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The community of Carlsbad rallied around its children on Saturday as young and old, students and parents, runners and walkers, local officials, families and friends gathered for the fourth annual Mitchell Thorp Foundation 5k Run/Walk. The Foundation was created by Brad and Beth Thorp after their son Mitchell's death at age 18 from a five-year battle with a mysterious illness. Their mission is to support families whose children suffer from life-threatening illnesses, diseases and disorders. Events like the annual 5K raise funds to help those families with medical bills, while the foundation connects caregivers with counseling and faith services and assistance with day-to-day needs for their families at home.
Counting race registration fees as well as corporate sponsorship, raffle tickets and individual donations, organizers expect to earn around $135,000 from this one event. The event took place at Poinsettia Community Park, a self-contained venue that required little in the way of overhead costs.
County Supervisor Ron Roberts had the privilege of making a proclamation in honor or the Mitchell Thorp Foundation. Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall and City Council members were in attendance and gave their heartfelt support, including a donation from Council Member Blackburn. Several members of the Carlsbad Unified School District Board of Trustees and several teachers were there, running or walking alongside students and families, and many school administrators served as volunteers. Andrea Coghill, representative for corporate sponsor NRG and former staff member at Mitchell Thorp’s middle school, became emotional as she presented a plaque in support of the Foundation.
There are more than a dozen local children whom this year’s event will benefit, including Rebecca Edgin, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in September 2012.
Fourteen-year-old Rebecca and her twin brother Jordan are freshmen at Carlsbad High. Popular Rebecca was an enthusiastic, happy member of cheer-leading teams including the San Diego Sockers and participated in beauty pageants until her illness began to show itself in unexplained fatigue. She is now fighting to regain some strength and medical stability at Rady Children’s Hospital while awaiting a bone marrow donor match. Her mom, brother, and younger sister spend as much time with her as possible while still keeping up with their own work and school obligations. The outpouring of support from their friends and the Mitchell Thorp Foundation have been critical to their ability to cope.
Michelle Edgin, Rebecca’s mom, expressed her gratitude during the opening ceremonies before the run/walk. She acknowledged the help the Foundation had given at Christmas with gifts for the family while Rebecca was in the ICU and for help with her rent. She encouraged everyone to continue to participate in the coming years as well, not just this year because, “Its not just our family, but it’s so many others who are affected” and will need help in times of hardship. Jordan and Michaela, Rebecca’s siblings, were flanked at the event by many friends who came out to walk, run, or enjoy pizza, Hawaiian Shave Ice, face painting, and festivities.
Other families of children who are currently fighting serious illnesses also spoke to express their thanks. Several of the Foundation’s former beneficiaries have recovered and are now enjoying life after disease. Sam Reiser, who successfully completed treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after being diagnosed in 2009, gave an inspirational pep talk. He encouraged everyone affected by a life-threatening illness to keep fighting and use their tears to “water their soul” and continue to grow in faith and hope throughout the experience. Bill Lord, father of fifteen-year-old Harry who is now in remission, choked with emotion as he recounted the difficult years in his son’s life while they battled with cancer.
Several of the children for whom the event was held were present. Amanda Barvinchak amazed everyone as she walked through the crowd to join her parents at the microphone. Amanda is recovering from bone cancer and had been in a wheelchair when not hospitalized.
One child who could not attend was Rebecca, who is still in the ICU on breathing support. There will be two bone marrow drives this month to encourage possible donors to register with the bone marrow registry and hopefully find a match for Rebecca. The drives will both be held at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, 354 Santa Fe Dr. The first will be held on Thursday, February 14th from 6am-10am (a school holiday in Carlsbad) and then on Saturday, February 23rd from 10am- 4pm. http://marrow.org/Join/Medical_Guidelines The procedure will be a simple cheek swab test. More information on the procedures for participating in a bone marrow drive can be found at http://marrow.org/Join/Medical_Guidelines/Medical_Guidelines_for_Joining_the_Registry.aspx the National Bone Marrow Registry site. Also, the San Diego Sockers are donating a portion of the proceeds from tickets sales in a special ‘Rebecca’s section” towards her treatment. Tickets for this section can be requested at (866)799-GOAL or at http://www.sdsockers.com/stadium/index_E.html.