Mattie Miracle 2021 Walk was a $125,000 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: 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

November 18, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2005. Mattie was three years old and doing one of his favorite activities in our living room..... painting with his feet! Do not ask me why Mattie loved doing this, because the whole notion brings great discomfort to me! Yet Mattie had a ball creating and we made many greeting card covers this way! The beauty of Mattie however was he was very neat! I never had to worry that he was going to run off the paper and get paint all over our home. IT NEVER HAPPENED. Mattie wasn't impulsive and had an understanding that paint did not belong on carpets and furniture. Which was most likely why I had no problem inviting paint, clay, and other messy products into our living space. 

Quote of the day: I am exhausted... A task like this is possible for a month but for more than two it's murderous... ~ Claude Monet

It's been quite a two weeks! Just processing 12,000 pounds of candy was enough to wipe me out for a month. But now we head into Thanksgiving. We have Peter's parents visiting, starting on Monday, so there is no down time. Food and other preparations need to be managed. In addition, Peter and I have taken on the care of our neighbor who is recovering from a serious accident which lead to fractured bones and surgery. When I tell you we are moving from one chore to another today, I am not kidding. It is 11:30pm, and I am just sitting still for the day to write this blog. 

The one peaceful highlight of the day, was we took Sunny to Roosevelt Island. The poor guy was getting very stir crazy at home, watching us as we were doing chores. Sunny absolutely loves Roosevelt Island and like us, he stops in his tracks whenever he sees deer. Can you see this cutie camouflaged so beautifully in between the branches?

Some days, I get so focused on working that I do not want to divert my attention. But with Sunny that isn't possible. He needs to go on long walks, and I find these mandatory breaks are vital. It gets us outside, interacting with others, and taking in nature. I believe Mattie would have approved of Sunny, since Mattie LOVED outdoor time, exploring, and appreciating the freedom that only a green space can provide.

November 17, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2005. Mattie was three years old and as you can see was building with Lincoln Logs. Mattie gravitated to design and construction. He just understood the mechanics of things at a very early age and regardless of the materials you gave him, he had no trouble developing something. Do you also notice the orange sippy cup on the table? The sippy cup was like a security blanket. Mattie never went too far without his milk. I always joked with Mattie that we should ask a cow to move in with us, that way he could have access to fresh milk on demand.  

Quote of the day: Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Peter and I got up very early today, so we could get to the Uhaul company and be at the garage by 9am to start loading thousands of pounds of candy into the truck!

I assure you this job is back breaking and very labor intensive. While we were lugging 45 containers into this truck, my friend's neighbor saw us. He came over, introduced himself to us, and offered to help. That to me was a random act of kindness, and thanks to John, this truly made the process go smoothly and helped to reduce the physical stress on us. 

I thought showing a before and after photo would be helpful. This of course wasn't the FULL level of chaos in the garage. But you get the feeling for the first day of candy drop offs. Keep in mind that we received candy way past our deadline, and for a week we were inundated with drop offs.  
This is what the garage looked like after we loaded the candy into the truck!
Some delivery sites, I leave the bins, but others, I unload the candy and bring the bins back for storage, to be ready for the next candy drive. It is truly an operation.

Because of the significant amount of candy received (12,000 pounds  ---  yes 6 tons), we have to get creative with our recipients. After all, there are just so many pediatric hospitals and childhood cancer organizations we can donate to in our region. So today, a good bulk of candy went to the following places:

  1. Embry Rucker Community Shelter (ERCS is a 70-bed residential shelter that provides healthy, safe, emergency housing for families and single men and women. )
  2. Cornerstones (is a nonprofit organization that promotes self-sufficiency by providing support and advocacy for those in need of food, shelter, affordable housing, quality childcare, and other human services.)
  3. Covenant House (has been a lifeline to over 40,000 homeless, disconnected, and exploited youth ages 12 -24 in the Greater Washington Region. As the region's largest and leading non-profit in serving homeless youth.)

The Shelter and Cornerstones were super helpful to us today. As they had volunteers assist with lifting! They made it so much easier to donate. However, Covenant House was a physical challenge as they wanted the candy stacked into their walk-in refrigerator. That first meant we had to organize what was in their refrigerator, and then lug in all the bins into the refrigerator. Peter and I managed it, and all I can say is I am happy to have this 7th Annual Candy Drive behind me. Or at least the bulk of it. I do know that 10 more bins of candy are coming into us after Thanksgiving, which I will have to process and deliver. But for now, I am not thinking about it!

So where did the candy go??? Check it out.......................

