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Last summer, Becky and Newell Belnap celebrated a milestone they never thought they’d see:  their youngest child’s 6th birthday.


The Belnaps love endurance sports: Becky runs marathons and Newell cycles and mountain bikes. Becky and Newell are the parents of four children — three of the children have a rare condition called mitochondrial disease.

Mitochondria exist in nearly every cell of the human body. In a person with mitochondrial disease, the mitochondria fail to convert food and oxygen into life-sustaining energy. Affected individuals experience a variety of complications, including strokes, seizures, gastrointestinal problems, blindness, deafness, heart and kidney problems, muscle failure, immune system problems and liver disease.

For the Belnaps, this means that their children who are diagnosed with the condition cannot manage many simple activities.

In 2013, the Belnaps came together with their family members and friends to form Team Belnap. As part of the Hope Flies organization, Team Belnap aims to fundraise and raise awareness of this rare disease. The fundraising will help aid research so better treatments will be available — and one day, a cure.

The motto? “We run because they cannot.”

The Belnaps chose the Sprouts Mesa Marathon (formerly known as the Sprouts Mesa Phoenix Marathon) for their first race as a new team. Several team members ran the marathon, half marathon, 10k and the kids 1k race. Runners from Team Belnap included Becky, as well as Sierra — her only child without mitochondrial disease. What’s more, three of their team members made it to the podiums: Josh McAdams won the half marathon, Mackenzie Howe won the 10K, and Jill Horst won her division in the marathon and placed 5th overall. Most importantly, Team Belnap raised more than $1,800 and handed out more than 400 bags and fliers on race day.


{Sierra Belnap runs for her three siblings, all of whom are diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease.}

If you are interested in helping raise funds and awareness for Team Belnap, click here. You can also follow along with the family’s story and read their race recap on Newell’s blog.

Congratulations to Team Belnap for participating in the Sprouts Mesa Marathon (formerly known as the Sprouts Mesa Phoenix Marathon)!