Mattie Miracle 8th Annual Walk & Family Festival was an $88,000 Success!!!

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: www.mattiemiracle.com 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

April 25, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2006. I took Mattie to the Reston Zoo and one of the many things he enjoyed doing there was riding the ponies. Mattie thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the Reston Zoo, mainly because it is a very hands on Zoo for children... from feeding the animals to being up close and personal with them.


Quote of the day: Planting a flower's like opening a book, because either way you're starting something. And your garden's your library. ~ Nora Roberts


I spent a good portion of the day staging and wrapping our raffle baskets for the Foundation Walk. We have nine baskets this year. I completed 7 of the 9 baskets today. The remaining two still have outstanding items that I am waiting to be delivered before I can complete the staging process. For a listing of our raffle items, how to purchase tickets, and the contributors to our raffle, please see the links below. 


Mattie Miracle Raffle:
http://www.mmcfwalk.myevent.com/3/miscellaneous2.htm

Contributors to the Raffle:
http://www.mmcfwalk.myevent.com/3/miscellaneous5.htm



Here are:

1. Apple iPad Air Basket
2. The Washington Nationals Basket
3.Washington Capitals Fan Pack Basket









Here are:

1. Wine of the Month
2. Dining around town
3. One of a kind t-shirt quilt
4. Money Tree







In between helping me wrap baskets, Peter was planting roses and tomato plants. He lost all of his beautiful roses this spring from the horrible winter we had. So today, he replanted! 
















Our deck is coming along! It has been a slow clean out process from a horrible winter. Many of our plants are in now, though more needs to be done and I still need to paint the deck. I need a couple of elves or a fairy godmother. Either right now would be greatly appreciated. 

April 24, 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2006. To me, Mattie looks like he was caught in the middle of a rain shower in this photo, as he was drenched. However, this was a self inflicted shower..... with a hose. Mattie enjoyed playing with our deck hose, he loved puddles, mud, and all sorts of messes. Not that he wanted to get messed up, but it was an excuse for his cars and trucks to drive through these elements. Mattie could play for hours with just the basics because with his creativity and imagination lots of things were possible. 




Quote of the day: Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. ~ Vince Lombardi



I have been glued to the computer all day today and I am very tired. So tonight's posting will be very short. Last night on Facebook we posted the above photo in reorganization of "throw back" Thursday. This photo was taken during the first Walk hosted by our support community in 2009. Mattie was in attendance at that event. It was from that event that our Mattie Miracle Walk evolved. All the women with Hawaiian leis around their necks were from Georgetown University Hospital and were directly connected to Mattie's care!   

The update on this year's Walk is that we have 15 walk teams participating, 113 individual donors who have contributed so far, and have raised $35,814 to date! As Lombardi's quote tonight points out, a $60,000 miracle can only be achieved with teamwork! 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2006. Mattie was visiting his favorite restaurant for Easter Brunch. I must admit that I did not realize that we were going to be visited that day by the Easter Bunny! If I had, I would have been prepared and could have given Mattie some warning. When this bunny approached us, Mattie was quite hesitant, and as you can see he wanted me to lift him up and move him away. But after we reassured him that this bunny was okay, Mattie actually got into the visit. This was where Mattie and I differed as children. At Mattie's age, I would have dove underneath the table and stayed there until the bunny left the vicinity. I was very scared of all costumed characters and frankly am not wild about them even now as an adult. With Mattie, you could reason with him, and once you did, he bought into the experience!


Quote of the day: The chief function of color should be to serve expression. ~ Henri Matisse

This morning was like a comedy of errors. First of all I woke up absolutely exhausted from another week full of work. Yet I had to pull it together to teach a kindergarten art session at Mattie's school by 8:30am. Though I left 30 minutes to get to the school, I wasn't counting on a motorcade of police cars blocking off the Memorial Bridge, the route I usually take to get to the school. So literally I had to re-route myself to the campus. Being directionally challenged this was most unfortunate and I landed up being 15 minutes late. However, I had Peter call Donna, the teacher to let her know.

