Hundreds of people headed to Poinsettia Park in Carlsbad Saturday to help raise money for kids suffering from life-threatening diseases.
The Mitchell Thorp Foundation (MTF), a local nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting families of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses and disorders, held its 4th annual MTF 5K Walk/Run at Thorp Field in Carlsbad Saturday.
Many local parents and children signed up to participate in the benefit walk, including a number of cheerleaders from Carlsbad High School who were there to show support for fellow cheerleader Rebecca Edgin.
Edgin is battling cancer at Rady Children’s Hospital.
The teenager’s friends, including Ally Hatter, say Edgin is a fighter. They're happy to rally behind her in this way.
“It’s really difficult to see her in the hospital. She’s our age. She keeps her spirit up. She is just an amazing girl,” Hatter told NBC 7.
For Edgin’s family -- and so many other local families of children battling difficult diseases – their illness doesn’t just take an emotional toll, it also causes financial burden.
Hospital bills can overwhelm families as they try anything they can to care for their ill children.
This is where the Mitchell Thorp Foundation comes in.
“Even if they have insurance, the bills still come in and exceed what their insurance covers, so that’s when it gets hard for the families,” said MTF co-founder Beth Thorp.
In 2006, the community helped raise money for Brad and Beth Thorp when their son, Mitchell Thorp, was battling an illness that eventually took his life.
Since then, the Thorps have been holding fundraisers, like Saturday's 5K run, to help other families.
Their work carries a type of “pay it forward” mission that the Thorps are happy to uphold.
“It is our honor after Mitchell's passing to carry this forward,” said Thorp.
Saturday’s 5K event is also helping 11-year-old Pria Rico and her family.
At age 11, Rico has had nearly 50 throat surgeries to remove recurring tumors. The surgeries have impacted her speaking voice, leading her to talk in a faint whisper.
Still, Rico looks at the bright side, thankful for each and every day.
“We always make the best out of what we have,” said Rico. "l’ve gotten so used to it, because I've had so many [surgeries] that it doesn't really faze me anymore.”
Rico’s 7-year-old brother, Tanner, suffers from MS and needs to see a specialist in Ohio.
For the Rico family, fundraisers like the MTF 5K are a true blessing.
"The fundraiser literally pays for it for us,” said Pria’s and Tanner’s father, Tony Rico.
The walk will make is possible for Tanner to see that specialist.
And that’s certainly something to cheer about.
More information about the Mitchell Thorp Foundation and how you can help support local children and families in need, visit the organization’s website.