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

November 19, 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. This was the first month Mattie was in the hospital and dealing with his treatment regimen. Despite all the drastic changes in his life and how he was feeling, he still had a sense of humor. That evening Peter blew up gloves and Mattie used them like puppets and was doing a show through the window. His nurses in the hallway could see this, which I am sure surprised them because most patients in a PICU aren't up and looking to play games. But this was the incredible spirit of Mattie. 




Quote of the day: This is the true joy in life — being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. ~George Bernard Shaw


This afternoon we headed to our friend Ann's house to sort and organize more candy! I continue to be stunned over how much post-Halloween candy is out there and gets donated to us. We are now probably over 10,000 pounds of candy. We spent hours sorting bins and bags filled with candy. 
We were fortunate to have the St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School's 9th Grade Girl Scouts sorting with us tonight. They are NO strangers to this process and are excellent and efficient sorters. They actually seem to enjoy this task! To put these girls into context for you, they would have been classmates of Mattie if he were alive today. In my mind, Mattie remains 7, but in all reality he would be 14.

This is what the overall sorting station process looks like. I love Peter's expression here, as he examines and truly studies the candy before him. 
Me with the candy! It was imperative that we finished this sorting this weekend. Because on Tuesday of next week, Mattie's school is coming with a truck to pick up half of the garage worth of candy and will store it at the school. Then on Wednesday of next week, the students and faculty will have an opportunity to sort candy from four bins that contain unsorted candy. They will be doing this for two hours during their "saintsgiving" service day. After Thanksgiving, I will then drive along with the school's truck and make two big deliveries. However, because of the massive amount of candy collected this year, Peter and I are renting a UHaul truck the first week of December and making all the additional deliveries needed! So though Halloween is over, for us it is STILL going on. 

November 18, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. Mattie was five years old and holding a toy microphone. Microphone or no microphone, Mattie always commanded the attention of others. He just had that kind of personality!



Quote of the day: Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ~William James



It has been an abolutely full day! It started with taking Sunny to get groomed this morning. While he was dropped off for that, I went to my monthly licensure board meeting. Which lasted SIX hours. That alone was exhausting. But then I had to jump back in the car and pick Sunny up from the groomer's. Mandy, the groomer, has fallen in love with Sunny. She says he has "bedroom eyes!" After grooming, most dogs go into daycare, but Sunny doesn't care for that large playroom environment. He prefers one on one human attention. So Mandy literally keeps Sunny with her for the entire six hours he is there. She is grooming other dogs, but she says Sunny is a peach. He watches, observes and also interacts with the other dogs waiting to be groomed. This is done without any cages, so Sunny roams around in Mandy's space. I am much happier with that arrangement. In addition, Mandy makes bandanas for dogs as well as homemade oatmeal dog bisquits. As you can see Sunny is wearing Mandy's fall leaf bandana and he has already demolished two of the bisquits she baked for him. 

Meanwhile back at home, check out Indie's strategic position.... On top of our buffet! It removes her from Sunny, yet she has a bird's eye view of our living and dining rooms!

My parent's sent Indie this new toy and we had to quickly remove it from Sunny's sight. Otherwise he would want to play with it too. Indie spent a lot of time with this toy tonight, which is wonderful, because both Sunny and Indie are VERY hands on pets. It was nice she could play by herself for a bit. 

My friends sent me these photos today while I was at my licensure board meeting. They spent several hours in Ann's garage organizing candy bins for delivery after Thanksgiving. Organizing means that bins are filled to the top with bagged sorted candy and labels are on the boxes so we know which institution they should be delivered to. 
This may look easy, but each of these bins weighs a ton. Moving one or two is hard, but moving and stacking over 60 bins and many boxes of candy is difficult to put it mildly. 

November 17, 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken on November 19, 2008. Just 7 days after Mattie's limb salvaging surgeries. This was what Mattie looked like seven days after surgery. Keep in mind that the surgery on November 12th entailed removing bones from Mattie's right leg, left arm, and leg wrist and replacing them with prostetics. This happened ALL in one surgery. A surgery which was over 12 hours long. It is actually hard to believe that Mattie was even smiling in this photo as he was checking out what I was doing. One of our Team Mattie supporters gave us these crazy straws that attached to green glasses, in hopes that it would inspire Mattie to use them and work his lungs post surgery. Mattie wasn't going to try it unless I did it first! Which was very typical for Mattie. I always had to do them first, and if it worked out for me, then Mattie would follow! 


