Alum runs for scholarships

Sean C. Morgan

A Vancouver, Wash., man is running 117 miles to help Sweet Home students attend college.

Jay Kitchin, a 1966 graduate of Sweet Home High School, is trying to raise at least $10,000 for the Sweet Home Alumni Foundation, which provides scholarships to Sweet Home students. He won’t do it all at once, but he plans to go the distance.

“What I’m doing is picking and choosing different areas,” Kitchin said by phone from Vancouver. “From here across the 205 bridge.”

After that he’ll run to Tigard, then down old Highway 99 and into Albany at some point, he said. The distance from his home to Sweet Home is approximately 117 miles. By the time he finishes running different segments over time, he’ll cover the entire route.

He is planning to run from Lebanon to Sweet Home on July 14 during Sportsman’s Holiday, the day of the All-School Reunion, arriving just before the Sportsman’s Holiday Run at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Kitchin has already run 26 miles, he said.

“The ultimate goal is to make money for the scholarship fund,” he said. “What I would really like is if I could be left out of this. I don’t want this to be about Jay. I want this to be about getting money for students in Sweet Home.”

Although his family didn’t have much money, two uncles helped establish the Sweet Home Alumni Foundation, he said. He wanted to contribute too, and running to raise funds seemed like a good way for him to do it.

“Not everybody who’s 64 wants to run,” Kitchin said, but he enjoys it. “I’m not fast. It’s one step in front of the other.”

He had been looking at the foundation’s Facebook page and noticed it had 4,400 members. He started thinking about how much money would be raised if all of them donated just $2.

“I look at the poverty level down there now,” Kitchin said. “Education is a way out of the situation they’re in now.”

To make his point, he recalled attending the Centralia Community College graduation this year. Two students spoke, and both mentioned that if it hadn’t been for scholarships, they wouldn’t have been able to attend the college. They were the first college graduates in their families.

“I’ve stayed involved with Sweet Home and care very deeply what happens there,” Kitchin said. “Who knows what potential could be unlocked to let these kids go on and be whom they’re really meant to be.”

Others agree, and Kitchin has already raised about $1,000 from people who have never stepped foot in Sweet Home, some pledging $1 per mile, he said. They’re on board because they believe in education. He has e-mails from more people committing to donate.

Beyond individual donations, Kitchin would like to see corporate sponsors match some of the funds, he said. Mainly, he really wants to draw awareness to the scholarship fund.

This is a perfect opportunity to do it, a “perfect storm,” he said. The school is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and more people than usual will be in Sweet Home to attend the reunion.

Kitchin retired from a glass manufacturer as a maintenance manager. He worked in industrial maintenance for 35 years. He has been married to his wife, Sue, for 42 years. They have two children, Amy and her husband, Chris, of Bellingham, Wash., and Sean and his wife, Michelle, of Pocatello, Idaho. They have four grandchildren.

For more information, contact Kitchin at (360) 607-2519. Donations may be mailed directly to the Sweet Home Alumni Foundation at PO Box 83, Sweet Home, OR 97386. Kitchin may also be contacted through