Local woman authors book on overcoming family tragedy
Beth and Brad Thorp lost their son to an undiagnosed illness, then created a successful nonprofit in his name
It’s often said you can’t judge a book by the cover.
With Carlsbad resident Beth Thorp’s book, “ANEW Creation”, the cover is a good start.
Beneath the title is the image of a boy in a baseball uniform swinging a bat from a left-handed stance. His arms and the bat in his grip are fully extended as if about to make impact with a pitched ball.
It’s the kind of swing that could lead baseball sages to say, “He’s a natural.”
The portrait is of the author’s son, Mitchell Thorp, as he was in the act of hitting a home run.
At the age of 13, Mitchell was starting to emerge as an athlete and promising ballplayer.
Then his health unexpectedly began to deteriorate while he experienced escalating pain and dysfunction from a mysterious ailment.
Despite his parents’ desperate efforts to have his illness diagnosed and treated, there were no answers.
Mitchell died in 2008 at the age of 18 at a Texas hospital where his parents had taken him in hopes of a life-saving treatment.
As indicated by the book’s subtitle, “Finding Meaning in the Midst of Tragedy,” Beth Thorp recounts the family’s experiences raising Mitchell and their younger son Matthew; caring for Mitchell as he steadily grew worse; and going through the trauma of his death.
“ANEW Creation” is also about the power of faith and how it led to the creation of a foundation in Mitchell’s name that has proven highly successful in assisting children with devastating illnesses and their families.
The author writes that her 327-page volume published by Morgan James “is the true story of how the Thorps, despite being faced with many faith-testing trials, ultimately found hope, joy and purpose by creating the Mitchell Thorp Foundation to bring the light of hope to other children and families fighting for their tomorrows.
“The Thorps believe that God and Mitchell spoke to their spirits and profoundly showed them signs along the way to keep living and finding purpose in Mitchell’s death.”
The e-book was released Feb. 28. Morgan James, a major New York-based publishing house, is scheduled to have print copies in bookstores in June, Thorp said. Proceeds from sales will go to the foundation.
Information on the book and how to purchase it can be found at anewcreation.org, while information on the foundation is at mitchellthorp.org.
Beth Thorp said in a recent interview that “ANEW Creation” has been 13 years in the making since Mitchell’s death. Yet, it wasn’t until the pandemic shutdown that she got serious about putting together enough material to form a book.
For an author’s work to be accepted upon its first submission to a publisher is a rarity, and one of many blessings that, Thorp said, she and her family have experienced through the grace of God.
“It’s a miracle in itself,” she said. “The first submission to them, they accepted my book proposal and felt that this story was worthy to be told to the world, because they have worldwide distribution.
“So, that was quite an honor. ... That just tells me that God wanted this story to be out there.”
Thorp said it took her 15 months to write and was crafted with great assistance from her editor, award-winning author Ginger Kolbaba.
The book and its title were inspired in part from an epiphany involving the walking stick Mitchell had used on hikes in Sedona and which was passed on to Matthew.
The narrative contains many passages from biblical scriptures.
“It is a faith-based book,” Beth Thorp said. “It does take people on a journey with us. It is written as a beautiful story from the beginning. It also talked about Mitchell’s love of baseball and his father, who played with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
“Baseball kind of runs through the beginning of the book, and (it talks of) Mitchell’s character, who he was as a person and how he impacted others, until (readers) get to the middle of the book and something’s not right.”
Brad Thorp was a right-handed pitcher progressing through the minor leagues with the Dodgers when he incurred a career-ending injury while in the minor leagues.
He was a teammate of several players who would eventually graduate to the Major League club, including left-handed hurler, the legendary Fernando Valenzuela.
At one time, her husband roomed with Valenzuela, Beth said. Among many photos in the book, there is one of the father and two sons with Valenzuela at Dodgers Stadium when Mitchell was 13.
Another photo is of Mitchell when he was 5 and Matthew, posing with San Diego Padres star, the late Tony Gwynn Sr., who was celebrated for his left-handed swing.
Many other photos in the years show Mitchell during his decline, which started when he was 13. Over the ensuing years, the boy lost his ability to speak as well as walk.
“I long so much to hear his voice again,” Beth said. “He understood what we were saying but the pain must have constricted him so he couldn’t speak. He was trying desperately to communicate because he knew what pain we were in.”
Later, the chapters tell the story of the foundation and its successes. She said one day in 2009, Brad came home from a service at North Coast Calvary Chapel and said he’d received an inspiration as if the voice of Mitchell was telling him to form a bridge to help many.
“He came home to tell me that in 2009 and I’m still grieving,” she said. “I’m like, ‘You want to do what?’ ‘So, let’s start a foundation.’ It’s grown unbelievably since then. That’s why we talk about how the power of one life can cause a ripple effect that goes on and on and can touch so many different lives.”
In the years since the foundation was founded, it has distributed $2.3 million in helping 1,500 children with life-threatening illnesses and diseases, as well as sibling support, Thorp said. She said the foundation experienced 40 percent growth just last year.
It’s annual Warrior Spirit 5K Run/Walk has become an annual North County institution.
“Ultimately that’s what we did in finding meaning in the midst of tragedy,” Beth Thorp said.
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