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

June 12, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2007. We took Mattie to Lancaster, PA and together we rode on an Amish wagon and toured through a working farm. Mattie loved the whole experience and the adventure and I was personally fascinated by the culture and the landscape.

Quote of the day: You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Do you think that one person can change the world? It is an interesting question that I think should be answered by a qualified YES. I do think that one person can make an impact on the people he/she comes in contact with and that contact can cause a whole cascade effect on others. Almost like a ripple in a body of water.

I was invited over to my friend Heidi's house today. Not to meet with Heidi, but to talk with her 15 year old daughter, Isabel. I have worked with Isabel before when she was in 8th grade. Isabel and her girl scout troop selected Mattie Miracle as an organization to work with to fulfill their community service hours. That year Isabel's troop raised $1000 to build 100 Build-a-Bear teddy bears to donate to children and their siblings at Georgetown University Hospital. Isabel's troop visited the Hospital twice and on both occasions interacted with the children who were in-patient in the pediatric units. I knew Isabel wanted to meet with me today to talk about another service learning project with Mattie Miracle, I just did not know the extent of her commitment or desire.

Keep in mind Isabel is 15. It was Isabel who made me lunch today. She set a beautiful table and actually cooked in front of me. While she was preparing lunch we talked about her future career goals and also about one of her favorite TV shows, House. I too like House, so she was in good company, and I understood exactly what she was talking about. The beauty of being 15 is that anything and everything does seem possible in the world.

It doesn't take long for one to see that Isabel isn't like your typical teenager. Isabel seems wise beyond her years, or if I had to put this in context, she is driven by an internal passion and mission. The mission is to help others, particularly children. Her desire does not seem to be regulated by a check list, a task, or to fulfill a requirement. Instead, it is almost like she is driven by a higher power. I do not get this type of feeling when interacting with most young people today, so I would say Isabel gives me pause. In fact, Isabel said she sometimes wonders why God allows people to suffer or feel such loss. She has no answers but does believe there is a purpose and as she said to me, I am fulfilling my purpose in life through the Foundation. Actually she put it more eloquently than I am perhaps writing it. I have to say her existential dialogue caught me off guard because most people do not interact with me this way anymore. When I was in graduate school and in my counseling degree program, I had many, many conversations like this, but not so many anymore.

Isabel has all the makings of becoming a powerful social change agent and I think in her own way she looks upon me in this fashion. She is intrigued by my "strength" and ability to take a horrific tragedy and try to use this to fuel my desire to help others. As I told Isabel, I am not always strong, and I do not always have a direction in mind. But I was certainly very appreciative to hear her kind words and her reflections.

While having lunch, Isabel introduced me to a name I must admit I never heard of before, and that is Joseph Kony. As Isabel was talking to me about a project for Mattie Miracle, she kept referring to the Kony 2012 video. She could tell I had no idea what she was talking about. This 2012 video went viral, it was all over You Tube, Facebook, etc! The premise of the video was to introduce the world to the horrors of Joseph Kony and to really call the video's viewer to action! Apparently it was very successful at that, and Isabel wanted to show me the video so I understood the nature and impact of social media.

Joseph Rao Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), guerrilla group which used to operate in Uganda. While initially purporting to fight against government suppression, the LRA allegedly turned against Kony's own supporters, supposedly to "purify" the Acholi people and turn Uganda into a theocracy. Kony proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, and has been considered by some as a cult of personality, and claims he is visited by a multinational host of 13 spirits, including a Chinese phantom. Kony has been accused by government entities of ordering the abduction of children to become child-sex slaves and child soldiers. An estimated 66,000 children became soldiers and from 1986 up until about 2009, there were at least 2 million people internally displaced.

Kony received a surge of attention in early March 2012 when a 30-minute documentary titled Kony 2012 by film maker Jason Russell for the campaign group Invisible Children Inc. was released. The intention of the production was to draw attention to Kony in an effort to increase United States involvement in the issue and have Kony arrested by the end of 2012.

A poll suggested that more than half of young adult Americans heard about Kony 2012 in the days following the video's release. If you are interested in watching this 30 minute video, go to: But I warn you, there are aspects of the video that are emotionally disturbing.

In the past, people have mentioned to me the idea of doing a documentary or something such as that to promote Mattie Miracle and our cause and mission. That notion has remained on my mind and then Heidi sent me a link to a Washington Post article yesterday that highlighted a high school teen in Virginia who developed a documentary about childhood cancer. The documentary was 60 MINUTES long and the premise of the video was to bring awareness to the lack of funding for childhood cancer research and drug development. This is a fact, as a parent who lost a child to cancer, I am TIRED of hearing about. The drugs we use to fight childhood cancer are antiquated and in the last 20 years the FDA has approved two new cancer drugs for children. When you look at the facts and the simple notion that so much about the biology of childhood cancer is UNKNOWN, I am not hopeful about finding a cure for the numerous forms of childhood cancer anytime soon. With that being said, the psychological impact of cancer is very real, it is a day to day problem! In fact, the psychological impact of having your child diagnosed with cancer is truly a lifetime problem for the entire family. Yet unlike the issues we see with medical treatment, there are psychosocial tools, strategies, and services we can provide HERE and NOW to help children and their families with cancer. Things that do not require millions or billions of dollars to implement. Isabel understands this and therefore is very eager to get our message out and to do it in a compelling way. Needless to say, I am thrilled to be working with Isabel and I am excited to have a young person who is passionate about our work and wants to devote 100 or more hours to help us. As the project unfolds, our supporters will be hearing more about this. Amazing!!!!!

Before leaving Isabel's home, she let me borrow a book she just read entitled, The Fault is our Stars. It is a fictional account of a teenager who has thyroid cancer, but why Isabel gave me the book is that she thought I would appreciate the psychological portrayal of cancer. I began reading the first chapter and it already resonated with me. The main character in the story, Hazel, a sixteen year old girl is forced to go to a support group by her mother. Hazel's depiction of the support group is so spot on to me. She uses a word to describe the group, and the word is competition! Peter and I went to one support group meeting and then never went back for the exact same reason Hazel cites, there was a sense of competition in the group. As if another child's battle and loss was worse or more important than Mattie's. It was a feeling that infuriated me and how I did not explode in that meeting was truly a feat.

I never really looked at myself as a change agent or even inspirational. But when I interact with young people like Isabel, I begin to see things differently. So I agree with Gandhi, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world!"

No comments: