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

June 6, 2015

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2002. Mattie was seven months old. Next to Mattie was our cat, Patches. Patches understood from day one that she had to behavior around Mattie. I never had to worry that she was going to scratch him or bother him in any way. Which was amazing, because it took a while for Mattie to learn that he couldn't grab at Patches fur or pull her tail. But even when he did this, she never retaliated. She was a loyal family member, which maybe why as Mattie got older and had friends who would visit us that did not know how to act around a cat, he made it his business to show them. He would tell his friends outright.... "you can't run around after Patches, you can't chase after her tail, pull her fur, etc...." Mattie and Patches were buddies. 


Quote of the day: In the end what gets people through a physical or emotional crisis is not new technology or medication. Those things can help of course. But it's faith that gives you the strength to endure-- faith that won't allow you to give up; faith that manifests itself in a ferocious determination to take the text step-- the one that everyone else says is impossible. ~ Bob Dole


Peter and I went on a six mile walk of DC today. Given that it has been grey, raining, and cool all week, today's warmer weather and sunshine was a welcomed change! We passed the Washington Monument on the way to our final destination..... the American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial.


After the monument, we then walked through the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. 



The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden offers a relaxing, year-round setting in which to enjoy works of modern sculpture. Occupying 6.1 acres between 7th and 9th Streets on Constitution Avenue, the Sculpture Garden was designed by landscape architect Laurie Olin, and opened in 1999. At its center the space features a monumental fountain that converts to an ice-skating rink in the winter. The Sculpture Garden fulfills the centuries-old intentions of Charles Pierre L’Enfant, who, in his designs for The Mall in the 1790s, included a public, landscaped garden on the north side of Washington, DC’s 8th Street.

Some of the sculptures in the Garden are a RIOT! I know Mattie used to get a kick out of them!!!!


Typewriter eraser (1998)
In the mid-1960s, Claes Oldenburg began to visualize public monuments based on common objects, such as a clothespin or a pair of scissors, instead of historical figures or events. The artist chose the (now obsolete) typewriter eraser as his model for this work based upon childhood memories of playing with the object in his father’s office. In the late 1960s and 1970s he used the eraser as a source for drawings, prints, sculpture, and even a never-realized monument for New York City. Here the giant brush arcs back, conveying a sense of motion, as if the wheel-like eraser were rolling down the hill and making its way toward the gate of the garden.



Spider (1996)
Louise Bourgeois used the spider as the central protagonist in her art during the last decades of her life. For the artist, whose work explored themes of childhood memory and loss, the spider carried associations of a maternal figure. Bourgeois associated the “Spider” series with her own mother, who died when the artist was 21. From drawings to large-scale installations, Bourgeois’s spiders appear as looming and powerful protectresses, yet are nurturing, delicate, and vulnerable.


"The Graft" by Roxy Paine is a 45 foot high and 45 foot wide steel tree! It weighs 16,000 pounds. It shines, but clearly doesn't blend in the garden with the other trees! You can't miss it.


















After our stroll through the sculpture gardens, we moved along to the US Botanical Gardens (en route to get to the Memorial).


Construction on the National Garden began in October 2001. Five years later, the National Garden opened to the public on October 1, 2006. It provides living laboratories for environmental, horticultural and botanical education in a contemplative setting. The National Garden is the result of a successful collaboration among the U.S. Congress, the Joint Committee on the Library, the National Fund for the U.S. Botanic Garden, the U.S. Botanic Garden and the Architect of the Capitol.





Within the National Garden is this wonderful little stream of water with all sorts of birds bathing. 




















It was like a staging area for birds in the garden. They had their bathing zone, and then this was the drying area! This Robin was clearly drying out after bathing in the stream. 









This is the rose garden. But there are all different types of gardens one could meander through such as a butterfly garden.













