Annual MEB2 Turkey Trot brings community together, raises awareness about depression and suicide | TheUnion.com

Annual MEB2 Turkey Trot brings community together, raises awareness about depression and suicide

KNOW & GO

What: 14th annual Michael Edward Bratton II Turkey Trot

When: 8:30 a.m., Thursday (Thanksgiving Day)

Where: Hooper Stadium, Nevada Union High School

Cost: $25 for persons 15-and-older, $12 for children 14-and-under

Registration and more info: https://meb2turkeytrot.com

Every year when Mike Bratton addresses a crowd of thousands at Hooper Stadium before the start of the MEB2 Turkey Trot, he is taken aback by the moment and the support he feels from the community.

“Overwhelmed,” he said. “Even after 14 years it’s difficult, because I still miss him so much. Then you look at all these people out there who are listening and supporting. It’s a silent moment, but yet I know when they walk away, we’re all better because we were at the Turkey Trot. Because something good is going to happen.”

Ananda’s Brannon Forrester is the first runner to make it across the finish line in the 5k portion of the Michael Bratton II Turkey Trot Thursday morning at Nevada Union High School.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

The annual Thanksgiving Day Michael Edward Bratton II Turkey Trot is set for its 14th running Nov. 28, and will once again supporting several community programs.

The Turkey Trot is a major fundraiser for the MEB2 Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization funded by local community and business support. The foundation’s primary focus is to support local youth activities, Anew Day, and suicide and depression awareness and prevention in Nevada County.

The MEB2 Foundation was developed in 2006 after Michael Edward Bratton II committed suicide at the age of 25.

“I think all of his friends would tell you that Micheal was the one that was going to succeed. Michael was there to help,” said Mike Bratton of his son Michael Edward Bratton. “The kids he coached absolutely loved and adored him. The coaches he coached with absolutely loved and adored him. He was a friend and he was a mentor … He was a smart young man. He had this smile and demeanor. But, we didn’t understand how bad he was feeling inside, because he covered it up. But, I want people to know he was a sincerely honorable man, would have been a great dad, and we miss him.”

The Turkey Trot has grown from around 600 participants the first year to averaging around 2,000 annually.

“As a family we kind of dug our heels in and said ‘we are going to learn, we’re going to grow, we’re going to come out stronger because of it, but we’re not going to hide behind this tragedy,’” said Jennifer Maier, Michael Edward Bratton’s sister and Turkey Trot race director. “It’s a healing process for the whole community. Not only did our family lose Michael, but the community lost Michael. As a community, as a whole, we have taken a stance against suicide and become a lot more aware of the signs and speaking out about it.”

Since 2006, the event has raised more than $600,000 for its various causes.

“The Turkey Trot let’s people know there is hope, and that you can create something really positive out of something really negative,” said Mike Bratton. “It’s turned into this gathering of people, because they are thankful, and because they understand that depression is a huge issue and suicide is a huge issue. That’s been our mission, to get that word out. We’re trying to get the word out that there is help, that suicide is not the answer. So it’s rewarding for us to know we’re making an impact.”

One of the beneficiaries of the Turkey Trot is Anew Day, a local organization which provides low cost and free counseling for those in need.

“Mental illness is no longer the taboo subject that it used to be,” said Anew Day Executive Director Lori Nunnink-Taylor. “Now, people are talking about it. It’s just like any other disease. When someone has cancer, they get treatment. When someone has other medical problems, they get treatment. Well, when someone has mental illness it’s also disease and they need treatment.

“The Turkey Trot has really helped to dissolve the stereotypes out there and helped people get the treatment they need, and not be ashamed of it. That has really increased our visibility, as well as the services we provide. Financially we couldn’t do it without the Turkey Trot. It helps us keep our doors open. Every year it generates a huge amount of funds for us, which benefit our clients and helps us provide services at a low cost and for free.”

The MEB2 Foundation also supports programs like NEO and the Friendship Club as well as other youth activities and sports programs.

Mike Bratton admits the Turkey Trot is a big undertaking, one his family is heavily involved with, but they also get a lot of support from the community to help make it happen each year.

“After everyone of these events we’re tired because it is mentally and physically draining, but we have 125 volunteers that come out, and over 100 sponsors. So, its the community that keeps us going,” he said.

The Turkey Trot, which offers a 10K run, a 5K run and a 5K walk, is also the final race of the 2019 Gold Country Grand Prix, a trail racing series which traverses Nevada County throughout the year. Timing for the race is handled by Jason Maier.

“We’ve well outgrown the manual timing situation, and we’re into chipping,” said Jennifer Maier. “(Jason) has immersed himself in race timing software, and we could not put this race on without him.”

The Turkey Trot starts at Nevada Union High School’s Hooper Stadium and weaves through the neighboring areas.

There is still time to register for the event. Online registration is available until noon on Nov. 26 and can be completed at https://meb2turkeytrot.com/. Day-of-registration is also available before the race, starting at 7:30 a.m. The 10K run, 5K run and 5K walk all get started at 8:30 p.m. The event will go on rain or shine.

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


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