support the SideKicks Program and go for a run, then consider participating in the WRRC 3 Year Anniversary Race on December 15th at 5pm - the event is FREE and all donations go to SideKicks.

#HealthyCommunities #ColumbusIN #ColumbusIndiana #Running #Walking #specialneeds #SideKicks #LincolnCentralNeighborhoodFamilyCenter #LCNFC #WhiteRiverRunningCompany

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