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

May 23, 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken on Memorial Day of 2006. We took Mattie to Sesame Street Place in Pennsylvania. That day the Park had a wonderful Memorial Day parade, filled with service men and women from all branches of the military. The music, the uniforms, and the tradition and honor on display were extremely touching and memorable. It captured the hearts and minds of all ages present. After the parade Mattie managed to obtain two Elmo balloons. One we purchased for him and the other was given to him by Elmo himself! Mattie was one happy and tired camper by the time we left the Park. 


Quote of the day: Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. ~ Mark Twain


I will continue the Foundation Walk Photo postings in the next day or so, but today I wanted to share some other photos with you!


This morning we sat outside on our deck and had breakfast. While we were outside, we had an amazing Mattie Sighting! This beautiful fellow came to sit on our deck and spent some time with us, he even posed for a photo! Ironically this butterfly has Mattie Miracle colors in it too!














This butterfly was sitting with us in our garden, as if he knew we would be there and that this was a safe place for him. To me it was beyond coincidence! 

















Being that it is Memorial Day weekend, it also means that Rolling Thunder is in town!!! Rolling Thunder is a tradition in Washington, DC, over the Memorial Day weekend in which over 900,000 motorcycles gather to do a "ride for freedom" from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The ride originated in 1988, as a march/demonstration designed to hold the government accountable for all POW/MIAs. Rolling Thunder will continue until each POW/MIA is accounted for and if you have never experienced Rolling Thunder, all I can say is it is unforgettable. Especially the SOUND! When you put thousands of motorcycles together it indeed sounds like thunder. 


If I had to entitle this photo, it would be "Tree or motorcycle?" Mainly because we are practically losing sight of the trees in the sea of motorcycles! I can't impress upon you the sight and sound this produces in our neighborhood. It is impressive and overwhelming at the same time. We know that whatever we want to accomplish, it must be done today, because we can't drive at all in the city on Sunday! 

As Monday approaches may we remember the brave individuals who died while serving in the Country's armed forces to secure our freedoms and their family members who are left behind to contend with this loss.

May 22, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2002. Mattie was two months old and as you can see he was already in a very contemplative state, even at that early age! It looks as if Mattie was staring off at something in the distance, as to try to assess and analyze it! Meanwhile, the expression on Peter's face was just as priceless... that of a proud dad!


Quote of the day: The significance of a man is not in what he attains but in what he longs to attain.Kahlil Gibran


Tonight's Foundation Walk photos feature our raffle! Within our Walk, we have a raffle. Running a raffle is actually another full time job because it takes time soliciting companies and organizations for items, staging these items in baskets, and then wrapping them. Not to mention advertising the raffle and selling tickets. Thankfully I have a devoted and dedicated raffle chair, Carolyn, who has been helping the Foundation with our raffle for the last six years! Carolyn keeps us organized, running efficiently, and contributes greatly to our success. Carolyn also maintains our data on ticket sales from year to year and thanks to her handiwork, I am proud to report that we sold 1,900 raffle tickets this year and the raffle generated $6,060! This $6,060 goes toward our overall Walk goal, and therefore contributed to the $78,389 fundraising total. 

We had nine wonderful raffle baskets on display this year and the raffle tent was well visited at the Walk!










The lady on the left with the white t-shirt is Carolyn, our Raffle Chair. The lady in pink on the right is Tricia. Tricia was Mattie's favorite HEM/ONC nurse. Tricia and her family comes to our Walk every year. It is a tradition. Tricia helped us call the raffle this year. She was reaching into the box to pick out a winning ticket so that Peter could then announce who won one of the raffle baskets!


This is Mark. Mark won our "Dining Around Town" raffle basket. 













This is Robin and her family. Robin won the "DC and the Arts" raffle basket.




















This is Gavin and Gavin won our "Money Tree" raffle basket.

We congratulate all 9 of our raffle winners! The beauty of our raffle is you do not need to be present at the end of our event to win. Therefore, we will be hand delivering baskets this week to several of our winners. 