Quote of the day: When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad; and that’s my religion. ~ Abraham Lincoln


I had thought I was doing one thing today, and then I received this!!! This is all the candy my friend Leslie collected in Maryland. This may not look overwhelming, but I assure you, it was a lot to sift through and carry. My trunk was full, along with my back seat. Given that we are based in DC and Virginia, having Leslie's help in Maryland is vital. 



So I took my car load and drove to my friend's, Ann, house to drop off the candy and consolidate it with the candy we already have. Thankfully what I received today was presorted otherwise it would have been a full day project. Rather than four hours. This is what Ann's couch looks like. 
This is Ann's dining room table. Which I hope to clear off for her before Thanksgiving!
This is Ann's garage.... bins filled with candy!

So basically in my estimation we are at 5 tons of candy this year, or 10,000 pounds. I swear we are going to need a warehouse soon!!!

November 16, 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2005. This was literally Mattie's first day of preschool. The photo was taken by his teacher, Margaret. I just love this photo, because despite the fact that this was a new experience, a new environment, and surrounded by new people, Mattie was smiling and taking it all in. 

Margaret had this photo of Mattie on display on the classroom door for that entire year. I am so happy that Margaret shared the electronic photo with me. 





Quote of the day: The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. ~ William James




I made three more candy deliveries. I was literally in DC, Maryland, and Virginia today and spent about three hours driving all over the place. 

My first stop was the Children's Inn at NIH. Getting onto NIH's campus is NO easy feat. You and your car go through security checks. You have to get out of your car and every aspect of it gets searched. While the car is getting searched, you go through a metal detector and screening. 

When I was cleared, I then had to get back into my car and drive to where the Children's Inn is located on the HUGE campus. However, what I found was the security folks got a kick out of seeing all the candy in my car and one guard literally followed me back to my car and she wanted candy! Candy is hard to resist no matter what your age is!!!


So I donated 100 pounds of candy to the Children's Inn and then my second delivery today was to the Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church, VA. I donated another 100 pounds here. Pictured here is Cinteria, the house manager. Cinteria is delightful. She is new to this position, but we connected since she has lived in New York and Southern California. 









My third candy delivery was to Special Love for Children with Cancer. I love how Special Love picks up the candy... in their Mystery Machine. If Mattie were alive, he would have LOVED seeing this van, because Mattie was a huge Scooby Doo fan. 



Pictured with the 500 pound candy donation is Dave Smith. Dave is the CEO of Special Love. 

So yesterday we delivered 800 pounds of candy and today 700 pounds. 
While I was running around town, this team of moms gathered together to do a massive sorting of candy. They worked for over six hours today. We could never manage this candy drive without their leg work and dedication. 

Pictured from left to right are:
Sharon Luther, Karen Beckhorn, Tina Lytle, Danelle Fortune, Cecile Phillips, and Sonja Clark. 
This is what my friend's garage looks like. Once the candy gets sorted into ziplocs, the bags are then stored in bins and delivered this way. But bins are bulky and heavy which is where Mattie's school comes into the mix. The school comes to pick up these bins in a truck and helps me deliver them to two locations. However, this year, I will be dealing with candy into December based on the timing of things. Our candy drive supplies the following places:

1) MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (Washington, DC)
2) Children's Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore (Maryland)
3) Ronald McDonald House DC (Washington, DC)
4) Ronald McDonald House Falls Church (Virginia)
5) HSC Pediatric Center (Washington, DC)
6) Children's Inn at NIH (Maryland)
7) National Children's Medical Center (Washington, DC)
8) Special Love (Virginia)
9) Candlelighter's and Growing Hope (Virginia)

Tonight's photo was taken while I was walking Sunny! This is what Washington Harbor looks like. The fountain was transformed into an ice skating rink. I really MISS the fountain, as this signals to me that winter is coming. 
Meanwhile, look who was caught in the act..... Sunny moved the cat's bed on top of his bed. Sunny was trying to give the cat and me a message. He does this when he deems I am giving the cat too much attention. 

However, it happened, last night, both animals were on the bed with us. That did not take them long!!!

