ST. CHARLES – Before helping create a new segment of the Walk 2 Run program with the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association and Dick Pond Athletics in St. Charles, Phillis Nowicki was concerned about her daughter, Caitlin, getting exercise.
One problem Nowicki saw was there weren’t many exercise options for individuals who are disabled or have special needs, such as Caitlin, who has a disability.
“I started with Walk 2 Run in the spring this year,” Nowicki said. “[Caitlin] likes to be outside, so I was wondering what I could get her involved with.”
Walk 2 Run is a program where participants walk and run in intervals, with the goal of gradually becoming better runners.
Nowicki then began reaching out, focusing on connecting with the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association – which provides a range of recreational activities to those with disabilities – and Glen Kamps at Dick Pond Athletics. That led to a new partnership between the association and Dick Pond. They co-host the Walk 2 Run program for an hour at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and 9:15 a.m. Thursdays in St. Charles.
Marcella Anderson, adult coordinator for the association, said the program is adjusted to the individual, as each has a different need and ability level.
“They have a slow progression for 30 to 45 minutes, and they participate in what they can,” Anderson said.
The goal of the program is to have the groups participate in – and finish – a 5K, either by walking or running the entirety of the race. Personal fitness goals are part of the program as well. Some in the program participated in the Marklund 5K on Oct. 22.
When the program started about two months ago, the Tuesday and Thursday groups were able to enjoy the warmer temperatures outside. But now that the weather is getting colder, the organizers are having some concerns about where the groups will be able to exercise.
“The challenge is finding an indoor location to continue the program,” Anderson said.
Anderson also said the program has been good for not only the participants, but also for their families.
“I think the family members are very pleased with the program,” Anderson said. “I’m very pleased as well. [I have] individuals come back every day excited to tell how far they’ve gone.”
One of the members, David Colby, has participated in the program for five weeks. He said it’s been a great time thanks to the people he’s met.
‘They are good runners [who teach me] how to pace and run faster,” Colby said.
Nowicki and Anderson said they have been grateful for the volunteer help.
“We want to thank the volunteers for all they do,” Nowicki said.
“They have been very integral to the program,” Anderson said.