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 3, 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2003. This was Mattie's first trip to a beach. We took him to the Outer Banks and I can assure you he was NOT a happy camper. He disliked the feel of the sand and the sound of the surf crashing onto the shore. Mattie always had good sense and knew there were some things he had to be cautious about. A safe fear of the water was just fine by me. In any case, we stayed at the beach for a week, but that was the only time we actually went to the beach. On that trip, Mattie preferred playing with the hose on the deck of the house that we rented. 


Quote of the day: I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Christopher Reeve



We have come full circle! On Memorial Day, Peter and I were focused on designing and completing cupcake towers for our friend's party. She sent us a photo today as she was setting things up at her son's school. Here is one of the cupcake towers, and the second is on a different table. Frankly if the tower wasn't there, this would have been a very barren table. I wasn't consulted on set up, just tasked with the towers. 


Well, I have another week's worth of photos from the Walk to post. So even while I am away next week, I still will be sharing Walk photos. Tonight's photos capture the Corn Hole Tournament we ran. We had 42 people signed up for the Tournament, which is double the number of last year. 

This is Jack Wood, he is our first place winner of the Tournament. Jack won four diamond level seats to a Nats game, which includes parking and food. This package is worth close to $800. Of which we thank Debbie and Peter Keefe for this VERY generous contribution to our event. 


This is David Christman. David is our second place winner of the Tournament. David won an iPad Air, which we thank Mary and Mike Doane for this very generous contribution! 
This is Nate Prehn. Nate is our third place winner. Nate won a $50 gift certificate to The Cheesecake Factory (thanks to the Cheesecake Factory) and 10 Mattie Miracle Raffle tickets. 
Peter ran the corn hole tournament, along with our trusty husband/wife team: Patricia and Bernie Tilch (standing behind Peter in this photo). This may sound easy to do, but the tournament is complicated because you have to make sure registered individuals are playing, someone has to watch and score all six boards which are playing simultaneously, and someone has to coordinate and track all 42 players. 

 Some of our players!
The boards and volunteers. Volunteers are key, we couldn't have had a successful tournament without their judging!
This fellow is the grandson of Mattie's sedation nurse, Debbi. This is the second year he has attended the Walk, and I hear the Walk is a hit with the whole family. 
 More players.
This is Tricia, Mattie's favorite HEM/ONC nurse! Tricia and her entire family come to EVERY Foundation Walk. She hasn't missed one in 8 years. 
A close up of our corn hole boards. These boards were constructed last year by a Girl Scout Troop at Mattie's school. With A LOT of help from Peter. 

June 2, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2005. This was Mattie's second trip to the beach and by that summer, he was far more interested in going on the beach (unlike his first summer trip to the beach, where we wouldn't set foot on the beach). Mattie never really liked the water, but was eager to go on the sand. Mattie was a born builder, and loved making sandcastles! As you can see Peter snapped a photo of us sitting and looking at the water together. As we head to the beach on Sunday, I always remember our Mattie adventures.


Quote of the day: In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently. ~ Tony Robbins



For a week now I have been posting Walk 2017 photos. Rather incredible, since there are several more things to highlight! Tonight's posting is about our three craft tents.

This was the first year we had craft tents. I have always wanted something like this but with planning and coordinating the walk, I did not have the brain power to devote to this. Thankfully our children's activity coordinator at the Walk, Debbie, agreed to take this on. Fortunately she is a teacher by training and absolutely understands the importance of making the craft easy to set up, self-explainable and doable. Also the beauty of these tents was it appealed to all ages. Though Debbie couldn't be at the walk, Lexi (the young woman you see pictured here and attends Virginia Tech), followed through on Debbie's plans.