Recently when Peter and I were watching the Memorial Day concert on TV, they made mention to the American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial. A Memorial I had never heard of, and I did not even know it had been built in the city. Peter and I were both very moved by its description and we therefore felt compelled to find out where it was located and to visit it today. I am so happy we made this decision. I have to say it is by far one of the most moving memorials I have visited to date. This architectural group clearly put a great deal of time and thought into honoring those who have served and who have come back wounded. Not just physically wounded but also psychologically wounded. In fact the whole space that the memorial sits in is a sensory experience. Though I am not a veteran, and I mean no disrespect in saying this, this memorial was deeply moving to me as well. Not only because it honors those who have served but I feel it captures the feelings of trauma and horrors of living with what has been experienced so beautifully and the grief of living with that constant loss. As I was walking in this memorial, I felt that the quotes and messages expressed were so applicable to my own life and losing Mattie. As I have said often, the pediatric intensive care unit was our battle field. Again, I do not equate war and childhood cancer. I realize they are different, but survivors of trauma nonetheless understand each other, and as I walked through today's memorial I had a deep appreciation of what these survivors and their families members constantly endure. 



On Veterans Day in 2002, the Disabled Veterans’ Life Memorial Foundation launched a design competition for The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. Twenty renowned architecture and landscape architecture firms were invited to participate. Michael Vergason Landscape Architects was selected the following July, based on the design concept that is now near the U.S. Capitol.

Vergason, whose work can also be seen at the National Cathedral, the U.S. Supreme Court, Monticello, the U.S. Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, and his alma mater, the University of Virginia, envisioned a hallowed place amid the bustle of the surrounding Washington streets. His design was meant expressly for its audience – disabled veterans, their loved ones and caretakers – who would now have a place for commemoration and quiet reflection within a grove of trees framed by granite and glass walls, punctuated by a ceremonial flame and a reflecting pool.


I have never been to a memorial in which an OPEN FLAME is present! It sits in the middle of this fountain. It operates 24 hours a day. I have to admit I wondered about the safety concerns of this! But of course they figured that out........


Technifex designed a durable and secure system with an easy-to-operate control touchpad. The flame is built to the same high standards used in a theme park attractions. For the safety of children, adults and animals, Technifex designed a gas cut-off feature triggered by pressure pads built into the display’s stainless steel framework. Any weight put on the system will automatically stop the gas flow and turn off the flame. California-based Technifex was founded in 1984, and is the special effects designer for Walt Disney Imagineering.


There is a star-shaped fountain, embedded into a broad reflecting pool. Used throughout American history to honor, recognize, reward and represent our highest aspirations, this strong focal point structures the site. At its center, the ceremonial flame – the fire – embodies the elemental forces of injury, loss and renewal, and emerges from the water as a reminder of the hope that springs from perseverance in the face of adversity.


There are two large walls that greet visitors. Each wall has a quote. Here is the first one:

Each of you bears upon his body the permanent, honorable scars of dangerous service. Service rendered in order that our great nation might continue to live according to the expressed will of its own citizens. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower



Here is the second quote:

Before I conclude the subject of public justice, I cannot omit to mention the obligations this country is under, to that meritorious class of veteran non-commissioned officers and privates, who have been discharged for inability.... nothing could be more melancholy and distressing sight, than to behold those who have shed their blood or lost their limbs in the service of their country. ~ George Washington


Here is what the overall site looks like. Trees, a water element, and glass panels and bronze sculptures. The amazing part about all of this is you are standing in the heart of the city. Yet when in the memorial, it feels quite peaceful. 








The glass panels are very moving. The architect felt carving images and statements into glass would make the display more meaningful, since glass evokes more transparency and disclosure rather than stone. This panel got to me.... "In war, there are NO unwounded soldiers." This is true on every level. Whether one dies, comes back physically injured, and/or with psychological issues. That is just the soldier, but as the panel so beautifully illustrates, families are also permanently transformed. 


On this same panel above is this quote.....
How is a life replaced - the companionship, nurturing, love and support of a husband and father. We were totally unprepared for and were devastated by years of illness. ~ Joan McCarthy

This is a quote clearly from a wife who got her husband's physical body back from war, but clearly the ramifications on their marriage and their family life devastated them for years to come. 







Here is another meaningful and life transforming quote from another panel:

It's possible for a man to lose half of his physical being and still become whole. Before I lost my limbs I was only half a man. Now I've developed some humility. I can look at the average person and understand him where before I looked only at myself. ~ Theodore Strong, Jr. 