November 15, 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 -- Mattie died 374 weeks ago today.

Yes tonight's photo is blurry! It was taken in November of 2006, at Mattie's preschool. That day the school was having a Thanksgiving celebration, in which the children and the teachers cooked some of the dishes being served. Peter and I were helpers in the classroom that day, which was very exciting. Prior to eating, Mattie's class was working on this wonderful structure out of red tubes. Mattie loved designing and building, so literally Mattie was taking the lead. Peter also loves the building process, so he and Mattie were having a ball together. Peter's energy also encouraged the other children to play along and get involved. I remember this day well because by the end of it, Mattie was running a fever and not feeling well. 


Quote of the day: I think it's important that we give back to society and our fellow man regardless of our professions. We all need help at times. And when we support each other, we're all a little stronger. Rhonda Hopkins


The candy deliveries began today! Just to get to this point in the candy drive, involved countless hours of candy sorting, bagging, and transferring. The process is still underway, and hopefully by the end of the week all the sorting will be done. But when you receive thousands of pounds of candy, it is a major operation. 

My first delivery today was to the HSC Pediatric Center in Washington, DC. Pictured here is Jenny, one of the child life specialists at the hospital. We donated 300 pounds of candy to HSC. 

My next delivery was to the Ronald McDonald House in Greater Washington, DC. 
We donated 500 pounds to the House. Pictured with me is Lesley, the day time house manager. Who is taking our photo? My Georgetown friend Tim. Tim no longer works at Georgetown, but instead is working at Ronald McDonald. It was a lovely surprise to see and catch up with Tim. Tim was our philanthropy contact at Georgetown for years and we developed a close working relationship. 


Check out my co-pilot! Sunny was a great companion. He did not touch the candy, didn't complain at any of the stops, but instead was helping me with Mattie Miracle business. 
Today Sunny and I delivered a total of 800 pounds of candy. This is currently what I loaded into the car this afternoon for tomorrow's delivery. This is what 60 2-gallon sized Ziploc bags looks like!















It is truly a lot of candy and a labor of love. 

November 14, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. Mattie was five years old and was at Roosevelt Island in this photo.... a place Mattie loved to visit. There is one specific place on the Island in which you can find crinkly hedge apples. Which was the green ball Mattie was holding. Mattie was intrigued by this fruit and naturally brought it home with him. We never left Roosevelt Island without a branch or rock. Something found in nature. In any case, that particular day we went home and cut the hedge apple open to investigate it. It turns out that it has a very lemony fragrance!


Quote of the day: Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret. Ambrose Bierce


I relate to the sentiments of Bierce's quote tonight. There are moments in which I deal with bouts of anger. Today is one of them. I do know that when I feel this way, I have two modes....  I can either shut down or lash out and hurt the feelings of those around me. Fortunately for others today I chose the former rather than the latter. 

What am I angry about? I suppose a host of things. Certainly balancing the candy drive and all aspects associated with it, I find stressful. But even with that stress, that doesn't explain my anger. My anger most likely makes no sense to some, but to me it is very real. The candy drive is filled with moms and children who volunteer. Which of course is wonderful but on the other hand challenging for me. When ever I am in a group of moms, they symbolize what I am missing in my life, and the conversations are always about raising children. Now with the holiday season fast approaching I am listening to conversations about family related activities which is painful. Yet I can't really express my level of upset, pain, and anger at times, because it will be misinterpreted, and will also be hurtful to those around me. I have found that having friendships after Mattie died to be challenging, because at any given time someone in the friendship (me or the other person) will be hurt. 

If I don't hear it in conversations, then I am bombarded with Christmas ALL around me. It seems like everywhere I turn I see Christmas decorations and we haven't even celebrated Thanksgiving yet. Do stores really think that decorating in October or November will help with sales or put us in the Christmas spirit. All I know it is just makes me angry because it is forcing a holiday and all its festivities on me before I am prepared to see it. So there are a whole host of things in my environment today which set me off. May tomorrow be a better day. 

November 13, 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016


Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. Actually right before Peter's birthday. I know this because Mattie had his second major limb salvaging surgery the day before Peter's birthday (November 12). Therefore, Mattie wanted to give Peter a birthday gift early. Mattie made this wonderfully colorful model magic birthday cake for Peter. It is a beautiful cake and it still sits atop of our bedroom bureau as a reminder of that moment in time. 






