Roughly 300 people laced up their sneakers on Sept. 29 to pay tribute to Kate Bratcher, a longtime Tullahoma teacher who refused to let breast cancer keep her from the sport she loved.
After breast cancer claimed Bratcher’s life in 2009 – just a day after her 49th birthday – her friends and family members came together and decided to work through their grief by doing some good in her honor.
And so, the Kate Walk was born.
Bratcher was a teacher in the Tullahoma school system for more than 25 years. Throughout her career, she also coached many youth sports and touched the lives of many children. Bratcher loved physical activity, and ran 3 miles every day.
She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. Through treatment her cancer was pushed into remission in 2001 and again in 2003.
Even while going through treatment, Bratcher was determined to stay active. She still completed her 3 miles a day, walking instead of running when she need to, according to her children, Diane Murray and Jimmy Bratcher. While her run with cancer was long, she never allowed it to take her fight or her spirit.
The first Kate Walk took place in October 2009, shortly after her death, drawing 25 friends and family members. Since then, the walk has grown in popularity every year. In 2010, approximately 75 people walked. By 2011, about 200 people walked, and by 2012 over 225 people took part. The trend continued to grow and in 2015 the walk saw the most participants since 2009, with approximately 380 people.
This year marked the ninth annual Kate Walk, and over the years the walk has raised over $50,000 that has been donated to various charities and nonprofit organizations. The walk is free to participants and all money raised comes from T-shirt sales and donations. Most people who walk have been touched personally by breast cancer, some are currently fighting the disease, others are survivors and some have watched love ones battle the diagnosis.
Last February JoAnn Posey, a Bratcher family friend and physical education teacher at Robert E. Lee Elementary School also died of breast cancer. Murray said Posey’s death only reinforced the Kate Walk team’s determination to put the money the event raises back into the local community.
This year’s Kate Walk raised approximately $6,500. The Bratcher family decided to donate that money to the Tullahoma Sports Council to honor the love for physical activity and sports that Posey and Bratcher both possessed.
According to its website, the purpose of the Tullahoma Sports Council is to define Tullahoma and the surrounding area as a premier sports/recreation destination by creating new events, capturing new sports business and cultivating the growth of sustainable annual sporting and recreation events. The council strives to increase fitness and wellness of the citizens of Tullahoma at all age levels.
“The Kate Walk is an opportunity to participate in physical activity with friends and family that allows people to honor and remember those that they care about or those who have fought or are fighting for their lives,” said Jimmy Bratcher. “It means so much to me that I get to interact with the community and I’m recognized as Kate’s son. Citizens ask me when the Kate Walk is and how much they can’t wait to bring their families to participate.”
For more information on the Kate Walk 5K, visit the event’s Facebook page at Kate Walk. For more information on the Tullahoma Sports Council, upcoming sporting events and 5Ks, visit at www.tullahomasports.org.
Faith Few can be reached by email at email@example.com.