This quote speaks to the psychological ramifications of battle! We all can see the physical and for the most part society understands and accepts this much better. We mobilize into action to support physical healing. But psychological healing is something that we still struggle with as a society. We do not always know how to help our average citizen much less one coming back from a war or dealing with another trauma. 

I felt a special compassion for these young men with torn-up faces. The wounds one could see were often less severe than the psychological injuries they brought with them. My heart went out to each of them. ~ Martha Cameron




To me this was the ultimate glass panel! It resonated with me.

In the end what gets people through a physical or emotional crisis is not new technology or medication. Those things can help of course. But it's faith that gives you the strength to endure-- faith that won't allow you to give up; faith that manifests itself in a ferocious determination to take the text step-- the one that everyone else says is impossible. ~ Bob Dole



In addition to the glass panels, there are then four cast bronze sculptural panels with reverse glass silhouettes. Large images of veterans and those who care for them emerge or bloom within the translucent glass. These images are asymmetrically paired with the cutout bronze figures. There are themes in each of the four sculptures.

Sculpture: "Call to Duty and Pride in Service"





Sculpture: "Trauma of injury"













Sculpture: "Healing"
















Sculpture: "Renewal of Purpose"


The Memorial is located at: 150 Washington Ave., SW Washington, DC 20024

Memorial Website 

June 5, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2002. Mattie was seven months old and doing what he loved best.... trying to walk. Mattie never crawled and he did not like sitting still either. He always wanted to be up on his feet and moving. I can't tell you how many laps we did around our home!!!



Quote of the day: It has been said that time heals all wounds, I don't agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but is never gone. ~ Rose Kennedy


For the past THREE weeks, I have shared our amazing Walk photos with you. It is my hope that our blog readers have enjoyed them. Whether you were at our event, or weren't able to participate, it is my hope that these photos gave you a good feeling for the full nature of the fun, spirit, and energy of the day. I want to share a last set of photos with you tonight and end by saying THANK YOU once again to all our supporters for making our over $78,000 miracle possible.


When entering our event, the first thing one sees is our Registration Tent! Attendees are greeted with our orange tablecloths, a large photo of Mattie, our sponsor posters and our Schedule of Events. In addition, what makes registration work so effectively are our dedicated volunteers. The lady sitting, is Jennifer. Jennifer has worked registration for us for six years now. She is very dedicated, efficient, and committed to making our day run smoothly. Next to Jennifer is Linda. Linda has been volunteering with Mattie Miracle now for two years and was instrumental to our Registration process this year. Linda and Jennifer greeted attendees, processed everyone into the event, distributed t-shirts and programs, and also accepted donations to the Foundation on the day of the event. So the logistics of what needed to happen at registration is a large task and therefore needs to be managed by an effective team. 

At the end of the day, when we were ALL exhausted (putting it into perspective, Peter got to campus at 5:45am and the clean up ended for us at 5pm) I had this photo taken of us with the registration team. From left to right: Peter, Jennifer, Vicki, Linda, and Mark

This beautiful lady is Junko. Junko is our volunteer coordinator. She has helped me coordinate our volunteers on the day of the Walk for the last six years. This is no easy task because we had 70 volunteers to keep track of this year. Junko greets our volunteers on the day of the event, hands each volunteer a name tag, directs them to assignments, and at the end of the day will even sign community service hour forms for students. 










These are what the volunteer name tags look like! 













There is a story behind these lacrosse gloves! I just learned about it yesterday! When I received our Walk photos, and came across this photo in our raffle tent, I have to admit I was perplexed. Perplexed because I work with Carolyn, our raffle chair, to raffle and showcase the raffle. So I honestly had no idea where this item came from on the day of our event! 

On Thursday, Debbie, our child activities coordinator told me the story behind the gloves! A graduate, Isaiah Davis-Allen, of Mattie's school is now attending the University of Maryland and is on the University's Lacrosse Team. Isaiah has attended Foundation Walks in the past and this year wanted to do something to help raise funds for the Foundation. So he and his team mates signed these gloves and decided to raffle them off at our Walk. We are very honored to have the support of Isaiah and that of the University of Maryland's Lacrosse Team. 