Quote of the day: Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless.  ~ Sherry Anderson




Today is Peter's birthday! This is how his day started out.... Sunny and I sat on the couch and gave Peter several birthday gifts. Peter is sitting with two of his gifts.... a frame and mug, both of which have the "rescue dad" theme. The frame says, "who rescued who," and includes a photo of Sunny and Peter at Great Falls park. The mug says, "rescue dad" on one side and the other side says, "never underestimate the warmth of a cold nose."


Sunny went to his Canine Good Citizen training today, and today's session went better than last week's. Maybe things were too new last week and the initial experience was overwhelming and chaotic. This week, I understood what was going to be expected and I can see the teacher loves Sunny. After all, who doesn't love Sunny?! I haven't met one person yet!!! This training class is four weeks long and then on December 4th, Sunny takes a test with an evaluator, who assesses him and my handling abilities. We need to pass this Canine Good Citizen test in order to qualify for enrollment into pet therapy classes. 


As the day wore on, we were both tired and with that comes edginess. Peter even debated about whether we should go out, and if so where? Peter did not want me to make a big deal of his birthday, but I did have several restaurants in mind to celebrate the occasion. However, I made the decision that it would be nice to walk to dinner and stay local and I decided on the Lombardy Cafe, located within the Lombardy Hotel in Foggy Bottom, DC. 

The Hotel was built in 1927 and has true old world flair, but the service inside the hotel matches a by-gone era. Over the years, with my parents visiting DC, they fell in love with the Lombardy Cafe and the waiter who works within it. It was my parents who introduced me to Mohammad. Which is rather funny since Mohammad's restaurant is several blocks from where I live, and my parents live in Los Angeles. Sure enough Mohammad was a the cafe tonight and spoiled Peter and treated him to a dessert for his birthday! Check out this beautiful rack of lamb we each had for dinner. 

We ended the night with homemade chocolate mousse and fresh berries. It was a very special evening, and even more special to be in a restaurant that isn't congested, loud, and frenetic. I could see Peter relaxing as we both enjoyed wonderful food. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. Mattie was five years old and we were visiting Roosevelt Island that weekend. Mattie loved the Island and now whenever we walk over the bridge to enter the Island, I can vividly recall moments like this with Mattie. You may notice that I am holding a huge leaf in my hands. When we walked with Mattie, there was always a keep sake from nature that Mattie wanted to bring home with us.... a rock, leaf, acorn, or branch.


Quote of the day: Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart. ~ Elizabeth Andrew



Peter and I had our God daughter, Charlotte, and her parents over today for lunch. Since I remember what it was like to raise a nine month old, we tried to host a tasty and relaxing day for the family. Mainly because I remember when Mattie was nine months, I was always exhausted and never had the opportunity to have a free hand/arm to eat. 



We got Charlotte a couple of gifts. Gifts that Mattie used and liked. So we were hoping Charlotte would feel the same way about them. Look who was in the background of this photo. Sunny handled Charlotte's visit beautifully!













After our luncheon, we cleaned up and then packed up the car with more candy that was donated to us from Charlotte's parents and a DC Girl Scout Troop. We brought the candy to our friend, Ann's house. 
This was what was happening at Ann's house tonight! More candy sorting. We want to thank Mary Doane (and her daughter Abbie), Sue Whitney (and her daughters Beth and Kate), Marisa Tordella, and Jordan for their amazing efforts. 

The girls sorting candy tonight! They were stellar volunteers!
Mary and Sue.... sorting and helping to guide the process. I met Mary through Mattie's preschool and we have been friend ever since. Sue heads the Girl Scout Troop of Mattie's 9th grade class mates. Both Mary and Sue are big Mattie Miracle supporters. 
Our friend Marisa.... working hard and keeping us organized! Marisa is no stranger to Mattie Miracle, as she runs our Annual Walk's bake sale the past seven years!
One of my favorite photos..... Sunny--- in and among the activity. He loved the excitement and the attention from all the volunteers.

When candy is being sorted, there is true chaos everywhere. Ziplocs, bins, and piles of candy. Yet Sunny managed through all of this and did not eat the candy or disturb the process.