Washington, DC

  • MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
  • Ronald McDonald Houses 
  • Hospital for Sick Children
  • The EVAN Foundation (at Children's National Medical Center) 
  • Covenant House 

Baltimore, MD 

  • Children’s Hospital at Sinai
  • Hackerman Patz House
  • Ronald McDonald House 

Bethesda, MD

  • Children's Inn at NIH 

Northern Virginia

  • Ronald McDonald Houses 
  • Special Love for Children with Cancer 
  • Pediatric Specialists of Northern Virginia (PSV) 
  • DC Candlelighter's Childhood Cancer Foundation
  • Embry Rucker Community Shelter 
  • Cornerstones 

November 16, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2005. Mattie was three years old and lying on our bed. This wasn't unusual for Mattie. He loved spending time on our bed. Whether it was jumping on it, reading books, watching Scooby Doo or the list goes on. I remember on the weekends, Mattie would wake up, and come flying into our room. To let us know it was time to GET UP! Mattie would typically scurry over to my side of the bed and start poking at me. Mattie was like Peter, as they both are morning people! They just wake up ready to go.

Quote of the day: Find a need and fill it. ~ Ruth Stafford Peale

This morning I headed to Falls Church, VA to make a candy drop at the Virginia Ronald McDonald House. Pictured from left to right are Julie (director of marketing), our friend Tim, and Doug (the house manager). It is amazing how much candy can come out of my trunk!
After that delivery, I headed to Pediatric Specialists of Virginia (PSV). PSV became a new recipient of our candy drive this year. The clinic sent me this photo this afternoon, and if you look closely you can see our candy featured on their table. 
Candy was also delivered to MedStar Georgetown University today. Featured in this photo is Jessica, a child life specialist at the Hospital. 

Mattie Miracle is proud to fund and stock our Snack and Item Cart at the Hospital. This Cart is offered FREE to families caring for children in the Hospital and contains candy, nutritious snacks, drinks, and toiletry items. Families LOVE the Cart and we thank all our supporters for making these sweet treats possible.

Tomorrow is our last VERY big delivery. We are renting another U-Haul to manage about thirty bins. Unfortunately we will receive more candy after Thanksgiving, about ten more bins. I have been working hard this week to find homes for this candy, and have identified two shelters (one in Alexandria, VA and one in Rockville, MD) thankfully! I truly hoped that tomorrow would be it for the candy, but I will make it work. 

Meanwhile, we have a neighbor who was in an accident about a week ago. She is in her 70's, and was at a store when someone in front of her in line quickly turned around and banged into her. This caused her to immediately fall and with that broke an arm and leg. What absolutely stuns me is that the hospital released her and frankly they did not assess how well she would be able to manage her own care at home. Which of course she can't! She has an arm and leg cast! This afternoon and evening, we visited her and assessed what she needed help with. We literally vacuumed, cleaned, did her laundry, helped to change her and her bed linens, did her laundry, went grocery shopping, cooked her dinner, and got her back into bed. I hadn't planned on this today, but as I said to Peter, doing the right thing isn't always the easiest thing. Our neighbor had friends that stopped by to visit her briefly tonight. While there they watched us put away groceries, serve her dinner, and remake her bed with the clean sheets. The comment was.... wow..... you guys look like you know what you are doing! Rather funny! I have taken intense care of Mattie and my friend Mary (who was in her 80s). So I can quickly assess a situation and determine what is needed! 

November 15, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2005. I happen to just love this photo! I took it of Mattie outside the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC. I thought it was priceless how he decided to hug this ape. The beauty and wonders of Mattie..... as all our weekends were always an adventure. Mattie was very bright, which was a mixed blessing. He needed constant stimulation and challenges, which we tried to give him. Usually with success. After Mattie died, our weekends were truly problematic for Peter and me. We were absolutely lost and directionless, so much so that we hated weekends for the longest time. 

Quote of the day: If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito. ~ Betty Reese

I am on day 3 of candy delivery, with two more days to go!!!

This morning I met up with Angela Ashman, the Program Director for Special Love. Special Love is a non-profit 
that helps children with cancer to “just be kids,” through camps, emergency financial assistance, college scholarships and community support.

If Mattie were alive, he would be besides himself with Special Love's mini van, as it looks like Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine. Mattie was a HUGE Scooby Doo fan! Though Special Love isn't located around the corner, Angela and I always meet half way, as we are happy to support her organization. 

So I met Angela at Tyson's Corner, and then drove to Bethesda, MD. My second delivery today was at the Children's Inn at NIH. I am pictured with Laura King, the Senior Director of Volunteers & Community Outreach. The Children’s Inn at NIH is a residential “Place Like Home’’ for families with children participating in leading-edge research studies at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

When I arrived at the Inn, the staff at the front desk called me, "the Candy Queen." I joked with them that they promoted me from lady to queen! Needless to say, in order to get onto the campus of NIH, I have to get out of my car. My car has to be inspected and I have to go through a metal detector and show my ID. The security folks are always amazed by the candy. You should see how their faces go from all serious to smiling in seconds after seeing the candy! Isn't it funny the impact of candy on all age groups?

