Home > Family Stories > Believe Families Create “Virtual” Port to Fort Race in Virginia

Two Believe In Tomorrow families have banded together to create their own “virtual” Port to Fort 6k Race in Virginia.

Wesley Berry was just 12 years old when he was diagnosed with recurrent medullablastoma after an MRI in 2007 revealed a brain tumor. He endured numerous surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy as part of his treatment regimen. Over the course of the next six years, including four recurrences of the illness, the Berry family leaned on each other and their community for support. Fortunately, a member of Wesley’s medical team suggested the family connect with Believe In Tomorrow in 2012. Soon after applying, we scheduled the Berry family for a week at the Children’s House By the Sea.

“Ocean City was amazing,” comments Paula, Wesley’s mother. “The whole program was wonderful. Wesley and his younger brother were blown away by the scheduled boat ride with the U.S. Coast Guard, especially since they each got to drive the boat. The family portrait that was arranged through Believe In Tomorrow is one of my favorite family pictures. We met and were able to relate to other families staying at the house during our trip that we’re still close with today. The only sad part about everything was that we hadn’t learned about the program sooner.”

While the Berry family was only able to stay with us once because of Wesley’s age, the impact of their stay was so powerful, they were determined to give back. Shortly after, Wesley was working with his speech language pathologist, Michele Tritt, and learned she was running the Boston Marathon. Realizing she had a chance to make the run something bigger, Michele decided to fundraise for a charity leading up to the race. The Berry family heard this and immediately nominated Believe In Tomorrow.

In addition to the fundraising support through Michele, though, the Berry family wanted to do more. They learned about our 2013 Port to Fort 6k Race shortly after staying with us at the beach. Since the drive from their home in King George, VA, made participating in Baltimore difficult, they decided to run “virtually.” The family fundraised leading up to race day, and even went to a track at a local middle school Virginia to complete their “race.”

Another family that’s been inspired to give back to Believe In Tomorrow as a result of their experiences is the Mullins family. Esther is currently five years old, and she and her family have stayed at the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins nine times since 2010 as Esther has undergone various treatments that can only be performed at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. The Mullins’ decided to give back by participating in the 2015 Port to Fort 6k Race. Ironically, Esther’s speech language pathologist offered to push Esther in a stroller through the race, and her name was Michele Tritt. Team B.E.A.S.T. (Beautiful Esther is Amazing, Strong, and Tough!) was one of the biggest 2015 teams, and they brought in tremendous fundraising support.

This past winter, the Mullins family began discussing with Michele how they could support Believe In Tomorrow again in 2016. They decided another trip up to Baltimore from their home in King George, VA, would be too difficult. When the idea of a virtual race in King George was considered, Michele had a moment of déjà vu. She quickly contacted the Berry family, and their “virtual” 2016 Port to Fort Race was underway.

“I know how important these services can be for families with critically ill children,” Michele notes. “There couldn’t be a better organization to support.”

Michele and the families have been busy setting up their personal and team fundraising pages for the 2016 Port to Fort 6k Race. They’ve even attracted other families in the King George area to participate and fundraise. With the help of a community resident, Rebecca Gamble, the group secured Hopyard Farm as the venue. The race will on April 24th, one day after the race in Baltimore. There will be a potluck dinner celebration at the Hopyard Clubhouse after the race.

If you’re interested in joining the King George Port to Fort 6k Race in Virginia, register for the 2016 Port to Fort 6k Race here. Be sure to choose the option to register as a “Virtual Runner.” All virtual runners will be mailed a 2016 Port to Fort 6k Race t-shirt and race material. For details about the event on April 24th in Virginia, please contact Michele Tritt at 540-760-8260 or mtritt@juno.com. To see the team fundraising pages, click below:

Team B.E.A.S.T


Interested in setting up your own virtual Port to Fort race? Contact us at events@believeintomorrow.org for more information and suggestions!