One family’s tragedy became a blessing in disguise for hundreds of parents struggling to take care of children with life-threatening illnesses in San Diego. The Mitchell Thorp Foundation, or MTF, was created by Beth and Brad Thorp after their own personal journey with their son, Mitchell.
At the age of 13, Mitchell Thorp started developing headaches, which got progressively worse over the next five years. Beth recalls that dark time.
“When a child is suffering from a life-threatening medical condition, it’s devastating and turns the family upside down. Our journey took us and Mitchell all over the United States in and out of different hospitals, seeing different doctors, hoping and looking for answers that someone could help us diagnose what was going on with him.”
But the Thorps never got answers. Still undiagnosed, Mitchell passed away at 18.
“In our deepest grief, the Lord clearly spoke to me that this was not the end, that it was the beginning. At that time, I really did not know what that meant as I was consumed in sadness.”
Beth remembers how the community came out to support them when Mitchell was still battling for his life by conducting a walkathon to ease the burden of sky-rocketing medical bills. “It nearly bankrupted us. The bills keep piling up and the downward spiral effect takes you down deeper.”
The walkathon helped the Thorps to pay off more than $100,000 in medical bills.
“This truly changed us,” Beth recalls, “to see good-hearted people wanting to help us, some we never even knew. We were never the same. We were forever changed, humbled and grateful for such generosity, and we felt compelled to pay it forward.”
That’s how the Mitchell Thorp Foundation began.
The foundation provides financial and emotional support to families whose kids suffer from life-threatening illnesses, as well as providing resources for their different needs. It helps to cover the cost of anything not covered by insurance. The foundation also has a van-conversion program, helping families with wheelchair-bound children. The Thorps also adopt families in need for the holidays, providing presents.
Many families simply do not survive the trauma of having a child with a critical medical condition. Seventy-eight percent end up in divorce or separation. MTF has a 100 percent success rate with keeping families together through its counseling services.
The foundation has provided help to almost 900 children so far. Each family gets anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 a month depending on their needs. Over the last 10 years, the Mitchell Thorp Foundation has given more than $1 million to families in need. It raises money in a variety of ways, including fundraising events, individual and corporate donations, workplace matching gifts, grants, and charitable stock and legacy giving.
Since each family has individualized needs, the foundation customizes a giving plan. The family fills out an application and foundation members make a home visit. Then the case is brought before the board to approve what’s needed for each child and family.
“It has brought us tremendous joy and helps us deal with our own pain knowing that the foundation can help in some way,” says Beth, “to bring relief, hope and joy while transforming lives in the process. All the thank yous and testimonies from families keeps us going. To watch that sigh of relief over the moms’ and dads’ faces often brings many tears of gratitude.”
The foundation’s next big fundraiser is on Sunday, July 21, The Pillars of Hope Tennis Smash and Grand Slam Party, in partnership with World Team Tennis and the San Diego Aviators at the Omni La Costa Resort from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Grand Slam Party) and 5-7 p.m. (tennis match). All proceeds will benefit children and families in need. Sponsorships are still available for the event. To learn more or sign up, go to www.mitchellthorp.org/events or contact Brad Thorp at firstname.lastname@example.org.