Washington state

Lewis County family reaches Astoria in 500-mile walk for education

Some people are willing to go the extra mile for a cause. The Bailey family is doing that and an extra 499.

Brennan Bailey; his wife, Ashley; and his parents are walking from Orick, California, to Chehalis to raise money for the college educations of local children.

“The wife and I are avid walkers, and we always joked about walking to California,” Brennan said from Astoria, Oregon.

Then things turned serious, and the joke turned into a serious plan. Brennan’s parents, Tonya and Chris, (who is also president of Lower Columbia College), decided to get on board. The plan was to originally start in Redding, California, but they had to start farther away in order to make it a true 500 miles to Chehalis.

Awesome RV donated a recreational vehicle for the team to sleep and eat in while they make their trek. Brennan, Ashley and Chris all walk while Tonya follows them in the vehicle.

As of Monday afternoon the group had raised $3,675 on Gofundme.com, a website popularly used to raise money for various causes and events, but Brennan said they’ve had about another $500 pledged on top of that by people they’ve come across.

The group members plan to use their portion of the funds to benefit different students. Chris will give his money to the Lower Columbia Student Services Fund, which gives small loans to students who are at risk of dropping out. Ashley will give her earnings to a female W.F. West graduate who plans on studying science, engineering, technology or mathematics. Brennan, who is on the Chehalis School Board, plans to use his portion of the donations to fund part of the college education of a fifth-grade student at Olympic Elementary School, likely through the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition program.

“I think it’s important to get them planning at that age,” he said.

The Baileys started their journey on June 27 and plan to finish at Awesome RV in Chehalis this Saturday.

Education has become a major focus in recent years in Brennan’s life. For several years he had his own real estate business but later sold it go to college and become a teacher. He'll become a second-grade teacher in Longview this fall.