There were three tables.... one for beading, one for making butterflies, and a third for inspirational stones. There was even a copy of the Hungry Caterpillar (a book Mattie LOVED) on the table! This children's book cleverly takes a child through the metamorphosis process from a caterpillar to a butterfly. 
I would like to say that there was chatting and connecting under these tents. What I noticed is that many children and adults alike who experienced the loss of a loved one gravitated to these tents. 
Adult coloring books are VERY popular activities now and this creativity station was well attended!
I am so happy that Herman, our photographer, captured this photo. The lady sitting down is Patti, being hugged by her grandson, Dylan. Patti lost her daughter and son to cancer. I am so impressed Patti attended as she is trying to cope with being childless and Dylan is trying to manage through life without a mom. 
The lady in the lower right hand corner is my friend and colleague, Nancy. Nancy and her family came all the way from New Jersey to attend our walk. Why? Because her grandson, Ryan raised over $3,000 for the Foundation. Making him our top teen fundraiser this year. Pictured with Nancy is her granddaughter, Jordana. We were so honored they joined us at the Walk. 
Don't you love this butterfly and his smile?
I posted these butterflies on Facebook today and one of my friends asked if they were for sale! Never thought of that, we only thought about people creating them! But if I had any left over, she was ready to buy them!!!

June 1, 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken during the Spring of 2006. Pictured with Mattie was Nancy (a preschool buddy) and Margaret (Mattie's teacher and my "dear" friend).  It is hard to believe that both Mattie and Margaret are now both gone from our lives. Mattie of course taken by cancer and Margaret, ALS. Today is the third anniversary of Margaret's death. Thanks to Margaret's daughter, I had the opportunity to sit with Margaret as she received last rites by a priest and to say good-bye in 2014. Mattie went to a very special preschool. It was his second school, as I pulled him from the first preschool he attended in DC. Needless to say I was leery about Mattie trying a new school, but during the school's open house, I met Margaret. The rest was history. I LOVED Margaret the moment I met her and so did Mattie. It was in Margaret's class that Mattie had many firsts and many positive experiences. Something I will never forget. Margaret used to write me the most beautiful updates about Mattie in school, and then of course once we became friends we would have special lunches, teas, and trips to the museum together. Today and always I miss both Mattie and Margaret. 


Quote of the day: A pearl is a beautiful thing that is produced by an injured life. It is the tear [that results] from the injury of the oyster. The treasure of our being in this world is also produced by an injured life. If we had not been wounded, if we had not been injured, then we will not produce the pearl. ~ Stephan Hoeller



Today I took my friends Peggy and Jane out for a post walk lunch to celebrate the money we raised and Peggy's birthday. These two women are really amazing supporters of the Foundation and of me. They sat with the stress of trying to raise $80k this year. It is a very nerve wracking position I'm faced with each May. Because without a certain level of funding we can't operate our psychosocial programs. I am lucky that Peggy and Jane are committed to what we do and stand behind us not only with their own money but with their incredible efforts to fundraise and get attendance at the actual event. The photo I posted above with Mattie, Nancy, and Margaret..... well Nancy is Jane's daughter. So Jane and I have known one another since 2005, when Mattie and Nancy were in Margaret's classroom. 


More Walk photos! Tonight's photos capture the beautiful faces at our Walk. 

Literally there were cats, spiders, bunnies, butterflies, and the SUN at our Mattie Miracle Walk, thanks to Kip, our amazing face painter. 

The lady on the left is Debbi, Mattie's sedation nurse angel. Just an incredible person, nurse and friend, alongside her daughter, Michaela.

This is Charlotte and Parker. Margaret's grandchildren! Margaret may not physically be with us, but Margaret's daughter Ali has picked up where her mom left off. I have a feeling Margaret would be deeply moved that her daughter and grandchildren support a Foundation she was so passionate about. 



Kip had quite a line at her table, but kids and adults were thrilled by her beautiful artistic results!!!