After driving to Bethesda, I then drove to Alexandria, VA! I felt like a shuttle service this morning..... DC to Tyson's, Tyson's to Bethesda, Bethesda to Alexandria, and Alexandria to DC.

In any case, I reloaded my car with nine bins worth of candy for tomorrow's delivery! Lifting one of these bags is more than enough, but a countless number of bags becomes taxing! 

November 14, 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

 Tuesday, November 14, 2017 -- Mattie died 426 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken on November 13, 2006. Mattie was four years old. In celebration of Peter's birthday, I snapped a photo of the boys together on the couch. Love their fall colors, and when you look at this photo, it is hard to believe that only two years later Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. 

Quote of the day: We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history. ~ Sonia Johnson

Today was day two of deliveries. I started the morning with a full trunk of candy that we packed the night before. It makes it easier to hit the ground running in the morning. 

My first stop was at HSC (Hospital for Sick Children) Pediatric Center, in Washington, DC. This is a small facility and in many cases, it falls off the radar in our community. But this hospital deals with children in great need of support, and when I walked in the door this morning, all the security people know me. I am "the candy lady." Apparently I made a name for myself! Pictured here with the two lovely security folks are the child life staff at the Hospital. I was told today that patients were asking when the candy was coming..... so I am happy I did not disappointment before Thanksgiving. 

After that delivery, I headed to the Ronald McDonald House in DC. Literally it is about five minutes from the Hospital. I am pictured with Tim Mooney and Leslie Burkhalter. Leslie is the House manager and Tim does development work for Ronald McDonald. But how do I know Tim? Well Tim used to be our development contact at Georgetown University Hospital. Though Tim never met Mattie, he spent a good deal of time getting to know us and our story. He continues to be supportive of the Foundation, comes to every walk, is known to wear an orange tie for five days around the anniversary of Mattie's death, and also created a memorial stone in Mattie's name outside the entrance to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. So as you can see, Tim is not your average development person. 

In comparison to yesterday's deliveries, today was much easier. I did not have to cover as much geographical territory. However, since it was only me delivering, I did a lot of lifting and carrying of bags. Candy is HEAVY. Then after my two deliveries I had to drive to Alexandria, and reload my car for tomorrow's donations! 

We rented a U-Haul on Monday and will rent another one on Friday. In between, I try to take at least nine bins full of candy a day and deliver it locally. The worst part of today was emptying the bins and carrying and loading the candy into my car. In addition to that, I am trying to clean up the garage as we go, which is another labor of love that entails re-stacking all the empty bins (bins which have already been emptied and the candy delivered). It is like a nesting doll challenge! 

November 13, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken on Peter's birthday in 2009. Mattie was in the Hospital recovering from limb salvaging surgery. Yet wanted to make something for Peter to celebrate his birthday. Ironically it was the last birthday they celebrated together. Mattie worked with his art therapists and created a wonderful card and special cake made out of model magic for Peter. This birthday gift was special then as it is special now. The cake still sits on the dresser in our bedroom. Whenever I see it, which is daily, I think of this exact moment in time. 

Quote of the day: As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way. ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

Before delivering candy today... we called the police and fire departments!

Special thanks to Officer Dylan Lemley and the Alexandria City team who responded to help us! All are amazing people committed to helping the community!!

An older adult, who spoke no English, was wandering around the sidewalk and walking in the middle of street. She approached me. She tried talking to other people in the neighborhood who were jogging or walking a dog, but no one gave her the time of day. After interacting with her I deemed she had dementia (which wasn't easy since we couldn't verbally communicate). Peter got out Google translate on his cell phone and tried to figure out what language she spoke. He tried everything from Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc! So I called the police! I was so impressed with how this was handled, that I wrote a letter of commendation to the Officer's superior. Here is my letter:

Dear Sargent Weinstein,

I have great respect for police, fire, and all first responders. My uncle was an officer in NYC, and I am always in amazement with how some people just have a calling and can walk right into harm's way, to bring law and order, and civility to our communities. Today I had a first hand experience working with your police department and felt the need to write to you personally and let you know that Dylan Lemley represents your Department beautifully. 

I am not an Alexandria City resident. I live in DC, but was visiting my friend who lives in the Seminary Ridge neighborhood. While I was loading things from her garage into our car, I noticed an older Asian woman wandering around on the sidewalk and in the middle of the street. People were walking their dogs and passed her, but no one stopped as she was frantically talking to them. When she saw me, she immediately approached. At first I wasn't sure whether she was mentally stable and had to assess her and the situation quickly. She spoke NO ENGLISH, which made this challenging. My husband pulled out his cell phone and he tried Google translate to see if he could communicate with her and help. But she did not respond to Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc. Given she seemed disoriented, I decided to call Alexandria City police. I have had other issues in Seminary Ridge which is why I have your number programmed into my cell phone. 

