Tom & Barb Kostohryz: The Motivation Behind the Match
“We envision new businesses springing up in the area to accommodate visitors who would like to spend some time on the trails. We see tourists needing more B&Bs, Airbnbs, restaurants, and a host of other businesses while enjoying their stay here. We think it will be a destination, similar to Hocking Hills, that will bring visitors to the area and help support our local economy.”
Today we shine a spotlight on longtime local philanthropists, Tom and Barb Kostohryz, the backers behind the Baileys’ ongoing $10,000 match donation campaign through the Athens County Foundation. The Kostohryzes aren’t new to supporting healthy living in Southeast Ohio. Though they both grew up in Cleveland, their paths first crossed at a party while they were attending Ohio University. The couple were married in 1974 and bought 24 acres on Peach Ridge Road in Athens, where they raised their three children. After giving several years to school teaching, they moved on to other endeavors—Barb bought into a nursery school and began a part-time art vocation, while Tom embarked on a career in business.
In 2010, Tom co-founded Live Healthy Appalachia, an Athens, Ohio-based nonprofit with a mission to “promote healthy eating and active living through educational opportunities and community partnerships.” These values persist in the couple’s own active lifestyle, as they’re always on the hunt for new outdoor pursuits in hiking, biking, or their latest passion, pickleball. Barb is a longtime avid cyclist, whose accomplishments include riding across the United States, as well as in Africa through the nonprofit, Five Points of Life.
Still, the Kostohryzes recognized a gap in existing recreation opportunities throughout Southeast Ohio. “We have always enjoyed the local bike paths but feel the need for a much greater outdoor recreation area,” they explained when asked what prompted them to support the Baileys Trail System project. “Local people can use the trails to get more exercise and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. Visitors will come here for the same reasons.” The Kostohryzes see the Baileys as a prime opportunity to boost health and wellness for nearby communities, while injecting area businesses with tourism dollars. “We are hoping to get more locals outdoors, getting more exercise to improve their health and help them enjoy the natural beauty of Southeast Ohio. With a new attraction for the region, we are confident that it will bring many more tourists and biking enthusiasts to our area to help our local economy,” they said.
The Athens County Foundation launched the Baileys’ fundraising campaign on October 15th and $3,550 in donations have been raised thus far—just over 1/3 of the total $10,000 the Kostohryzes have pledged to match. The Baileys opened in May 2020 with 14 trail miles and just six months later, Phase 2 is already nearing completion with a total of 26 built miles on the ground. The planned trail system will eventually boast 88 miles of trail—the longest contiguous trail system east of the Mississippi. Donations received through this match campaign will be apportioned to Phase 3 funding. The buzz of excitement surrounding the Baileys is evident in the many comments of support left by backers, from both local patrons and visiting enthusiasts.
Supporter Sean Holt travels 3.5 hours from his home in Cleveland to ride the Baileys and elaborated on his support in an email: “The first time I visited Chauncey, I saw so much potential there for growth around the Baileys Trail System.…a bike shop, a coffee shop, a brewery for post-ride gatherings, and maybe even a shuttle company operating out of the village. It just takes people with an entrepreneurial spirit—with the trail system, you will attract those people.” Holt is no stranger to seeking out mountain bike destinations off the beaten path. Citing Moab, UT, Hood River, OR, and Bentonville, AR, he points out, “These aren’t places that people just pass through. They are completely out of the way yet are all thriving due to ecotourism. The mines and the timber that once supported these towns are gone and they’re not coming back. So, in the true American spirit of innovation, adaptation, and reinvention, these places have transformed into world-class action sports destinations, using only what Mother Nature has provided and without much environmental impact.”
In addition to general wellness benefits associated with access to trails, the Kostohryzes, too, anticipate tangible economic benefits resulting from the Baileys. “We envision new businesses springing up in the area to accommodate visitors who would like to spend time on the trails,” they said. “We see tourists needing more B&Bs, Airbnbs, restaurants, and a host of other businesses while enjoying their stay here. We think it will be a destination, similar to Hocking Hills, that will bring visitors to the area and help support our local economy.”
Holt wholeheartedly agreed, while stressing the importance of continuing to expand the existing trail system. “I travel all over to ride mountain bikes. I love a good road trip, and with a trail system like the Baileys, the more trails, the better,” he explained. “When all 88 miles are open, my buddies and I will spend even more time in the local towns and villages. When there are 88 trails to ride, you don’t just show up for 3 hours and head home. You camp, rent Airbnbs, visit restaurants, and brew pubs—you invest in the local community.”
Thanks to the generosity of Tom and Barb Kostohryz, the Baileys Trail System is accepting match donations through November 23. To see your gift doubled and applied to more trail miles, visit our donation page on the Athens County Foundation website. Follow the Baileys’ many exciting updates on Instagram @baileystrailsystem, Facebook @BaileysTrails, Twitter @baileys_trails, and on our website at www.baileystrailsystem.org.
Written by Jasmine Facun