Mitchell Thorp Foundation teams up with Aviators for Tennis Smash

The Mitchell Thorp Foundation will host the Pillars of Hope Tennis Smash at the Omni La Costa Resort on Sunday, July 16. The “smashing” event will feature a dinner and auction event, as well as tennis action from Mylan World Team Tennis’ San Diego Aviators.

Proceeds from the event will go toward the Mitchell Thorp Foundation, founded in 2009 by Brad and Beth Thorp, whose son Mitchell died in 2008 after a five-year battle with an undiagnosed illness. The foundation’s mission is to help families in the region who have children suffering from life-threatening illness, diseases and disorders by providing financial and emotional resources.

The event begins with food stations and wine pairings, a cash bar, live music, and a silent and live auction that includes “unbelievable” items such as trips to the U.S. Open and a three-night stay in New York, an Alaskan Cruise and trips to Costa Rica, London, Belize and more.

At 6 p.m., guests will leave the ballroom to watch the San Diego Aviators take on the Orange County Breakers, featuring a match-up between the Breakers’ Maria Sharapova and Aviators’ Shelby Rogers.

“We like to mix it up and make it fun and interactive for guests, something different than the usual sit-down dinner galas,” Beth Thorp said.

Those with young families are encouraged to bring their kids — while adults are at the dinner and auction event, children can attend a kids’ event that includes a tennis clinic, games and food trucks. At 6 p.m., parents and kids can come back together for the tennis match.

Tickets are $150 for the dinner and tennis, kids’ clinic and dinner is $45.

As part of the event, the foundation also gives out The Pillar of Hope Award to honor special doctors, practitioners and therapists who go above and beyond for their patients and educate the community on health and wellness. This year’s honorees will be Dr. Andrew Accardi of Scripps Hospital and George Tidmarsh with La Jolla Pharmaceutical.

The Mitchell Thorp Foundation’s mission is driven by the Thorps’ own experience when their son got sick. The community came together to support them through Facebook groups and even hosting a walk-a-thon to help pay their $70,000 medical bill, and that was with insurance. The Thorps said they will forever be grateful for those helping hands and hearts.

“It was so humbling to us, it just changes you when people you don’t even know are helping you,” Thorp said.

After the loss of their son, it took time for the Thorps to heal and feel like they could give back, but they were adamant to do what they could to help other families. And since founding the organization, they learned there is a real need: 78 percent of families whose child is diagnosed with a critical illness experience divorce or separation, and the stress these families experience will test them beyond their endurance, often bankrupting them financially, emotionally and physically.

The Mitchell Thorp Foundation now offers several programs to bring other families help, hope and a sense of normalcy. They offer medical and home assistance, healing and rehabilitation, which includes counseling services for all members of the family and a conversion mobility van program.

The foundation is getting ready to offer its third van conversion — it takes a little longer as the vans are expensive and the beneficiary families are asked to help with the fundraising efforts for the vans. The recipient of the third van is a single mother who has two children in wheelchairs.

One of the most exciting growing programs of Mitchell Thorp is the Youth Leadership Council, started six years ago as a way to get teenagers involved in charity fundraising and events. A board of teens decides how they will spend the money they raise and in the past they have purchased an iPad for a child in the hospital and re-decorated another child’s bedroom. The council has now grown to 56 volunteer students from schools all over the region.

Thorp said she feels a strong personal connection to those her foundation helps as she and her family have walked in their shoes. They feel fortunate to be able to help other parents struggling to make ends meet and willing to do anything they can to save their child.

“We would have done anything to save Mitchell, his illness was undiagnosed until his death. It’s still unexplained,” Thorp said. “From that pain, we took it and turned it into something positive and tried to bless other families. It’s been growing ever since and it’s just amazing to see God’s hand in this.”

Tickets for the Pillars of Hope Tennis Smash can be purchased at mitchellthorp.org/events

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