Racing for change: Break the Chain racers call attention to social causes

April, 2011 Posted in Community, People

By Mary OwenKailia Walter races for Break the Chain Apparel, the Stayton t-shirt company with a cause.

When Kailia Walter was a toddler, doctors diagnosed her with ulcerative colitis, a disease, they said, would rob her from leading a normal life.

“I was told that I would never be able to play sports and I would not do well in school,” Walter said. “With God and some amazing doctors, I have been able to prove that wrong.”

Today, Walter, 17, is a straight-A student, the junior class president at West Salem High School, participates in a business management class that led to an internship at a local credit union, and races a lime green and black Spec Miata, sponsored by Break the Chain Apparel.

The Stayton-based company, owned by Tammi Burns of Lyons, sells Clothing With A Voice, a line of T-shirts and other products that inspire social changes and helps fund social programs that work to eradicate abuse and illiteracy.

The company is now in the process of getting non-profit status, replacing Project Chain Reaction, which raises awareness through art in local schools, with Clothing With A Voice, Burns said.

“By combining our efforts we can begin to help others that are in the trenches,” Burns said. “This will raise Break the Chain to the next level.”

Her company is getting ready to do another Fill the Trailer project to help the Canyon Crisis Center in Mill City and St. Joseph’s Shelter in Mount Angel as well as sponsoring auto racing.

“Our racers all race to break the chain,” Burns said. “We are proud to be Kailia’s sponsor. We use all mediums to reach as many people as we can to get the message out about social issues. Motorsports is one more terrific medium.”

In 2007, Walter began racing high performance go carts. Last year, she raced for a team out of Seattle called Seattle Karting Specialties before transitioning from karts to cars.

“I absolutely loved the change,” she said. “I always had the thought of cars in the back of my head while I was racing karts, but was never sure what route I wanted to go.”

Her home track this year is Portland International Raceway, a 1.9-mile course with 12 turns.

Jim Burns with Break the Chain is crew chief and mechanic for Walter’s W Racing.

“I don’t do a lot of work on my own car, but whenever I can, I love to get my hands dirty under the hood,” said Walter, who balances practice time with studying to maintain her perfect grade-point average. “I want to go to college for mechanical engineering and business. More importantly, I want to race for as long as I can.”

Bry Taylor is another Break the Chain racer who Burns calls “an amazing woman that holds her own at the track.”

“She is also on board with our message,” Burns added.

Taylor owns a hair salon in Dallas called Hot Rod Hair. Married to fellow racer John Campos and “mom” to two dogs, Taylor was introduced by a friend to dirt track racing at Willamette Speedway a few years ago. Today, she is the only woman to race in the Classic Sportsman class at the Lebanon track.

“John’s car number is 36, his father’s number when he raced many years ago,” she said. “When I chose my number, I wanted 36 in it. I chose 316, which also stands for John 3:16 from the Bible.

“It’s an honor to be a driver for Break the Chain,” Taylor added. “My car is purple, and matches the ‘make a stand against the angry hand’ logo.”

Burns said she is proud to be “racing to break the chain,” so much so that the company is also putting together a Monster truck.

The display truck should be ready this summer, just in time for the Sublimity Harvest Festival, she added.

“This is really exciting!” she said. “We will be crushing domestic violence, illiteracy, bullying and the like with this monster!”

Break the Chain is seeking other sponsors that share its vision to be on the body of the truck.

A bed racer or bed frame with tires and a hand brake will add to Break the Chain’s fleet at SummerFest’s bed races, Burns said.

“We will be defending our title,” she said. “It’s not fancy, but our team knows what to do to win.”

No matter what type of racing, Break the Chain’s drivers do what they do to speak out against issues that plague society today, Burns said.

“We want to show that these tough drivers not only are dedicated to their individual sports, but also to a message that will change lives,” she said. “If we can reach more people by racing to Break the Chain, and build a following that isn’t afraid to speak out, then we have accomplished one of our many goals.”

To be a sponsor on the Monster or for information on any of the racing projects, contact Burns at 503-508-7987.

For information on Clothing with a Voice or any of the Break the Chain projects, visit

  1. One Response to “Racing for change: Break the Chain racers call attention to social causes”

  2. By Tami Walter on Apr 1, 2011

    Great article, we love what you guys are doing at Break the Chain and appreciate both of you a lot. Thanks for all you do! 🙂

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