Teen’s ‘Wish’ will help the homeless, physically challenged
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
A local teen is using her Make-A-Wish on Saturday not for herself, but to help the homeless and inspire the physically challenged.
The inaugural Tehyathon 5K fundraiser, inspiration walk and celebration concert will be Saturday, April 21 at Cathedral Catholic High School, 5555 Del Mar Heights Road in San Diego. It will begin with sports activities and mini-carnival at 2 p.m. and concert at 5:30 p.m.
“When Make-A-Wish San Diego asked me what I wanted, it was easy to answer, I want to celebrate the people who have helped Tehyathon and to inspire others to make a difference in their communities,” said Tehya Foussat. “No matter what circumstances you are facing, you always have the choice to inspire people and to celebrate the wonderful things that are happening.”
While offered a wish at age 12, Foussat said she turned it down since others were in worse health than she and needed it more. She decided to accept it two years ago, but wanted it to be something that benefits others, not herself.
The now 18-year-old senior at Cathedral Catholic was born with lipomyelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida. Doctors told her parents, Tony and Christine Foussat, she would unlikely walk and have “little to no quality of life.”
Despite the prognosis, the couple raised their daughter with the belief she could accomplish anything. With that mind-set, she learned to walk and became a competitive cheerleader, gymnast and swimmer.
She has had many surgeries and hospitalizations that forced her to miss months of school at a time. During one episode as an Oak Valley Middle School seventh-grader, her teacher, Martin Reisert, entered a triathlon in her honor and raised money for Shriners Hospital, which was providing her medical care. That led to the family founding Tehyathon, a non-profit organization supporting spina bifida patients and their families, and provide resources to researchers. In addition, the teen created Tenderness Totes, filled with basic necessities that she distributed with others to the homeless in San Diego.
Over the past six years, 600 totes have been distributed. Foussat said her goal is 1,000 totes by June. Money from Saturday’s fundraiser will go to this project.
The sports event will include wheelchair races for those with medical and mobility challenges, who will be honorary Tehyathon Athletes for the Day. The mini-carnival will include children’s activities, vendors and entertainment.
The concert will feature inspirational speakers, singers, hip-hop and contemporary dancers plus other performing artists. These include Unity San Diego, Syde FX, Culture Shock Dance, Mighty Shock Dance, University of San Diego and Cathedral Catholic High School dance teams, professional dancers Keone and Mari Madrid plus Carlo Darang, artist Clarione Gutierrez, spoken word artist Rudy Francisco, and musicians Henry Mullins, Michael Tiernan, Dawn Mitschele and Tim Foley.
Also participating will be San Diego Charger Darrell Stuckey, pro boxer MMA Fighter Rich Power, Major League Baseball player Fernando Cortez and inspirational athlete Ricky James.
Tickets for those who want to attend the entire event are $30, while a run, walk and mini-carnival ticket is $20. A spectator, mini-carnival and concert ticket is $15 and a spectator and mini-carnival ticket alone is $10. Purchase at tehyathon.eventbrite.com.
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