5K to benefit Big Brothers program

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A program that matches at-risk kids with adult mentors is hoping that this weekend's 5K fun run will help fund the youth development center.

Members of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Carolina Youth Development Center, including Scott Szczepaniak and Malachi Higgins, will benefit from this weekend's Run or Dye 5K Fun Run.

Szczepaniak has a special bond with Higgins, and it's not just football. Szczepaniak says he's the one who scored when he signed up to become a Big Brother through the Carolina Youth Development Center.

"I felt like I never gave back to Boy Scouts. It was an important part of my growing up, so I checked out Big Brothers Big Sisters," he said. "I didn't know too much about it, and have been lucky to be connected to Malachi, my little brother, for five or so years."

Higgins agrees.

"I pretty much look up to him as a big brother, like the program says," he said.

For at least an hour every week, sometimes more, Szczepaniak and Higgins spend quality time together doing anything from sports to homework to summer vacations. Their guy time is meaningful.

"He teaches you a few lessons, and then it's not about the lessons. You get to have fun, too," Higgins said.

Coordinators of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program say funding is crucial to continue their progress of helping kids who need someone to look up to.

"It's a means to the end of providing additional guidance, positive support, role model type behavior for kids who are exposed to all types of harmful messages in their daily lives whether it's in their neighborhood or in their schools," said partnership coordinator Louis Kines.

{}For Higgins and Szczepaniak, the program is priceless.

"Seeing the wonder and the joy of learning these new things that he might not have had the opportunity to experience, that's really just incredibly rewarding for me," Szczepaniak said.

Fifty dollars will be donated for every volunteer who comes out on race day, all they have to give is their time.

The Run or Dye 5K starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Exchange Park in Ladson.

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