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After loss, parents turned grief into foundation for sick kids

Time:2017-01-18 11:51Shoes websites Click:

mitchell thorp brad thorp beth thorp charities for sick children help with medical bills

Carlsbad residents Brad and Beth Thorp started the Mitchell Thorp Foundation in honor of their son Mitchell, who passed away in 2008.

Carlsbad residents Brad and Beth Thorp started the Mitchell Thorp Foundation in honor of their son Mitchell, who passed away in 2008.

Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune

Carlsbad residents Brad and Beth Thorp started the Mitchell Thorp Foundation in honor of their son Mitchell, who passed away in 2008. The foundation helps families pay for non-insured medical costs and other needs.

Carlsbad residents Brad and Beth Thorp started the Mitchell Thorp Foundation in honor of their son Mitchell, who passed away in 2008. The foundation helps families pay for non-insured medical costs and other needs. (Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Pam Kragen

Pam KragenContact Reporter

In 2008, Brad and Beth Thorp buried their 18-year-old son, Mitchell, after an excruciating five-year medical odyssey that maxed out their insurance, emptied their bank account and led them to specialists all over the country.

But during those black-cloud years, the Carlsbad couple said there was a silver lining. Friends and strangers organized a 2006 walk-athon that raised $70,000 the family used to pay down medical bills. It was a gift the Thorps never forgot. Just nine months after they lost their son, the couple launched the Mitchell Thorp Foundation, which each year provides more than $250,000 in support and counseling to the parents of children with life-threatening illnesses. 

“I think God was speaking to us,” Beth said of starting the foundation. “We were in such shock and pain and heartache. This was him telling us this is not the end. We’ll get through this and what was evil we will turn to good. He knows who we’re helping.”

Among those helped in the past year are Cameron and Audrey Molifua of Oceanside. Their 6-year-old daughter, Anuhea, was diagnosed in June 2015 with acute lymphocytic leukemia and still has another year of daily oral chemotherapy before her treatment’s complete. Last summer, the foundation helped the family with groceries and nutritional supplements, as well as gas cards to cover the sometimes-daily drives to Rady Children’s Hospital. The foundation’s youth leadership council (a group of teen volunteers) also adopted the family for Christmas, delivering baskets of gifts and toys for the children.  

Audrey Molifua said the financial support has been wonderful, but it’s the warmth and caring showed by the Thorps that has been the true blessing.  

“They’re really down to earth and easy to talk to. Beth is so kind-hearted. Every time I talk to her she’s never just about the cancer child. She’s about the whole family,” Molifua said. “When you need help, a lot of foundations can be intimidating to work with, but the Thorps are right there always asking ‘what can we do?’” 

Brad Thorp, who sells fitness equipment to health clubs, said the compassion he and his wife have for other parents comes from their own painful experience.

“We walked in their shoes, we knew what they were up against and how hard a battle they faced,” he said. 

In February 2004, Mitchell was an energetic seventh-grader at Aviara Oaks Middle School with a 4.0 GPA and a serious talent for baseball (his dad pitched for three seasons on the Dodgers’ minor league team before blowing out his shoulder). What started as headaches evolved into severe and chronic pain, uncontrollable seizures, loss of muscle control and the ability to walk or feed himself. When he died in a Houston hospital on Nov. 19, 2008, doctors still hadn’t traced the cause of his undiagnosed illness.

The following year, two 16-year-olds who played in the same baseball league as Mitchell were diagnosed with cancer. Brad, who serves as the foundation’s chairman, said it was the wake-up call they needed to redirect their energy in a productive way. 

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