I am ending tonight's blog with two photos that capture our new Walk addition.... the Challenge Cup Wall!!! This is a view of the cups from the side that the volunteers (who are counting them) see them! There were volunteers counting cup colors to keep walkers posted as to which teams were in the lead and therefore doing the most laps around the track. 

To me the Challenge Wall was a wonderfully colorful visual that showed our progress throughout the day. It is on this positive note that I started our Walk photo display and now three weeks later I end on this same photo


June 4, 2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2002. Mattie was seven months old and was always intrigued by books. He loved looking at the pictures and hearing stories. Mattie loved to be talked to, to hear conversations, and wanted to be a part of all engagements with people. In kindergarten, his teachers thought it was a riot that he would use words like.... "apparently" and make observations of others and so forth. But in so many ways, I think Mattie was very sensitive to his environment, to those around him, and in a way understood he on some level he did not have much time with us, and therefore really packed a lot into his seven short years with us. 


Quote of the day: Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way. ~ Abraham Lincoln




This morning as I was working at my desk in Mattie's room, I happened to look away from my computer and out the window. To my amazement, I saw this beautiful Gold Finch. I can assure you that such a sight is very unusual on our deck. 

On Tuesday when I went to Georgetown Hospital and bumped into Jey, "Mattie's big brother" he was telling me his philosophy on birds. He feels that birds are the one constant in our lives. That no matter what season it is, every morning they greet us and are outside singing away. That is quite true. To Jey, he thinks about birds as being our deceased loved ones talking to us. It was a beautiful visual. Since I am the dedicated bird woman for our complex, feeding hundreds of birds in the winter, I relate to this notion that Jey shared with me. In any case, as I saw this gold finch today, I couldn't help but think about what Jey told me and of course think about Mattie. It was an unusual bird to see in the city and I feel this bright and bold cutie was sending me a message.

Tonight's pictures from the Foundation Walk feature a few spirit type walk photos. During the challenge walk, our DJ played a few songs like YMCA and the chicken dance in which we encouraged people to act silly while walking around the track and doing their laps. As you can see from this group of women, they had their hands up in the air to symbolize the "Y" in YMCA! 

This young girl was captured showing her spirit during the "chicken dance" song! I am not sure what I love better, her smile or her flapping!
















This photo says it all...... I love the chicken flapping! Now that is spirit!!! 




















This is Grace and Christopher. Grace is a mom that I know from Mattie's preschool. She is also the mom of Abbie. I posted of photo of Abbie on last night's blog holding a caterpillar she found on the track in Mattie's honor!

Grace was doing her "Y" during the YMCA spirit song around the track!



Though this isn't a spirit photo, I happen to love it. It captures a different type of spirit! Peter was carrying our fresh Hawaiian leis (flowers which we gave to our 11 Mattie Miracle workers, women who were our top fundraisers at the Walk) across the track and our photographer snapped this photo. 














In attendance at our Walk was Dr. Lori Wiener and her husband, Sylvan. Lori heads our National Psychosocial Standards of Care project and we were thrilled she was able to participate in our event. I think it is important for our attendees and supporters to be able to interact with the key people that our funds support. Which is why it was great that Lori was there as well as all the Child Life staff from Georgetown University Hospital. 



June 3, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2002. Mattie was seven months old and I just love his facial expression here.... as if he was saying to me.... "yes you have my attention!!!" Mattie was still spinning his toy with his left hand but focused on me with his eyes while I captured this moment! Mattie was the ultimate multi-tasker.

Quote of the day: Put your heart,mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret to success. Swami Sivananda


Tonight's photos I captured on my own camera. Which wasn't easy to do at the Walk, because literally I am jumping from one thing to the other! Which is why I am truly grateful that we hire, Herman, a professional photographer to capture our event for us. 

This two year old cutie coming down the track is Gigi! Gigi is Brandon's niece. As my faithful readers know, Brandon was Mattie's big buddy at the hospital. Mattie and Brandon were diagnosed with cancer around the same time, and despite their age difference, they were very close and good for each other. Mattie really relied on Brandon and even when Brandon went into remission, he came often to the hospital to visit Mattie. To this day, we are all still connected as families. 

