“A friend loves at all times” Psalm 17:17
Starting Sidekix is a dream come true for Hunter Peebles! From the time her daughter, Caramy, was in preschool, there was a need for a program like this but the time spent running Hunter’s Dance Studio and taking care of Caramy’s medical issues and developmental delays with “Kabuki Syndrome” prevented Hunter from being able to do anything else at the time.
In June of 2018, a mom posted about how her daughter had been teased because of her special needs. She also posted how hard it was for her daughter when her sister had friends over or was invited to go do fun things without her. Hunter commented by telling this mom that Caramy would be glad to come spend time with her daughter. Caramy knew her daughter from years ago when she took a dance class. The mom responded with “Please tell Caramy, she needs a friend!” That one line was the motivation!
From there, Hunter called Taran Dunn, whose son was recently diagnosed with Autism, because she has such a knack for coming up with good ideas for advertising. Taran called Peg Bonnabeau Hemingway, her mom who is the Director of Sales at MSpark, to see if she could come up with a good name. Peg quickly came up with “Sidekix” and together they found a logo. By the end of the day, Taran had a post on Facebook with the Sidekix logo and mission statement!
The next day, Brenda Whaley, who has a son with Cerebral Palsy, met with Taran and Hunter to talk about ideas for this group. They talked about the things that these children need to make their lives better. Brenda explained how hard it is for a sibling of a special needs child too. Brenda said her daughter was going to Vacation Bible School that morning and did not understand why her brother couldn’t go with her! By the end of that meeting, plans had been made for 5 Summer Events! And long term goals were listed on paper.
The process of putting Sidekix together was like a puzzle with each person providing a significant piece! The last piece was Hunter’s daughter in law, Elizabeth Kennedy Peebles, who has a degree in Special Education from ECU. When Hunter asked Elizabeth to come to work at Hunter’s Dance last year, she promised Elizabeth would be able to use her degree but in a different way! Elizabeth is wonderful as an assistant in dance classes with the students who have special needs or disabilities! But she has always wanted to do more! Elizabeth had the opportunity in high school to work with a person who has put a “Special Friends” Sunday School Class and Camp together at a church in Wake Forest and it has just blossomed over the years! After ECU, Elizabeth worked at the Hill Center matching 80 tutors with the right children with special needs or learning differences. She will use the same process to match the Sidekix kids with Sidekix friends!
Sidekix has 3 goals
- To provide a fun and safe environment with “Sidekix” Mix events where children with special needs can mix with typically developing children and do activities that are fun for everyone and then to match a child with special needs with 2-3 typically developing “friends” to do other activities outside of the Mix events
- To provide Sidekix SAS! (Socials and Support) and educational seminars for parents, guardians, and caregivers of these children along with the same of typically developing children
- To do an annual fundraiser with the Wilson community to raise awareness about “Sidekix” and to raise enough funds to eventually provide all of these events at no charge!