When I got to the classroom, Donna was talking to the children about what it feels like to be "stuck" and frustrated. I knew exactly where the impetus of this conversation came from.... the children learned I was stuck in traffic. So most likely Donna wanted them to reflect on feeling stuck. The wonderful part about this is Donna and I play off of each other very well and Donna said...... Mrs. Brown, I wonder if Matisse ever felt stuck in his life and what ways did he use to help him with that feeling? The perfect segway into my two hour session. But it was actually brilliant because in many ways Matisse used art to help him get UNSTUCK during many points in his life. How?

Matisse came and discovered art late in his life. Well late in comparison to Picasso. Picasso was basically born an artist and painted as a child. Matisse was studying to become a lawyer until one day he developed appendicitis and had to recover at home for weeks. I explained to the children that when one was recovering at home back then, there was NO TV, NO computers, NO video game, and so forth. So the way Matisse's mom occupied him was she gave him some paper and box of colored pencils. The rest was history. This was where his love of art began, while recuperating from an illness and dealing with boredom and recovery. He was stuck and art helped him get unstuck. But it was much more than that. Matisse never felt passionate about law and only was pursuing this career for the sake of his father. Art awakened something inside of him.

Obviously as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century, Matisse is now known as one of the originators of Fauvism (which translated from French means 'Wild Beast,' it is painting objects and people with colors that may not seem realistic or true to nature.... such as painting an apple purple for example). Matisse did not care about reality (like Picasso), he was far more interested in what the color evoked. The feeling! By the time we finished today, the children understood that Matisse was born in France, he is considered a master of color, the father of Fauvism, and he was unlike Picasso because he was very neat, organized, and painted during the day. However, like Picasso his art style was unappreciated in France and even made fun of, was influenced by one of his parent's, and had a love of birds.

In his mid-70s, Matisse developed cancer. I did not explain this to the children. I just mentioned that he was ill and wheelchair bound. Again, such a set back could have caused him to become stuck. After all, he was no longer physically able to paint, something he spent his whole life doing and what he loved most in the world. Yet when all else failed, Matisse's creativity took over and he developed a new art form in his 70's called cut outs, or painting with scissors. Basically he used paper and scissors and with those two things created amazing masterpieces (for a photo of Matisse with his cutouts: http://www.henri-matisse.net/cut_outs.html)! If you have never seen a Matisse cut out in a museum, I encourage you to find one! They are wall sized, NOT canvas sized! They are beyond impressive. 

In any case, the children had the opportunity to make their own cut outs today! I supplied them each with a blank piece of foam core and precut papers. I tried to cut creatively, and many of the papers were cut in Matisse like shapes! Below you will see a few of the finished products!

It is hard to capture how vibrant and beautiful this actually looks!











These 3 examples really caught my attention. I am not sure if it is the vibrant colors or the layout each of the children chose. But these three examples are quite lovely because the white foam core seems so evenly filled up with color and there seems to be a picture emerging. 




The creator of this masterpiece told me she loves art! In fact, when she comes home from school she likes to create and do art projects. 


I ended the lesson with pain au chocolat! In other words, I made croissants stuffed with chocolate. Given that Matisse was from France, I always try to do a themed snack! Needless to say, the snack was devoured! 

April 22, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2007. We took Mattie to the National Arboretum. Something we did every year around Mattie's birthday. My joke was that the azaleas were timed to bloom in celebration of Mattie's birthday. He seemed to like that notion and I must admit to this day, whenever I see an azalea bush, I think of the conversations Mattie and I used to have about them being gifts timed with his birthday.


Quote of the day: I'm a slow walker, but I never walk back. ~ Abraham Lincoln


Today was another busy Walk planning day. I had a walk meeting with a few of my core team members who are helping me with promoting the walk team concept and encouraging our supporters withing the community to sign up to walk as part of a team. I even have our postal employee (Darryl) who works at our Mattie Miracle PO Box office interested in the Foundation and wanting to know how he can help out. Darryl has helped me throughout the years with my December mass mailings and then he was transferred to another post office. I literally lost his help for two years. When that happened I was devastated. But now he is back and he says he isn't leaving! Needless to say, in his spare time he has chosen to distribute walk flyers for me. Got to love him, no??? This is what makes him so special. The post office needs to clone him. 

