Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2003. This was Mattie's first trip to the Los Angeles Zoo. At the Zoo they have a wonderful kid's section, which includes a petting zoo. Mattie and Peter went into the petting zoo, and as you can see while riding on Peter's back, Mattie was trying to understand where he was, what he was doing, and why a big animal was so close to him. Mattie went back several times to the Zoo on various different trips, and since he loved animals, this was a great adventure for him.
Quote of the day: The functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy. ~ Dean Koontz
It was a damp and rainy day in DC, and it did not motivate me at all to leave our home. So we decided to take the time and transfer our plants and trees that we take inside for the winter, outside today. What a chore that was and also a mess. We have quite a job ahead of us to get ready for the spring. Over the winter we fed the birds using many feeders on both our balcony and deck. Though that was a special treat to see our feathered friends throughout the winter, they have left me a ton to clean up and dig out of. I need a warm and non-rainy weekend to contend with all of this.
I was able to upload all the photos our photographer took from the Symposium. I will begin sharing them with you tonight and this will continue over the next several days. I know many of our supporters couldn't attend this event, so it is my hope that you get a feeling for it through the pictures.
On the morning of the event it was overcast and pouring. In fact, we were thankful we brought all the Symposium folders and most of the paper products to the Capitol the day before the event. Otherwise, everything would have gotten soaked! This picture captured the grey morning of the Symposium which was also the first day of spring.
However, after the Symposium was over and we walked outside, this was the glorious sight we saw. Sunshine and beautiful tulips and cherry trees surrounding the Capitol. Seems symbolic of the historic event that had just taken place.
A week before the Symposium occurred, I went to the Capitol Hill Visitor Center to visit with our on-site event coordinator. While meeting with her, I asked her whether I could create directional signs and post them throughout the center for our attendees to follow. The Capitol Hill Visitor Center is enormous and it is easy to get confused inside the building. So as you can see, Sheryl, our photographer, started our event by snapping pictures of some of our directional signs!
In front of our registration area, I displayed this sign. The Capitol Hill Visitor Center has many rules and regulations that need to be followed in order to host an event there. The first rule is there can be NO logos of any kind on display. So our Mattie Miracle sun logo was scrubbed from everything.
Behind the registration desk was two rows of orange gift bags on display. These were gifts we provided to all our professional and parent speakers.
To run this event successfully we needed five capable volunteers (Heidi isn't pictured here). In this picture with Peter and I are Tina, Dave, Erin, and Isabel. Erin and Isabel are girl scouts. From the same girl scout troop who raised money to build 100 Build-a-Bears and then went with me to Georgetown University Hospital in February to deliver them to children who were in-patient.
Registration ran very smoothly. You can see my friend, Heidi (in pink), overseeing the girls and the process. At registration, attendees picked up a folder (containing a detailed program, a pad of paper, a pen, and an event evaluation form) and a name tag. Also at registration, staffers could sign in and participants who needed continuing education credits received a certificate at the end of the day.
My friend Tina was overseeing the registration table all day! In this picture, she was interacting with a congressional staffer who was signing in and spending part of the morning with us. It is thanks to Tina, Isabel, and Erin, that lunch actually took place on time. Despite the fact that on the catering contract and with our catering manager lunch was agreed upon to be served at noon, there was a screw up and lunch wasn't actually going to be set up until 1pm. Fortunately the volunteers caught this error and Tina got the catering staff hopping and ready at noon. Naturally I did not know any of this was going on outside the room. THANKFULLY!
This is what the actual room looked like empty.
I was very cognizant of the room capacity, which was 80. The Visitor Center is very serious about room caps for fire code reasons. So at some point I had to close registration and though I had wanted a different room set up, classroom style did work and accommodated all of our attendees. Our volunteer, Dave, was in the room with us at all times, and he helped attendees find seating throughout the event and he also held up time cards for each speaker in order to keep them on schedule. Dave was a lifesaver, because despite a VERY full agenda, we kept to time and things flowed throughout the day.
Tonight, Peter and I went to Mattie's preschool annual auction. This is the third straight year we have gone since Mattie died. Peter and I both feel strongly about supporting this school for various reasons. The first of which is Mattie had two of his happiest years at this school, second, Mattie met his first closest friend there and learned how to be a good friend, and third, during Mattie's cancer battle the school united to help us in extraordinary ways. In fact, I still keep in close contact with almost every mom in Mattie's first preschool class, and several of them are instrumental in our annual Foundation Walk. So in Mattie's memory, I am compelled to go back and financially support such a special place. I reconnected with Mattie's teachers tonight, Mattie's preschool director, and several families we know whose children still attend the preschool. However, I also have developed a reputation at these auctions, because I typically have a strategy for winning. Tonight, I went to the auction, after studying the catalog ahead of time, with the goal of winning ten items that I was going to use to help fill some of our great Mattie Miracle raffle baskets in May. These auction items however were dispersed all around a very big room, so I had my work cut out for me during the silent auction. I had literally 10 different things to scan for and monitor, but there is a method to my madness, and I am happy to say I was very successful, or more importantly the Mattie Miracle Walk raffle ultimately benefitted from these efforts.