May 21, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2002. Mattie was two months old. I remember those days and I am quite sure Mattie was MORE alert than me back then, because I was truly sleep deprived. How Mattie could function on such little sleep always perplexed me. As a new mom, I was under some delusion that babies naturally slept! But Mattie taught me that sleep doesn't come naturally to some and in fact sleep is a skill that must be taught and learned.


Quote of the day: Heroes didn't leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn't wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else's. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back. ~ Jodi Picoult


Tonight's Foundation Walk photos will highlight some of our teams at the event! Mattie Miracle is truly proud of our 17 Walk teams, who in total raised over $22,000 for the Foundation!!!

As an aside, this year Mattie Miracle had a total redesign of its Walk t- shirt! We are getting a lot of POSITIVE feedback about the new look and COLOR! People really loved the sunshine orange color!




Here is a photo of the team Peter and I created....... Team Mattie Moon! 

pictured from left to right are:
Toni (Brandon's mom -- Mattie's big buddy who battled cancer at the same time as Mattie), Ashley and her daughter Gigi (Ashley is Brandon's sister, and Gigi and Mattie share the same birth date -- April 4th!), Virginia (Mattie's Grammie), Jim (Brandon's dad), Vicki, Peter, Attila (Co-Founder of the Chris Lantos Foundation), Barbara (Mattie's Grandma), and Ilona (Co-Founder of the Chris Lantos Foundation)


This is "Team RCC Moms Rock." This team won the award for Top Team Fundraiser! They raised $5,000 for Mattie Miracle!!! RCC is the acronym for Resurrection Children's Center, the preschool Mattie attended! Many of the moms from this preschool are friends of mine, they were vital to Team Mattie when Mattie was battling cancer, and now they are dedicated volunteers of the Foundation. 

This is "Team KW and Friends." Comprised of members of Mattie's kindergarten class as well as members of the St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School community. The lady you see holding the "KW" sign was Mattie's kindergarten teacher! This energetic team won the "Spirit" Award at the Walk.


This is "Team Flames." The flames come to us from the Holy Spirit School in Annandale, VA! They came filled with team spirit, smiles, and eager to participate and fill the challenge wall with cups! Members of the Holy Spirit community were new to our Walk this year and we were thrilled to have them   participating and hope they continue to be a part of our Mattie Miracle family. 

This is "Team Blessed Sacrament Bullfrogs." This team comes from the Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria, VA. This team won the Challenge Cup Walk! They walked the most number of laps around the track and placed the largest number of cups in the challenge wall! This is Blessed Sacrament's first year participating in our Walk and Mattie Miracle hopes that their community will continue to be a part of our event for years to come. 

This is "The Book Club Team." This team raised $4,566 for the Foundation, and Peggy Elkind (second from the right), won the top individual adult fundraising award. Peggy raised $2,987!
We are very proud of Peggy and the entire team and we hope to welcome The Book Club back to next year's Walk! 


This is the "Charity Through Medicine Team." This group is very involved with Mattie Miracle as they plan social activities throughout the year at Georgetown University Hospital for in-patient children who are coping with life threatening and long term illnesses. All of these students from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, VA are interested in a career in medicine and therefore are part of this specialized Club at their school. In addition, to their community service work throughout the year, this group also volunteered at the Mattie Miracle Walk! So they are NO STRANGERS to the Foundation!

May 20, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2002. Mattie was one month old. When I look at this photo Mattie looks so peaceful, one would think that perhaps Mattie was a baby that was always this calm, sleepy, and sedate. But I assure you this was a very rare moment in time. Mattie was born on and for the most part rarely napped even as an infant. It was almost as if he was hard wired to appreciate every aspect of life because his body knew he wasn't going to be here long enough to enjoy it from a longevity standpoint. 


