There is nothing better than meeting a total stranger and feeling like you could be old friends. That is exactly the warmth and graciousness that today’s guest Beth Thorp brought to this week’s conversation. Beth is a ray of sunshine who shares her incredible story of loss and purpose.
It is always challenging talking to parents who have lost a child. Beth and her family have taken their loss and turned it into incredible support for families whose children suffer from life threatening illness with their organization the Mitchell Thorp Foundation. Join us today for an uplifting, inspirational conversation of love, family, faith and purpose.
Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
Charity Matters: Tell us a little about what The Mitchell Thorp Foundation does?
Beth Thorp: We are a public 501 C3 organization and we support families with children with life threatening illnesses, diseases and disorders by providing financial emotional resource support to them. The foundation is in honor of my son’s name. That’s why it’s titled Mitchell Thorp Foundation. His name was Mitchell. He was my firstborn son and beautiful young man. A 4.0 students who loved to play baseball. He was known for that and his father played the Dodger organization at one point before he succumb to an injury. We are a little nuts when it comes to baseball season around here.
Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to act and start The Mitchell Thorp Foundation?
Beth Thorp: My son at the age of 13, came home from school with very severe headaches. As any parent, you think maybe you’re coming down with the flu or something. So you do next indicated thing, give him a pain reliever go lay down. As days went on, he kind of got a little better, and then went back to school, but the couldn’t concentrate with head pain. Until one day he came home and he just kind of collapsed in the front yard, which just totally frightened me.
I’m crying out to my husband come quick, something is seriously wrong. We go to the doctor, and then it was really a rude awakening to our medical system. We checked off the boxes going to the doctors, and then it gets worse than he ends up in the hospital.. At his first hospital stay, he was there for three days running tests and things kept coming back negative normal. So then you’re trusting the doctors going down this path. Fast forward we had a five year journey of chasing pain, chasing trying to find a diagnosis and doctors scratching their heads trying to figure out what it was. It was a season of chaos, fear and anxiety and all those emotions that were watching your child suffer.
This was also a season of testing your faith. We all go through it at some point in time in our lives, where the rug gets pulled out from underneath us, and things change on a dime. And you’re not expecting it at all. Where is your strong foundation? Because if you don’t have one, you’re going to crumble. We’ve seen so many people who fall into situations like us. Statistically close to 75% of families end up in divorce or separation because the stresses of dealing with a medically critical ill child or a child with severe disabilities.
In 2008, a story ended up in the Union Tribune, about our family. People really wanted to help us and they created a walkathon to help us pay off our huge medical bills that we had even with great insurance. That experience totally changed us and humbled us and it really was also in my deepest pain and grief from losing our son.
As the faithful woman, I heard something deep within my spirit resonate. I knew it had to been God’s speaking to me because he said, “This is not the end, this is the beginning.” And I just sat up in my bed looked up or the heavenlies and said, “Oh, this feels like the end. What do you mean? What do you mean by that?”
So I’m looking up there and asking where did that thought come from? Why would I think that? Where would that have come from? That same week, my husband was at the local church and there was two boys he coached in baseball. Both boys unfortunately had cancer. Again, families trying to make ends meet and he really had that strong calling. He thought, we should form a foundation to help many families going through what we went through. So he comes home to tell me that. And I said, “You want to do what?” Then I really had to realize, Oh my goodness maybe that’s what he meant by that this is not the end, this is the beginning.
Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work?
Beth Thorp: It takes so much drive and that entrepreneurial spirit to make this work happen. The perseverance you really have to have is strong. And for us, it was a God given vision that we could not let go. This vision was driving us forward, like a steam engine.
Charity Matters: Tell us what success you have had and what your impact has been?
Beth Thorp: We’ve actually given back over $3 million already back into the community. So that’s like, oh, wow, we’ve helped 1000 plus people and children and counting. That’s a huge! We just started with one child and one family at a time. And that’s how it started. And you just kind of kept one foot in front of the other. Seeing these families scared out of their minds and just being that light in the dark for them is is huge for us. But yeah, the impact was huge.
Charity Matters: If you could dream any dream for your organization, what would that be?
Beth Thorp: I thought about that question and the big dream. Well, the beautiful thing was since the release of the book, my publisher now put me in touch with two film producers, who are we are writing a screenplay. Yay! We wanted to take the organization worldwide, because right now we’re just California based. We we want to build different chapters throughout the United States.
We do see ourselves what we call scaling up for that and we’re getting ready for that. And we’re in the midst of taking it and the book into an adaptation into script. So we’ll see what happens? That would be my my dream. To see it on film, the story out to those who need to hear it, to see it. And that’s going to be an inspirational story.
Charity Matters: How has this journey changed you?
Beth Thorp: I think what changed me the most is learning that I have no control over anything. If you think about it, we really don’t have control over anything. Especially my type of personality, we want to control and make things work the way it should work. So the big lesson was surrender.
I keep having to surrender every day. It’s not my will, but his. And when you can learn to do that it’s a beautiful thing to see how people come into your life, serendipitously. Those divine appointments, keep surprising me. So that is the one thing that has changed me, giving up the control and keep surrendering.
Charity Matters: What life lessons have you learned from this experience?
Beth Thorp: There’s a lot of lessons that I had to learn. Well, I think for me was to stay strong in my faith, because faith doesn’t always take you out of problem. They’ve taken you through it. Faith doesn’t always take away the pain but its going to give you the ability to get through it. And then faith doesn’t always calm the storms of life but it gets you through the storms. So it’s really for me, it was just hanging on. I’m like a cat with the claws when I felt like I wasn’t hanging on. But just staying strong in that and to just persevere and never give up.
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