Mattie Miracle 9th Annual Walk & Family Festival -- Raised over $97,000

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful. As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.

As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. Please visit the website at: and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

August 17, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007 in Coronado, California. Peter snapped a picture of us in front of the Coronado Bridge. Mattie loved San Diego, for various reasons, such as the water, seeing boats, Sea World, and of course his favorite park............ LEGOLAND!

Fact about Belfast, Ireland: Belfast is derived from the Irish word Béal Feirste, meaning "mouth of the shoal." It is the capital of, and largest city in, Northern Ireland. By population, it is the fourteenth largest city in the United Kingdom. Historically, Belfast has been a centre for the Irish linen industry (earning the nickname "Linenopolis"), tobacco production, rope-making and shipbuilding: the city's main shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff, which built the well-known RMS Titanic, propelled Belfast on to the global stage in the early 20th century as the biggest and most productive shipyard in the world.

Yesterday we were in Dublin, which is the capital of the Republic of Ireland, which has its OWN government and flies the tricolored Irish flag (orange, white, and green). Today, we were still in Ireland, but Northern Ireland.

Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and it is a part of the United Kingdom, and is ruled by Great Britain. Belfast has experienced a renaissance since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 (in which President Clinton played a key role), that promised an end to the decades-old "Troubles" between Catholics and Protestants. Stretching along both sides of the River Lagan, this graceful city of Victorian and Edwardian buildings has become a cosmopolitan tourist destination. It was once a major industrial center, but now Belfast is a gateway to the rich Irish countryside of Antrim and Down. Belfast was an industrial giant in the 19th century, famed for its linen and its shipyards.

I have to admit that prior to traveling to Ireland, I understood the “Troubles” or conflict (as it is now referred to) on a very superficial level. After two days on this Island, I can say that the conflict was indeed complex, so much so, that even our guides have difficulty trying to express this issue concisely. I believe this is true with any issue that centers on religion, beliefs, and cultural identity. I can’t say that I truly comprehend the “Troubles,” but I definitely have a much better understanding of its complexities.

In Belfast, it is abundantly clear that two cultures live in this region, and they are British and Irish. After decades of unrest and violence, these two cultures are cohabitating and learning to tolerate each other. However, this blending of minds and hearts are not easy to achieve and from my observation tensions and segregation still exist in Belfast today. I will try to show you a couple of example of my observations through photographs. However, any time I see one group of people trying to oppress and change another, I just pause. I pause because it seems so foreign and against my comprehension and temperament. Nonetheless, such atrocities happen, and I got to see firsthand the impact of such political and religious cleansing.

Arriving into Belfast!

As we arrived into Belfast, we saw the old shipyards of Harland and Wolff, who designed and built the Titanic. Here is the dry dock in which Titanic was constructed and launched.

Located within the former shipyard of Harland and Wolff is a striking ultra-modern building resembling the hulls of four ships. This building houses the Titanic Museum. Though we did not go to the Museum, I heard that it offers interactive exhibits that help uncover the story of the Titanic, from her conception, construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and final place in history.

Established under the Government Act of Ireland in 1920, the Stormont Estate was constructed to house the Government of Northern Ireland. Construction began in 1923 and was completed in 1932. For forty years this building served as the seat of Parliament in Northern Ireland until 1972, when under political unrest, Northern Ireland came under direct rule from Westminster parliament. Notice however that on the top of this building (which looks like our US Capitol building to me) there are two flag poles. Neither the British Jack nor the Irish Tricolor flag are blowing in the wind here. This isn’t ONLY happening today, these flag poles remain bare each day. The reason is because neither cultural group is comfortable seeing their flag next to the others. So though this building is used to house Northern Ireland’s political leaders, neither flag is flown above this building. To me this speaks volumes and still shows the unrest and tensions that will take generations to overcome.

The Titanic memorial is a permanent tribute to over 1500 passengers and crew who lost their lives on April 14, 1914. To commemorate the 100 year anniversary, this memorial, remembrance garden, and memorial statues were opened on April 14, 2012.

We were told that unlike other memorials, this memorial lists EVERY person who lost his/her life on the Titanic, regardless of geographic origin, class or stature! Therefore, this memorial acknowledges the loss of each human life.

When we arrived on the campus of Queen’s University, I honestly did not realize what stood before me. At first I thought it was some sort of castle, and was shocked to learn that this was part of their University campus. It was an absolutely beautiful campus.


Housed near the University’s campus are the Botanical gardens which were founded in 1828. The popular gardens are home to music concerts and the historic palm house, one of the first curvilinear cast-iron greenhouses in the world. This stop made quite an impression upon me. The gardens were beautiful, so colorful and full of life. The color of grass in Wales and Ireland is breathtaking, almost too perfectly green to be believed. But considering that it rains everyday in these places, it does explain the lushness. Within the botanical greenhouse, was a beautiful poem framed upon the wall that was written by a man. The poem caught my attention, because he reflected upon his time as a child coming to this space. As a child he found the greenhouse to be magical, as if it transported him away to a foreign land. I related to that glorious words and feelings, because I feel the same way when I enter the botanical gardens in DC on a cold winter’s day.

While we were at the Botanical Gardens, a couple who lived close to Belfast stopped to talk with Peter. They were walking their dog, and they struck up conversation and wanted to welcome us to Ireland. They were a charming couple, very warm and welcoming, and the woman in this couple and I shared something immediately in common. We both don’t like to fly, and unlike me, who will reluctantly do it, she will not!

Our guide reinforced to us that the majority of the “troubles” or conflict between the British and Irish took place amongst the working class. These are some of the last remaining homes of the “working class” in Belfast. The majority of these structures have now been torn down.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) created gardens of remembrance all over Belfast. You may notice a letter D on the gates of this garden. The D signifies the name of the troop based in Belfast, and within the garden are the names of people who lost their lives within the violence of the conflict.

These pillars represent the walls of a typical barrier that was set up in Belfast to separate the British (protestants) from the Irish (Catholics). In many ways, life in Belfast resembled life in an occupied territory.  

Popular art played a prominent role during the "Troubles." The gable ends of houses were painted with vivid murals to proclaim a neighborhood's political affiliations, and remain a much-photographed part of Belfast's past. This “peace wall” is located on Shankill Road, an authentic working-class community. These walls tell the story of Belfast’s violent past and its belief in the future. Belfast came to world attention with the outbreak of the "Troubles" in the 1960s. The Troubles (Irish: Na Trioblóidí) was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast "Good Friday" Agreement of 1998. However, sporadic violence has continued since then. The principal issues at stake in the Troubles were the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the relationship between the mainly Protestant unionist and mainly Catholic nationalist communities in Northern Ireland.

Along our tour we drove through various communities. Notice this community is flying the British Jack and as pictures of Queen Elizabeth 2 everywhere. Though I did not post it, we drove through a similar community that flew only Ireland’s tricolor flag. It is very apparent that the two different cultures of Northern Ireland still live in enclaves, enclaves that value different traditions, political priorities, and religions.

At Cave Hill you can see Belfast Castle, one of the most celebrated landmarks of the city whose presence is ingrained into Belfast's social history and culture. Belfast Castle, on the lower slopes boasts beautiful gardens and an adjoining country park.

It is said that good luck will come to those who visit Belfast Castle as long as the tradition of the cat is kept. The story goes that there has always been a resident white cat at the Castle and the gardens celebrate this tale with nine references made to the cat in paving, structure, and garden furniture.
I am ending tonight’s posting with a picture of Peter and my dad. They rarely make it into the pictures, so I had them stop and pose at Belfast Castle.

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