The lovely lady in this photo is Mary. The two little ones in the stroller, Henry and Christian, are her twins. Mary was Mattie's technology teacher at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes. Mary was truly devoted to Mattie and would visit him practically every week at the hospital, she even gave him his own school laptop to work and play with. It was on that computer that Mattie created the most beautiful paintings and even recorded his voice for me. In fact, a couple of months ago, Mary sent me that voice recording. But to this day, I still haven't found the courage to listen to it. I can remember the night in his bedroom at home that he recorded that particular song he was singing to me. It was a song he made up for me, in which he entitled it 'una moona.' Which was what he used to call me. Mary and I still keep in touch often, and she is another special person Mattie has brought into my world. 

This cutie is Abbie. Abbie is the sister of John. John and Mattie went to preschool together, and John and I have always been close buddies. Though Abbie did not know Mattie personally, she has heard about him through her brother and family members. Abbie found a tent moth caterpillar at the Walk and came over to show me. You can see it crawling up her arm! This is very reminiscent of Mattie because this is exactly what he did during the Walk of 2009! In his wheelchair he was collecting caterpillars in a cup! 






I snapped a photo of the Lego tent at one point during the day. Really whatever point you pass it, it is just super busy. 










You can see that one of the structures they made by the Lego tent was the Washington Monument! It was huge!

















I was able to capture the three ladies working under the food tent.....Heather, Rachel, and Becca! Heather is the sous chef at Clyde's at Tyson's Corner, Rachel is Becca's daugher, and Becca is the Executive Chef at Clyde's at Tyson's Corner. This team does an extraordinary job and they do it all with a smile! 
In year's past, Tanja always assisted Becca under the food tent. But this year thanks to Heather joining our team, I was able to reassign Tanja! It worked out beautifully for us because with launching a new walk concept, the challenge wall, I needed someone with Tanja's skills to help us keep the wall flowing, organized, and still feeling user friendly! What you may not realize is Tanja was out there for four hours doing this, which was greatly appreciated!

Peter and my parents posed for a photo with Tricia (Mattie's favorite HEM/ONC nurse) and her husband Mike and daughter Nicole! Nicole is a loyal follower of the Foundation, and like her mom, comes to ALL of our Walks! The day would not be the same without either one of them. 


Norma and her eldest daughter Gabby are also loyal followers of the Foundation and come to ALL of our Walks. They ran a marathon in the morning, but still made it their business to come to the Walk and show their support. Norma was one of Mattie's sedation nurses. Mattie primarily worked with Debbi, our sedation nurse angel, but there were times in which Debbi wasn't available. There were other people on the sedation team, and the only other nurse I trusted outside of Debbi was Norma. Norma was competent and compassionate and I will never forget how she helped us. Norma also understood the emotional toll this all had on me and on several occasions came to the hospital with amazing baked goods created by Gabby. Gabby is an outstanding baker and I still remember her chocolate cake... one should need a prescription to eat it, it is that special!

This cutie is Norah! Norah is Linda's daughter. Linda was Mattie's child life specialist and the main inspiration for why we contribute to Georgetown University Hospital. We could not have survived at Georgetown or through the hellish 14 months that we did without Linda. Linda made Mattie's life more tolerable, and for that I will never forget her. She understood Mattie, advocated for him, wanted to make his existence better and practically moved any obstacle in the way to achieve that, and was there for Peter and I CONSTANTLY. 

Notice that Norah is holding a Bug Mobile (one of the items kids could create at the Walk)! Mattie would have been pleased. 



As my faithful readers know, I had a dear friend, Margaret. Margaret was Mattie's preschool teacher, who became a close friend of mine. Pictured here is Margaret's daughter Ali and Ali's children, Parker and Charlotte. Though Margaret is no longer physically with us, her spirit lives on at the Walk through her family and the flowers we always have on our tables in her memory. Ali was one of our "Mattie Miracle Workers" this year and raised $1,815 for the Foundation!

Pictured with Peter and me is Bob Weiman, AKA, "The Magic Man." Bob hosted the magic show at the Walk, and has done so since 2009! Bob is the assistant head of the St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School and taught Mattie magic even when he was in the hospital. Magic, like Legos, became a form of therapy for Mattie because it was something that made him feel good about himself and he appreciated he had a skill that made him unique.