Quote of the day: The things we truly love stay with us always, locked in our hearts as long as life remains. ~ Josephine Baker



The series of photos I am featuring tonight are challenge wall cups from the Foundation's Walk. We launched a whole new concept this year at the Walk. We asked people within our support community to create walk teams. Which meant that the team had to have a captain and team members who were willing to fundraise and build awareness for the psychosocial issues associated with childhood cancer as well as promote the mission of Mattie Miracle. Then on the day of the Walk, teams and individuals attended to participate in our Challenge Walk. Each team was assigned a cup color. For each lap walked, a colorful cup was earned. The cup was placed within our challenge wall, and the goal was to see which team completed the most number of laps (or essence earned the largest number of cups by the end of our event).  As this poster indicates, each team was assigned a particular cup color. 



Some walk teams dressed in certain colors, or used signs and headbands to identify themselves! As walkers moved around the track, they eventually came to our cup distribution table......








Here is a close up of our rainbow of cups at our cup distribution table. Literally walkers completed a lap and then walked passed this table, picked up their designated colored cup, and carried it over to the challenge wall.





We had some wonderful local high school students helping us distribute cups to our walkers. These young ladies are no strangers to Mattie Miracle, since they have volunteered with us in the past! The young girl on the left is Haley Leis, and she is our top teen fundraiser this year, who generated $1,478 for the Foundation! 


This photo makes me laugh! Apparently there is more than one thing you can do with this colorful cup! Maybe it is a telephone?! You never know!! He clearly wanted to check before placing the cup in the challenge wall! Too adorable. 
















Once a walker picked up a colorful cup, the next step was to walk it over to our challenge wall! Which was literally the chain link fence. Volunteers would accept the cup and then help place it in the chain link. As you can see the fence started slowly accumulating cups throughout the event. While cups were accumulating, we had another team of dedicated students tallying cup colors to tell us which teams were walking the most laps throughout the event! 

Peter is pictured here with Emily. Emily is a nursing student at Georgetown University and she was a dedicate challenge wall tallier at the Walk! Which is no easy task, because it is very easy to lose track of what color cup you are counting and to screw up the process. But Emily kept us organized, running efficiently, and with accurate tallies!  

You can get a feeling for what the challenge wall
looked like completed! Also, along the wall we literally spelled out in big block letters "CHALLENGE WALL" in orange!






Here is a photo of some of the members of the team who won the challenge wall competition.....The Blessed Sacrament Bullfrogs! The Bullfrogs walked the most laps, which meant they placed the largest number of cups in the Challenge Wall! Way to go Bullfrogs. 

May 19, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 -- Mattie died 297 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken on May 5 of 2002, almost one month after Mattie was born. We took Mattie out for fresh air with Peter's parents and family. They gave him this cute beanie rabbit and as you can see Mattie was trying desperately to focus upon it and to engage with it. I will never forget that day, because the town of Arlington was celebrating Cinco de Mayo, and I was so out of it with a newborn, I did not know which end was up from exhaustion and no sleep. 


Quote of the day: Generosity consists not of the sum given, but the manner in which it is bestowed. ~ Mahatma Gandhi



Peter and I received our professional Walk photos today from Herman, the Foundation's photographer. I am slowing combing through them, but in Herman's typical fashion, he did a great job capturing the energy and feeling for the event! As I told him he is my eyes for the event, because I am so busy talking to people that I would say I miss a good 85% of what is actually happening at the Walk. I observe snippets of things, but Herman's snapshots are an excellent reminder for me! 

The photo above is a wonderful banner shot that was taken literally right before our "Mattie Miracle" Level Corporate Sponsor ($5000 level) sounded the horn to begin the Walk! It was a colorful start!!!

and the walk began..........












Once the walk was underway around the track, participants were able to view our 26 Faces of Hope posters. These are faces of children or teens who are either in treatment or are survivors of childhood cancer. We reminded our walkers that 46 children a day are diagnosed with cancer and that they are walking for children like the ones they see in the posters. Particularly to help meet their psychosocial needs because these needs are vital throughout the treatment journey. However, they are also crucial post-treatment into survivorship, and these faces should always remind us that cancer and its affects do not end ONCE THE TREATMENT DOES! 