Within five minutes of calling and reporting the issue, Officer Lemley arrived. Typically we all have an expectation for the police when a crime is being committed, but there was no crime here. So I got to see Officer Lemley literally work a major problem out with us and in the process observed his kindness and compassion for the older woman who was lost and out in the cold. I could tell that the woman wanted to write down something and communicate to us, so I gave her paper and a pen before Officer Lemley arrived. She kept writing down four numbers. When Officer Lemley arrived, we brainstormed, he called your translator service, but despite best efforts they couldn't understand her nor could she understand them. So literally it was me, Officer Lemley, and my husband working this problem. Officer Lemley understood given her age and the cold that she needed a medic, so the fire department also responded. Once she was safely inside a truck and warming up, we literally started to use google map and find all addresses that started with 4*** (the number she wrote down). Your police officers (now at least two others responded to support Officer Lemley) drove to each of the houses with a 4*** address to see if a missing older adult was reported. Honestly watching your officers tackle this issue was very inspiring. 

I had to leave on an errand after being with this woman for 90 minutes. But I knew she was in good hands. Nonetheless, Officer Lemley is took it upon himself to call me on my cell phone to give me an update about this woman and to let me know she was returned safely home. This meant a great deal to me, and I frankly think this is a human interest story worth reporting. In closing, we strongly recommend Officer Lemley receive a commendation for going above and beyond his duties of being a police officer.

In addition to helping this woman, we also had to load the moving truck with thousands of pounds of candy! That is no small feat, that Peter and I accomplished together. Especially on Peter's birthday. 
Our first delivery was to the Hackerman Patz House. This is a House located on the campus of Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. It is in essence like a hotel or guest house, except the cost is nominal and they provide meals and other amenities while caring for a sick loved one next door at the Hospital. Pictured with me is Amy, the house manager. An amazing woman who has devoted her life to service, not only oversees, and as a nurse, but in managing this house. 
Our next delivery was to our development contact, Geannie, at Sinai Hospital. All 15 bins of candy (and it weighed a ton) were temporarily stored in Geannie's office. Eventually these items will make it onto our Mattie Miracle Snack and Item cart at the Hospital. 
Our last stop in Baltimore today was at the Ronald McDonald House. This group of women truly energizes us as they were SO THRILLED to see us and the candy! They share my excitement about candy and decided to display the candy for the entire day like this so kids who enter the House could check out this scene! 
These ladies captured a photo of Peter and me with Ronald McDonald!

Needless to say, it was a long day that involved getting the truck, loading the truck, driving 90 minutes each way back and forth, unloading candy at each site and then coming back to Alexandria to load my car for tomorrow's deliveries, and then returning the rented truck. A WEEK long of deliveries..... OH MY!

November 12, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken on November 13, 2007. It was Peter's birthday and Mattie and I always baked Peter a cake to celebrate. Mattie loved the excitement around a special occasion. Peter loves lemon cake with vanilla frosting, so that was what we always surprised him with. As you can see there were three candles on the cake..... one to represent Peter, Mattie, and me. 

Quote of the day: Was it always to be like this? she wondered. A moment of joy followed by a new sorrow? ~ Soheir Khashoggi

It is hard to believe but today was a CANDY free day! It was thrilling. However, I can't get too comfortable, as the deliveries start tomorrow. We are renting a U-Haul truck tomorrow to drive 90 minutes to Baltimore. We are delivering to Sinai Hospital, the Hackerman Patz House, and the Ronald McDonald House. It will be a full day in the truck and once that candy is unloaded, we will return to the garage and load Tuesday's deliveries into our car. Not sure what is harder, the delivery or the sorting! Delivery requires a lot of carrying and lifting!

In light of the fact that tomorrow is Peter's birthday, we chose to go out to dinner tonight. As tomorrow will be exhausting after a full day of traveling and hauling candy.

Last year, I took Peter to the Hotel Lombardy in DC, and we are returning tonight. It is becoming an annual tradition. Years ago, my parents introduced me to the waiter that works in the cafe and he still remembers my parents and treats us as if we are special. This is an old world hotel with great traditional charm! A true Foggy Bottom gem!

This is the photo I snapped of Peter last year in the Hotel's cafe. As the waiter treated Peter to chocolate mousse to celebrate. If I left it up to Peter, we wouldn't celebrate his birthday. But as I always tell him..... Mattie would not have wanted it that way!

The interior of the cafe. It is small, quaint, wonderful food and service. I particularly love not feeling rushed or having a table of people right on top of me. I will share tonight's photo of Peter, tomorrow!