COMMUNITY: After 12 years, Michael Bratton II Turkey Trot continues to inspire, inform and bring community together | TheUnion.com

COMMUNITY: After 12 years, Michael Bratton II Turkey Trot continues to inspire, inform and bring community together

It's a time to be thankful, a time for awareness and a time to trot.

For the past 12 years, rain or shine, the Michael Edward Bratton II Turkey Trot 5K/10K has brought thousands of people together on Thanksgiving morning for a jaunt through the woods near Nevada Union High School, to honor a beloved community member gone far too soon and to raise funds for several local causes.

This year will be no different as the annual event is set for its 13th running Thursday morning at Nevada Union.

"I just want to thank the community for the support over all these years," said Mike Bratton, whose family started the event in 2006 after Michael Bratton II took his life at the age of 25. "It means so much to our family, and it means a lot to so many others who are watching and learning about depression and suicide."

The Turkey Trot has raised around $380,000 through its first 12 years, all of which is put back into the community. The funds are dispersed among several causes including Anew Day, NEO, the Friendship Club, Nevada Union Athletics programs and various church groups and organizations.

Of the $64,000 that was raised and dispensed last year, $35,000 went to Anew Day, which is a faith-based organization that provides healing and hope through counseling for those who are hurting.

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"Our partnership (with the Turkey Trot) is a natural one," Anew Day Executive Director Lori Nunnink said. "The Turkey Trot does three things. First of all, it honors Michael (Bratton II), his legacy and what he meant to our community. It's also about increasing suicide awareness and awareness regarding depression and the results of that. And, it really focuses on de-stigmatizing mental illness, and that's what our goal is at Anew Day."

While the length of the race can be measured in kilometers and the funds raised can be totaled in dollars and cents, the lives that have been touched by the annual event are countless.

"For the few minutes I get to say a few things at the Turkey Trot, and there's roughly 3,000 people there, I get to talk about depression awareness and that suicide is not the right answer, and how there's help," said Bratton. "We want people to know more about depression and what it looks like and how you can help someone. Depression is not something to be ashamed about. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed about."

Nunnink said the funds received from the Turkey Trot go directly toward maintaining Anew Day services such as lay and professional counseling. The Turkey Trot also goes along way in informing the public about options that are available for those who may be suffering with depression or mental illness.

"It's extremely important," Nunnink said of the Turkey Trot. "It's events like this that help increase awareness and de-stigmatize mental illness, depression and suicide. And, it really shows that no one is immune to the effects of depression, mental illness and suicide.

As they do every year, Anew Day will have a booth at the Michael Bratton II Turkey Trot, offering information about their services and mission.

While the community benefits greatly, on many levels, from the Turkey Trot, and the Bratton family takes great pride in their efforts, it's also a way for the Brattons to honor their son Michael Bratton II.

"It's still a way to honor Michael. That's always first in our minds," Bratton said. "It's also a way for our family and for people in the community who knew him really well to continue the grieving process. Something like this never goes away, but something like (the Turkey Trot) helps with it. But then you think about all the people it's helping and all the people who are getting information about depression awareness and suicide prevention and we do it for that. We do it because we know we're able to help fund Anew Day a substantial amount of money."

The event offers several avenues to participate, featuring a 5K, 10K, a 5K walk and a Kids Run. It also serves as the final event on the Gold Country Grand Prix's 10-race circuit.

Bratton said he's expecting more than 3,000 participants this year, and expressed gratitude for the more than 150 volunteers and nearly 100 sponsors who help make the event possible.

"It's a Turkey Trot, it's a Thanksgiving morning to be thankful for what we do have," said Bratton. "It reminds all of us how much we have to be thankful for."

Registration for the event is still available online at meb2turkeytrot.com. There will also be in-person registration as well as early check-in for those already registered at noon Wednesday at Nevada Union's Wrestling Gym. In-person registration is also available starting at 7:30 a.m. the morning of the event. The Kids Race takes off at 8:15 a.m. and 5K/10K runners and walkers will start down the course at 8:30 a.m. For more information about the event visit meb2turkeytrot.com.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

KNOW & GO

What: 13th annual Michael Edward Bratton II Turkey Trot 5K/10K

When: Kids Race starts at 8:15 a.m., 5K/10K starts at 8:30 p.m., Thursday

Where: Hooper Stadium at Nevada Union High School, 11645 Ridge Rd, Grass Valley

Registration: Is open online through today. In-person registration and early check-in for those already registered is available at noon Wednesday at Nevada Union’s Wrestling Gym. In-person registration is also open at 7:30 a.m. the day of the event.

Website: https://meb2turkeytrot.com

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