GRANT HUTCHINGS & SARAH HAAS, Daily Journal
CALEDONIA — A memorial ride and gathering was held a couple weekends ago to honor the life of Brant Sanders, a local teen whose untimely death in a car wreck last year left a void in the Belleview community.
The event, organized by the Brant Sanders Memorial Foundation, served as a celebration of Sanders’ life and a testament to the community’s support during the Sanders family’s time of grief.
Sanders, a 2022 graduate of Valley R-6 High School, was an active member of the community, staying busy with his friends and family, his girlfriend, and his job at Rural King in Farmington. His family members, who run the Brant Sanders Memorial Foundation, say Sanders’ plans were to start his career in a trade as a crane operator, buy a local farm, build a house, and marry his girlfriend.
On the evening of July 19, 2022, five days after his 18th birthday, Sanders’ life was cut short when he was fatally injured in a car wreck in Iron County on County Road 80-A four miles east of Viburnum.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol report, Sanders was driving a 2002 Ford Focus north when the vehicle ran off the left side of the road and hit a tree. He was pronounced dead at 12:14 a.m. at Washington County Memorial Hospital.
Faced with heart-wrenching loss, the Sanders family was confronted with an additional challenge— caring for his sister, Audrey, whose autoimmune disease left her with non functioning kidneys.
Despite the burden, the family found solace in the unwavering support of their community. The outpouring of love and compassion during this difficult time was described by Brant’s mother, Brandy Sanders, as “an overwhelming display of love and support.”
Almost a year after his passing, the Brant Sanders Memorial Foundation held a poker run and fish fry at the Caledonia Village Red Barn on July 15.
The Memorial Foundation welcomed Jeeps, ATVs, trucks, and everyone who could attend, assigning a slogan to the event: “Brant never met a stranger.”
Both strangers and locals showed up to the event, with over 102 vehicles in attendance. Afterward, the community barn filled with people eating and drinking to the memory of the hardworking teen.
An auction was held. There was a lottery tree, along with a 50/50 drawing for many prizes, one of them being a Ruger 308.
The funds raised during the event will be used to help struggling families in the community and to establish the Brant Sanders Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship will be awarded to promising graduates from Valley R-6, supporting their pursuit of careers in agriculture or trades as a tribute to Sanders’ dreams and aspirations.
Overwhelmed by the success of the event and the generosity of their community, members of the Sanders family agreed to make the celebration an annual tradition. The next Brant Sanders Memorial Foundation ride will be held July 13 next year.