May 31, 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2005. I literally lost many photos like this one in my computer files.Thankfully however, we use Shutterfly. Which has stored all our photos safely over the years. Since before Mattie was born! I downloaded many photos that I haven't seen in years today. This was one of them! We went to the Outer Banks that summer with Mattie and the house we rented had a lovely swing on the front porch. After a full day, we both took to the swing as you see here. Mattie though wasn't a napper and didn't shut down until bedtime. So the swing was a wonderful way in which we could pause for a break and yet still be moving! 



Quote of the day: Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies. ~ Mother Teresa


Today there was a blog posting on Dominion Consulting's website regarding our Walk. Dominion is our largest corporate sponsor of the Walk, and has been funding us since 2011. We are truly honored to have both their financial and on the ground support at our events. Read the posting below.................

Dominion Consulting:
http://dominionconsulting.com/fun-mattie-miracle-cancer-foundation-walk-family-festival/#more-49421

As promised, here are more photos from the Walk. I am so thankful to our photographer Herman Farrer, because Peter and I are literally all over the place running the event that we actually do not get to enjoy or see all aspects of it. We are always grateful to see the Walk through Herman's eyes! I told Herman that I was looking over previous Walk photos, prior to hiring a professional photographer, and there is a HUGE night and day difference between our home spun photos in years past versus photos by Herman. Herman captures the energy at our event beautifully! 


This year the 8th grade Boy Scout Troop at Mattie's school volunteered to build three GIANT Jenga sets. Jenga is a bit like pick up sticks. You play against someone, and you try to remove blocks without toppling over the tower. Obviously the one who topples the tower loses the game. 

One of Mattie's close friends is in this Boy Scout Troop, so it was very meaningful that he and his troop wanted to create three sets of Jenga for us using Mattie Miracle colors. They literally cut the wood to form blocks, built the base, and painted! Great job, no???


As you can see Jenga was a hit at the Walk. It attracted a lot of players.
Studying which block to remove!
In addition to Jenga, we had other traditional lawn games, like horseshoes, ladders (in which you try to throw a rope and hook it onto the ladders), and rollers. These are high school students at Mattie's school clearly engaged with the games. I like traditional games because for the most part kids don't get the opportunity anymore to play them. Now things are more electronic! Since Mattie wasn't into electronic devices, you won't be seeing them at the Walk. Instead, I believe going back to basics works time and time again. 

May 30, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 -- Mattie died 402 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2008. Mattie was at his school's end of year party that was held at a local park. Pictured with Mattie were his two closest friends at school, Charlotte and Campbell. Mattie called Charlotte "his girlfriend," and if you asked Charlotte about the future, she would say that she was going to be roommates at college with Mattie and Campbell. They were a great threesome. Charlotte and Campbell are involved with Mattie Miracle and each year they either help us raise money or volunteer at the Walk. The friendship continues, though Mattie is no longer alive. Any one who thinks that children do not experience loss and remember it, are kidding themselves. I can see the ramifications of Mattie's death in the lives of his closest friends. 


Quote of the day: To make a rainbow, there has to be a little rain. ~ Dolly Parton


Over the weekend, I paused from posting Walk photos. But here is a great photo our photographer captured while up on a ladder. Brave soul, but everyone understands not to walk into the ladder!
Within this photo, you can see that our walkers, passed by our Faces of Hope posters. These are children/teens who are deemed cancer survivors. The point of having photos of survivors and our Forever Heroes (which were new this year), is to visually show that the psychosocial issues DO NOT end when the treatment does. In fact, the treatment produces many long lasting psychosocial consequences for both the child and the family. It is the biggest myth that once treatment ends.... you are CURED! It doesn't work that way. There is always the physical threat that the cancer will come back, and even if it doesn't the psychosocial ramifications of that fear, along with the host of other physical issues that arise because of the toxicity the child was exposed directly impacts quality of life and one's mental health. That is just for the survivors. For the bereaved parents, the psychosocial consequences are also numerous and these psychosocial issues can impact one's physical health. Issues which don't disappear after the first year of grief and loss. Instead, these are forever present. 

