When Kevin Doyle's daughter was 2 years old, she was spry and energetic, but in the space of a week, she went from jumping and skipping to not being able to roll over in her crib without help.
Doctors believed it was a virus that would pass, Doyle said, but now at 7 years old, Mercy Doyle is struggling with the same symptoms.
She suffers from tremors in her feet and deteriorated muscle coordination. She is unable to walk or crawl.
"We've been through four different chemotherapy treatments and some other similar-style stuff that people use for very strong arthritis," Doyle said. "We've had a great collaboration of doctors … and they just cannot seem to come up with any type of way to move forward."
Her parents have traveled anywhere they can for medical treatment; and neurological specialists from across the country have consulted on Mercy's case.
"Basically, they said they know it's an autoimmune thing, but she's unique to herself," Doyle said. "There's just no diagnosis for her."
Kevin and Camie Doyle both graduated from Vanguard University, the private Christian college in Costa Mesa, in 1999.
In mid December, Kevin got a call from Vanguard staff. They wanted to help raise money for Mercy.
"I do know some people there, but it still comes out of left field for me," Doyle said. He and his family live in Las Vegas, where he's a pastor.
During this weekend's homecoming, Vanguard will host a 5K run with all proceeds going to Mercy's medical expenses, which have so far topped $500,000, Doyle said.
Organizers say about 120 people have signed up to run at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Doyle said encouragement he's received even from strangers have helped sustain his family through Mercy's treatment.
"We do have a great church family," Doyle said. "We have a support system that has really surrounded us."
He said he's not sure how he'll react Saturday. The school has asked him to watch the proceedings instead of run in them.
"I think I'll feel supported. And I think our family will just feel loved," Doyle said. "We are typical as people in ministry. We typically give. And we love to give. But to be on the receiving side is very humbling. I feel like it's really what love is about."
The 5K is open to the public. Anyone interested in running can register for $10 at vanguard.edu/RunForMercy.