Later in the day I returned to Mattie's school to set up for the second kindergarten art session, which will take place tomorrow. But of course the rest of the day, I was dealing with walk registrations, walk team questions, permitting issues, and other plans. I thought I was done with permits, but as is typical with the permitting office.... I AM NOT done. I even went down to City Hall and paid the permitting fees on Monday. However, now they tell me that I have to file a BUILDING PERMIT for moon bounces! I don't know if you find this has hysterical as I do, but I have learned to stop asking and just comply. I knew in the past that I had to file such a permit for a rock climbing wall, but for a moon bounce..... well that is a new one to me! 

I end tonight's posting with this wonderful photo of Ellie's Mattie Miracle themed flower pots. Each year Ellie, who went to preschool with Mattie, comes to the Walk with one of the crafts she brainstorms, creates and sells to attendees. Ellie donates 100% of her proceeds to the Foundation. For the past three years Ellie has been our top teen vendor at the Walk! These flower pots are the crafts Ellie will be featuring at this year's Walk! My good friend and colleague, Nancy, is already the proud recipient of an Ellie flower pot and has bought two additional ones for her grandchildren! I agree with Nancy, they make beautiful and meaningful gifts, especially when you read the little note Ellie created with the Forget me Not seeds attached.

April 21, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 -- Mattie died 293 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2007. It is funny that I should come across this photo tonight since Peter and I just saw Luray Caverns advertised on TV the other night. Of course when we saw the ad, all we could think of was our one time trip there with Mattie when he was five years old. It left a lasting impression on us, for many reasons. Of course the natural wonders of the caverns themselves, but also because of Mattie's reaction to what he was seeing and his inquisitiveness and desire to explore. Yet as you can see Mattie also had a healthy cautious side and when he deemed something as eerie (as part of the caverns clearly were!) up he went!  


Quote of the day: The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability. ~ Simon Mainwaring


I can safely say that permits are successfully filed for the Foundation's Walk! That is always a massive relief. I went to visit the health department today to file our application for the food permit for our Walk. Then from that point on, it was just non-stop Walk activities. Later on in the afternoon, I went to Peter's office because we had to take a conference call with the Alliance for Childhood Cancer. In January, we applied to the Alliance to become a member organization. The Alliance for Childhood Cancer represents more than twenty national patient advocacy groups and professional  medical and scientific organizations. The Alliance was created in 2001 to advocate on behalf of children with cancer. Patient advocates, many of whom are either cancer survivors themselves or are parents of children with cancer, are joined by health care professionals in a unique alliance that brings concerned parties together to advance the interests of children with cancer. Specifically the mission is to advance research and policies to prevent cancer, and improve public education, and the diagnosis, treatment, supportive care and survivorship of children and adolescents with cancer.

Based on Mattie Miracle's national psychosocial agenda, we have felt that it has been important to join forces with the Alliance and have a unified voice. However, joining the Alliance is not a simple process. The application is rigorous and I would say we as a Foundation have reached a certain point in our development where we were now ready to make the leap to apply. But just because one applies doesn't mean, one will get accepted. However, at 2:15pm the phone rang in Peter's office and Matt (the membership chair of the Alliance) let me know the good news. Mattie Miracle was unanimously voted into the alliance as an organization! We are deeply honored and thrilled. For more information on the Alliance for Childhood Cancer:

http://www.allianceforchildhoodcancer.org/


My friend Mary posted this wonderful photo on her Facebook page! She and her daughters, Emily and Abby, went around town today posting Mattie Miracle Walk flyers on stores. Mary has helped me with advertising for the Walk for years. 














