Traditional trot |

Traditional trot

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

For me, the perfect Thanksgiving morning would include a hardy breakfast followed by family, friends and myself lacing ’ em up and playing some good ol’ backyard football.

The smell of the grass, the crisp morning air, the good-natured jawing and laying out grandma as she tries to run a slant pattern across my zone. There are no defenseless receiver penalties in my family.

But this year, that wasn’t the case. This Thanksgiving, I woke up, had an apple and an orange, drank a big glass of water and headed to something that carried more purpose than getting in a cheap shot on a beloved relative.

I ran in the seventh annual Michael Bratton II Turkey Trot along with about 1,800 others. It was my first time running the event, and if you have read my previous columns, you know I detest running, but for this cause and for the Bratton family, I gladly strapped on my running shoes and took to trotting.

In its seventh year, the Turkey Trot is as strong as ever, and the message is still as powerful as ever.

As Michael Bratton Sr. addressed the masses, talking of his son who took his own life in 2006, my heart sank. The loss of a child seems so unbearable, I quiver just thinking about it.

But what the entire Bratton family has done has allowed hope and positivity to sprout from its loss.

The Turkey Trot has captured the attention of this community, and has helped to prevent and combat depression. The Turkey Trot is completely nonprofit, sending funds raised from the event to Nevada Union programs as well as Anew Day, a counseling service for individuals and groups.

This is one of the many reasons I love sports and, even more so, community sports.

Name another event in town that could draw nearly 2,000 people at 7:30 a.m. that involves running. Outside of the Barbara Schmidt Millar Triathlon, I can’t.

The Turkey Trot has become a tradition in this area — a tradition that is growing, allowing the Brattons’ tragedy to become a beacon of hope for so many others. And as the Turkey Trot continues to grow, the message sent gets louder and louder, and the memory of Michael Bratton II will last longer and longer.

During the winter months many experience the extreme emotional highs and lows that accompany life during the holiday season, and if you find yourself mired in the lows, please don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek help. There are several places locally to get help if needed. There is the Nevada County Crisis Line, (530) 265-5811, available 24 hours a day everyday, and of course Anew Day, which can be reached at (530) 271-1100.

So this Thanksgiving that I am spending at my desk at The Union, I am thankful for the Turkey Trot and all the good it does and I’m thankful to be part of such a strong, supportive and athletics-inspired community. And next year when the Turkey Trot rolls around, I will definitely … volunteer. Like I said, great cause, but I truly loathe running.

To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at

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