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Bailey family walks 500 miles to raise money for student scholarships

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Bailey family

Clockwise from left, Chris Bailey, son Brennan, daughter-in-law Ashley, wife Tonya stop along the Oregon coast for a break on their 500-mile journey back to Chehalis.

Education never hurt so good.

On Saturday in Chehalis, Lower Columbia College President Chris Bailey and his son and daughter in law, Brennan and Ashley Bailey, will finish a 500-mile walk that started June 25 in Orick, on the Northern California coast. They walked to raise $5,000 for local student scholarships, a campaign they organized themselves. By Friday, the Baileys had raised $4,595 through the crowd-sourcing site GoFundMe.

“The first three days were agonizing,” said Brennan Bailey, 25, who is vice president of the Chehalis School Board. “Blisters everywhere. You kind of get used to it. The blisters became callouses. It’s mental more than anything.”

Bailey said he walked about 21 miles Friday. The family traced its journey on Facebook and Instagram, stopping along the way to meet with friends and enjoy the scenery. Chris Bailey’s wife, Tonya Bailey, drove alongside the group with an RV (donated by Awesome RV in Chehalis), which the family also slept in.

Brennan Bailey will donate a third of the money they are raising to a college fund for a fifth grader at Olympic Elementary School in Chehalis. His wife, Ashley Bailey, 22, will donate her third to a graduating female senior at W.F. West High School in Chehalis who is going into the science, math and technology fields. Chris Bailey, 55, will donate his share to LCC’s Student Success Fund to assist financially-strapped students.

Brennan Bailey said he valued education more after joining the Chehalis School Board in 2011. After running a Chehalis real estate company for four years, he sold the business and earned a bachelor’s degree in education through Salt Lake City-based Western Governors University. He is now pursuing his master’s in education at Concordia University in Portland and will be a second-grade teacher at Kessler Elementary School in Longview this fall.

“Recently, I’ve come to really value education. I joined the school board first, and that’s what really inspired me,” he said, adding that his wife’s entrance into Pacific University this fall to study optometry inspired him, too. “I saw where it was taking her. I wanted to inspire young ones to go (to college).”

He said he was impressed with how supportive the community has been of the group’s cause.

“It was a pie-in-the-sky (idea) at first because we thought we’d never reach” the goal, Brennan Bailey said. “But we’re already there.”

He said he wants to raise more money for education, through he hopes to avoid more blisters.

“I’m not necessarily sure this is the way I’d do it next time,” he said with a laugh.

People can donate to the cause until next Saturday at http://www.gofundme.com/500milewalk.

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