Miracles of Mitch: Kids raise over $600K to help families

Miracles of Mitch: Kids raise over $600K to help families

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During the holiday season, most kids are thinking about what to ask for from Old Saint Nick -- but some special children are being honored for what they are giving instead.

Miracles for Mitch is a charity that started as a dying boy's last wish -- and now kids are keeping the tradition of giving going and seeing firsthand how people are being helped.

In 2003, Mitch Chepokas lost his 10-month battle with bone cancer -- but in his final days, he put together a plan to help the families of other kids with cancer. He emptied his bank account, dividing up $6,000 into envelopes and gave it to the children he met at the hospital.

"He looked at me and said, 'Well, I want to do it next year,'" Steve Chepokas told FOX 9. "I said, 'Son, you're not going to be here next year.' He knew he was dying, and it was then that he looked at me and he goes, 'After I die, dad, I want you to do that.'"

This year, the Miracles of Mitch raised more than $600,000 to offset everyday expenses families with sick children face, from food, gas and parking to money to help with rent or mortgage payments.

"Even if you have good medical insurance, everything is more expensive when your kid has cancer," explained Betsy Grams.

In a season that's all about giving, Mitch Chepokas appears to have given one of the greatest gifts of all by teaching other kids how much of a gift generosity can be.

Brothers Jonathan, Benjamin and Mitchell Lesage raised $9,500 through a lemonade and muffin stand -- but they also went door-to-door in Chanhassen and sent out e-mails to raise awareness.

Freshman Anna Rice raised more than $13,000 through a silent auction, and she isn't alone in topping the $10,000 mark. The top 11 fundraisers brought in more than $111,000.

"I just love the idea about the foundation that it teaches kids -- at a young age -- that these are kids just like you, and you have a chance to help them," Rice said.

Next year, the Miracles of Mitch Foundation will celebrate a decade of service. In its first year, the foundation helped about a dozen families. Now, that number has grown to about 300 -- and their next fundraiser will be a New Year's Eve benefit.

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