Thorp Foundation’s 6th annual 5K run/walk coming up Feb. 7

For five years, Brad and Beth Thorp searched for answers to their son Mitchell’s undiagnosed illness. And when the community learned of their story, it rallied around them, offering support.

“The community came out on behalf of our family and did a walkathon to help us pay off the enormous medical bills we had incurred over the years,” Beth Thorp recalled. “It was just an amazing, humbling experience.”

Although the Thorps lost their 18-year-old son in November 2008, their tragedy inspired the couple to give back to the community, founding the Mitchell Thorp Foundation, which supports families with children suffering from life-threatening illnesses, diseases and disorders.

“It was a matter of turning our tragedy into something inspirational for others,” said Thorp, co-founder and executive director. “It also helped us through our grieving process, carrying Mitchell’s name forward.”

Mitchell was in seventh grade when he started experiencing severe headaches. By the end of his five-year battle, he could no longer walk or talk, and he had difficulty seeing. The pain in his head was so severe he had seizures. Medicine did not help.

Mitchell’s medical bills multiplied as the Thorp family traveled across the country, looking for answers. To help cover some of the costs, Carlsbad baseball leagues organized a walkathon to raise money for Mitchell’s treatments.

An avid baseball fan, Mitchell grew up playing baseball in the community. He followed in his father’s footsteps, who played minor league baseball for the Dodgers. In 2009, the city of Carlsbad named the Poinsettia Park ballfield after Mitchell.

Inspired by their son’s strength and the community’s support, the Thorp family founded the Mitchell Thorp Foundation in 2009, which has since supported about 100 families by paying for medical, living and transportation costs.

“Parents will go to the ends of the Earth, like we did, to do whatever it takes to help their child,” said Thorp, whose family has lived in Carlsbad for 20 years. “We do what we can to support them.”

To raise funds for families in need, the foundation’s sixth annual 5K Run/Walk is returning Feb. 7 to Carlsbad’s Poinsettia Community Park — the same park where friends and neighbors rallied around the Thorps years before.

Nearly 1,000 people attended last year’s event, which raised about $178,000, Thorp said.

This year’s event features a new course and a chip-timed race, as well as new activities, including a Kid Ventures Kids Zone. The event will also offer food, health/wellness vendors, music and other entertainment.

“It’s very heartwarming to be there,” Thorp said. “It’s a very fun, family, community-type event. And the money goes toward something really special.”

For information or to register, visit