Our Mattie Miracle Walkers are amazing. On May 21, around 400 people collectively walked 1,325 laps around the track, which is equivalent to 331 miles. 

How do we know? Each colorful cup placed in our challenge fence marks a lap completed. By the end of our event the fence was FILLED.
This year's challenge was to raise funds to start an evidence based psychosocial grant program (in addition to our other psychosocial services). 

We had amazing volunteers at the Walk distributing cups and also counting cups for our Tally board. We have some teams who take their laps very seriously!!! The little kids in the photo belong to our DJ. The kids love cup collecting every year. So while there dad is working, so are they!!!

This was what the fence/wall was looking like as it was getting filled with cups!

Sunny and I went for a Walk by the Potomac River. The Geese are out with their goslings. A sight that reminds me of Mattie. He loved looking at baby birds and always felt they reminded him of us.
I think I have just about HAD IT with the rain and grayness. I no longer expect to see the sun when I wake up! Isn't that awful? Washington Harbor is trying to manage all the rain fall, and potential flooding that can ensue. So the FLOOD GATES were up today. To me this was a very depressing sight, as the gates are blocking the beautiful fountain and restaurants behind them. 

May 29, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2005. Mattie was three years old. You will notice that he was standing on a green John Deere like tractor stool. Mattie was clearly becoming more independent and needed a stool in the bathroom. Instead of buying one, he and Peter constructed one together. Mattie got to decide on the shape! Mattie loved all sorts of vehicles!!! Anything with wheels. This stool is so sturdy, that I use it in my closet even today. When I see it, it takes me back to the day they made it together. In this photo, Mattie was standing on the stool to show his proud accomplishment. 




Quote of the day: Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.C.E.M. Joad



Tonight's quote is a riot! I fully and freely report that the idea to make cupcake towers came from the Internet. I personally love how the crafter on line described this project as EASY! What a terrible, terrible joke! Peter and I are both skilled and together we were at this project ALL day. 

Why did we do this? For a friend. She is responsible for dessert displays next week at her son's school. She needs to display 100 cupcakes on a buffet table for the 2017 graduates. I can officially say that I neither enjoyed this project NOR would recommend anyone try to take this on. 

If I were to do it again, I probably would redesign it and use completely different materials than the ones recommended. 
So above you saw Peter and I working with foam core pieces. First these pieces had to be cut to the approach size in order for them to stack on top of each other in layers. That alone was a math challenge! Thank goodness for Peter who can deal with this kind of stuff easily and also sees in three dimensions. 

Because we had to take a flat form core (which is like a poster board), and turn it into a box. 
Once the boxes were formed, which meant that each of the pieces had to be glued to form a box, then each box was wrapped with white paper. Again, that may sound easy, but this is actually a box with only three sides, the underneath part is hollow. Which makes wrapping evenly next to impossible! 
After a FULL day on this project, here are the final displays. They include the school's logos, congratulations and class of 2017!
What you can't see is that two of the boxes are also wrapped in a lovely silver shimmering material, since the school's colors are grey/silver and burgundy. I'm thrilled this is behind us. So much for a relaxing weekend post-walk. It did not happen. 

May 28, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2005. We took Mattie to Brookside Garden in Maryland and what he was looking at were fish in the fountain. Mattie found this very intriguing and if he could have jumped in with the fish he would have!






Quote of the day: Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul? ~ John Keats


This was the scene in our home today. Peter hurt his back last weekend moving hurdles and other heavy objects while setting up for the Walk. I think all our intense work yesterday with organizing, wrapping and putting things in storage from the Walk did not help Peter's situation. So he is having forced rest today and Doctor Sunny is on the scene to supervise the patient.  



Meanwhile, my friend asked me to help her display around 100 cupcakes at her son's school party next week. So I have been on the Internet getting crafty ideas. We went to the craft store and bought lots of items today. This photo is a sample. Now we have to build and decorate the towers. When the two towers are complete, I will post photos!