Sophie.“We really wanted to become better, not bitter,” says Missy Meinhardt. But no one could blame her and her family if they did go through a bitter phase when they lost their daughter, Sophie, to a pediatric brain tumor eight years ago. 

“From the beginning, we wanted to put our efforts into something that would help others,” Missy said. “And let us grieve and celebrate the love we have for our little girl.” 

Sophie was 18 months old when, while on vacation, she exhibited signs of illness. Her family took her to an urgent care center and eventually the nearest pediatric hospital where she was diagnosed. The doctors there urged them to come home where experts at Cincinnati Children’s could better treat her. 

Unfortunately, Sophie passed away during surgery to remove the tumor just days after her diagnosis. Her family was devastated, but pressed on to remember their youngest daughter through a 5K run and walk in her honor. 

The ninth annual Sophie’s Angel Run, a Giving Hope fundraiser, will be held at 1 pm on Sunday, Sept. 27, at St. Jude’s Parish in Bridgetown. The family-friendly event supports pediatric brain tumor research at Cincinnati Children’s, while honoring the vibrant, determined little girl. 

In the past ten years, the event has raised more than $534,200 for the medical center. This year, the family will complete their pledge of $250,000 to the Brain Tumor Center at Cincinnati Children’s. 

“The first year, we didn’t know what we were getting in to,” Missy says. “We spoke with a doctor in the Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute and told them we weren’t sure we were even going to make a dime. He said, ‘That’s one more dime than we had yesterday.’ And that really stuck with us.” 

So the family works hard to keep costs down for the event. Everything is run by volunteers, and they reuse items year after year so more funds can be donated to further research that can save others. They’ve also used free advertising on social media to raise awareness and garner support for the event. 

“We’ve learned that we can’t do it all on our own,” Missy says. “When someone asks how they can help, I write down their name and contact info. I might just send them an email and ask them to post to their Facebook, or send a note to their friends, something that is easy, but all of the support really helps.”

If you would like to support Cincinnati Children’s by holding a Giving Hope fundraiser, contact Jane Livingston at jane.livingston@cchmc.org or 513-636-5686 for more information.