I love this photo because to me it captures the faces of walkers who were touched by what they were seeing and reading on the posters in front of them. They were looking at the Faces of Hope posters while doing the Challenge Walk around the track!

I am signing off for tonight because I will need a few days to catch up on rest, before I really can dig through the photos and present them in a logical order. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying the progression of photos I am sharing with you. 

May 18, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday,  May 18, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2008. Literally only two months before Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. To me, Mattie looked like the picture of health and NOTHING was bothering him at that point. He had NO SYMPTOMS. Who on earth would have guessed how profoundly our world would have changed by July of that year? As you can see here, Mattie was on our deck designing one of his play schemes. Mattie's inventions were always creative, yet functional! Typically hot wheel cars were involves and because we were on the deck, I have no doubt that Mattie incorporated a water element into the scene. 


Quote of the day: Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.Harriet Tubman


I am profoundly tired today and most likely will be for the next week or so. As we await the photos from our professional photographer, I am very grateful that friends posted Walk photos on their Facebook sites and even shared them us! I am passing along some of the great photos captured by supporters at our event. What I love about this photo is it captures the ominous  clouds above. There was a threat of intense rain all day long. We had many close calls on Sunday with the weather! Where it looked like we were going to get a terrible storm! But in true Mattie fashion, he made sure that it wouldn't rain on Walk day!!! As usual he did not disappoint! The photo also captures the wonderful visual that the challenge cup wall produced this year! People earned a colorful cup per lap, which then got placed in the chain link wall! There were 17 Walk teams, and each team was assigned a unique color. Non-team walkers also received a color!

Before the Walk began, Peter and I both gave a greeting and you will notice there are ladies behind us with Hawaiian Leis on. By the way I flew the leis in from Oahu! I explained that an orchid lei was chosen because the orchid is a flower that is unique and distinctive. Just like the 11 women being honored. These 11 outstanding Mattie Miracle workers contributed to the fundraising and leadership of this year's Walk and we feel they deserved to be acknowledged and celebrated! They are:

1. Peggy Lampl Elkind
2. Rebecca Jacks Fischer
3. Charlotte Gehrs
4. Ali Sharkey Goldwater
5. Ann Henshaw
6. Debbie Wood Keefe
7. Haley Leis
8. Christina Savage Lytle
9. Carolyn McFadden
10. Jane Pisano
11. Patricia Tilch



Pictured from left to right are Toni, Vicki, Gigi, and Ashley. Toni is Brandon's mom, Ashley is Brandon's sister, and Gigi is Brandon's niece. 

Mattie was very close to Brandon and called him his "best friend." Brandon was diagnosed with cancer around the same time as Mattie and they went through their treatments together. Mattie felt that Brandon understood him. Brandon's family comes to the Walk every year and Brandon's niece and Mattie share the same birthday date...... April 4th!

Summary of the awards given out at the Walk. We congratulate all our teams for their amazing fundraising and advocacy work they did on behalf of childhood cancer and Mattie Miracle.......................

1. Top Adult Individual Fundraiser Award: Peggy Elkind ($2,987)

2. Top Teen Individual Fundraiser Award: Haley Leis ($1,478)


3. Top Team Fundraising Award: RCC Moms Rock ($4,947)


4. Team with Largest Number of Registered Participants: Blessed Sacrament Bullfrogs


5. Team Spirit Award: KW & Friends


6. Challenge Wall Winners (team with most laps walked): Blessed Sacrament Bullfrogs

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009, during the Mattie March. Which was the walk Mattie's care community planned for him. At this event, Mattie had the opportunity to meet the baseball team at the school and fist pump each one of the students. He also received a signed baseball from the team. It was a day to remember!


Quote of the day: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.Winston Churchill


It is now after midnight, and I can safely say it has been a full day from the Walk! We had a very successful day and when I receive our photos from the photographer, I will be posting and sharing them! But the wonderful news is as of tonight, the grand fundraising total is $77,845! We thank our supporters and volunteers for making this Mattie Miracle possible.