This is a snapshot of our Top teams and walkers so far from our Walk Website. We are thrilled to see so many teams forming and such great fundraising progress being made. Considering this is our first year establishing walk teams, our supporters are catching on to this new Walk concept and truly helping us reach our goal!



April 20, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2007. We took Mattie down to the Washington National Mall to see the cherry trees in bloom. As you can see this made for a very beautiful backdrop for this photo. However, this was one of Mattie's typical looks when he complied with a photo but did not really want to be taking one. He was used to plenty of these moments with me, but thankfully despite his disinterest at times, we captured many special moments we had together.



Quote of the day: Inspiration is always a surprising visitor.John O'Donohue


Today was another full day of Walk preparation. The Walk is a full time job and then some. Planning the Walk in any given year is an enormous task, but in a year when I decide to revamp the event, that makes it three times more challenging. It is more challenging because everyone is used to the Walk being a certain way. Change is hard. Getting used to a new concept.... from the registration process to the fact that we are asking people to get involved this year and help us fundraise takes time, being on hand to answer questions from supporters, and at times walk people through the actual process to get them started. Started with creating a Walk team, building their own fundraising webpage, and also how to go about soliciting friends and family for funds. These are all new skills we are asking our supporters to use this year. However, these are vital to the health and development of the Foundation. The promotional awareness of the Foundation and fundraising can't only come from me. Ironically what I am seeing is that many of our supporters really like this challenge. They like the spirit of competition to raise money for a good cause, and to see which walk team can possibly raise the most funds for the Foundation. 

Later this afternoon, I took a break from the computer and went to Alexandria City Hall to finalize my Walk permits. This year I was able to do most of the application process through emails. Thanks to the contacts I have developed in the permit office over the past several years. Therefore when I went in today, I only had to pay the fees because the application was already completed and filed. I am very thankful to Sandra and Tara for streamlining the process for me, and I even wrote to their boss tonight to commend them for their outstanding service. It was my best experience in the permit office yet! However, the reason I am showing you this photo of our orange Mattie Miracle bags is because while driving through old town Alexandria I saw a woman in the distance carrying an orange recyclable bag. The color caught my eye, but I figured there are a ton of orange bags around, so it probably wasn't a Mattie Miracle bag. To my surprise, as I got closer to this woman and I looked at the logo, it was indeed a Mattie Miracle bag! I did not know the carrier of the bag, but as tonight's quote says... inspiration can sometimes be a surprise visitor! Seeing this bag on the streets of Alexandria perked me up today.  

April 19, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004. Mattie was two years old and what I love about this photo was this was classic Mattie. It showed his eclectic side! It wasn't unusual for Mattie to walk around our home in pajamas. Mattie preferred them because they were comfortable and he liked their texture. However, to me the backwards hat was hysterical! Also seconds after this photo was taken Mattie had the American flag in one hand and his sippy cup of milk in the other hand. It was a true sight to see, coming from a little ball of energy. 




Quote of the day: My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. Claude Monet


Today was another busy day for Peter and me from chores to gardening! We first went to visit Mattie's tree. We planted two different kinds of bulbs around Mattie's tree in the Fall and it is wonderful to see the bulbs popping through in stages this Spring. A few weeks ago we first saw the crocus and now the daffodils are in bloom. Mattie's yellow/orange butterfly that I placed around his tree for his birthday had a bit of a casualty. One of its wings were severed off somehow. So when I got to the School, I found the butterfly flopping on the tree. I was determined to keep the butterfly on the tree and to make it work, so I reconfigured the remaining wings and retied the bow around the butterfly. 

We also visited the upper school campus of Mattie's school. This is where the Foundation's Walk is held every May. We went to this campus because we are trying to figure out some set up and logistical Walk concerns. 

Then the remainder of the day was spent purchasing plants and cleaning up our deck space from a very harsh winter. We are saddened that the majority of our perennials have all died. All of Peter's wonderful knock out roses have died. We just can't get over it, because Peter's roses were beautiful and they have historically come back every spring. We got a good jump on planting today, but there is still a lot more to do, not to mention the fact that we have to paint our deck every Spring.