Big sister seeks good from family tragedy

By David Schriemer

Siblings Bradley Jacob Dow and Meagan Stiver in 2018.

Meagan Stiver graduated from Vicksburg High School in 2007. Her brother, Bradley Jacob Dow, 8 years younger than Meagan, was her “shadow”. He adored her and she was like a second mother. Bradley played trombone in the Big Red Machine and graduated in 2015. Bradley took a few college classes and worked a variety of jobs after graduation. Meagan thought he was a “typical goofy guy.”

Meagan, now married (Joe) and with a 1-year-old daughter, was stunned the evening of December 10, 2019 when she received a call from her parents to come over immediately. She didn’t know what was going on but could hear their desperation. She called her mother-in-law to watch their 1-year-old and raced to her parents’ house in Scotts. The police and their pastor were there. Bradley had committed suicide in his own apartment. He was 22 years old.

The family was devastated. It made no sense. He had not shared his distress with anyone. Meagan recalls blocking out emotion and dutifully calling extended family and helping make arrangements. Her “shadow” was gone.

About a month later and after a lot of thought, she decided she had to do something to bring some good out of the tragedy. Mulling over possibilities with friends, she decided to start a nonprofit foundation in Bradley’s honor. While working at Arbor Financial and taking courses to earn her MBA, she started the project. By September 2020, nine months after her brother’s death, the Bradley Jacob Dow Foundation was granted official 501c3 status as a nonprofit by the IRS. Its purpose: “We strive to end the stigma associated with mental health issues in the male demographic. We aim to provide counseling services to help male victims of domestic violence and mental abuse find a better tomorrow.”

Planning events amid the pandemic with few resources has been difficult. Even so, a Holiday Family Fun Night fundraiser was held in December 2021 with the VHS Jazz Band providing music, and a Mental Health Fair was held at the Vicksburg Pavilion in 2022. The Foundation is networking with other national and regional organizations and events such as Stamp Out The Stigma Walk, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Be Nice program of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. The Bradley Jacob Dow Foundation wants to make a difference here, in the Vicksburg area. Meagan is hoping to network with other like-minded people in our small part of the world.

Meagan views these efforts as part of her grieving. “It gave me a way to hone in on something tangible. I want to extend Bradley’s legacy. To bring something good out of it.”

She has accomplished a lot already.

To contact Meagan Stiver or learn more visit

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