Bio: Jay Bailey ran the length of Sarasota County (about 36 miles) to help raise awareness and funds for lung cancer. Jay is a native of Sarasota, Florida and has lived there all 45 years of his life except for his college years. He is married to Christy and they have 3 children: Ashley, 13, Gracie, 10 and Davis, 8. Jay has worked for over 20 years in the fire service and is currently in charge of his department’s wildfire division.
How did you choose how you wanted to fundraise? (i.e., coordinating a Breathe Deep event, running as part of Team LUNGevity, creating your own DIY event, etc)
After the diagnosis of a close friend, I sought a method to contribute in a way that was unique to my personality and my strengths. Pushing my mind and body has always been an escape and a way to center myself, so this seemed to be a natural fit. As an introvert, a DIY felt more appropriate for me over an organized event.
What are your goals? (Fundraising, raising awareness, finish under a certain time, building a community, etc.)
Admittedly, a part of the concept for this project was derived from selfish reasons. I have long sought to better connect with my community and to better understand the humans I blindly interact with each day. I wanted to traverse neighborhoods I hadn’t visited out of fear or just complacency. But I also wanted to reconnect with areas of my community I held close. It was my intent from the beginning to use this as an instrument to bring awareness and hopefully raise some money for such an important cause.
What impact do you hope your fundraising efforts will make?
During the physical part of this, I achieved my goal of completing the distance I sought. More importantly, I was successful in connecting with sections of my community. I could smell food as parents prepared breakfast for their children and the fresh aroma of them doing laundry. I watched as they worked in their yards or left their homes for church. I saw people arrive early at their businesses so they could prepare for their day.
In preparation for this, I found unexpected curiosity and interest in hearing stories of friends and strangers who have been impacted by lung cancer. I had no idea there were so many. So, the impact I hope this made is that while raising money is critical, sharing stories and experiences is equally important.
What gives you hope?
From the conception of this project until my final step, I have been astonished at the willingness of strangers and friends to share their stories with a guy doing a run. I’ve been inspired by their generosity and empathy toward this cause. Some, who have had very little to spare, somehow found enough to give. So, it gives me hope that people find it important enough to sacrifice money from their family’s wallet during what could be tough economic times to give to LUNGevity.
LUNGevity Spotlight is a way to highlight people living with lung cancer, caregivers, volunteers, and fundraisers who are making a positive impact in the LUNGevity community. We hope that their stories will inspire and encourage many more to get involved.
If you know someone in the LUNGevity community whom you'd like us to Spotlight, please nominate them here.