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 3, 2018

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Saturday, November 3, 2018
Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2006. Mattie was four years old and happy to dress up like Patches, his calico cat. We had made this costume together the year before but because Mattie was hospitalized with sepsis, he never used it. Thankfully it fit him perfectly in 2006. 

Quote of the day: A warm smile is the universal language of kindness. ~ William Arthur Ward

The candy is rolling into Mattie Miracle's 8th Annual Post-Halloween Candy Drive. Volunteers worked hard today at sorting candy by type into bags. They processed through hundreds of pounds of candy in just a few short hours. We love our volunteers and donors. We couldn't do what we do without you.
We have had many questions about providing candy to children with cancer. I try to remind everyone that a good portion of the candy goes to stocking our FREE snack and item carts at both MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Children's Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore. The carts are intended for family members caring for a child with cancer or other life threatening illness. Living in a hospital 24/7, is very stressful and typically families do not have the time to leave their child's bedside. So the carts help to meet the basic needs of these wonderful caregivers. Candy is highly sought after and deeply appreciated. Of course candy is NOT the only thing available on the carts. There are crackers, all sorts of chips, granola bars, popcorn, and of course drinks and toiletry items. 
We were a very productive team today! We relocated the candy drive this year to our friend Ali's detached garage. Ali is Margaret's daughter. Who is Margaret? Margaret was Mattie's preschool teacher who died too soon from ALS. She was an outstanding teacher and a wonderful friend. Ali is carrying on the tradition of helping Mattie Miracle!
Pictured from left to right: Bob, Maria, Mary, Debbie, Julia, Eliza, Ann, Marisa, and Vicki
Pictured with me is Allan. Allan is a math teacher at Ideaventions Academy in Reston, VA. Allan found out about our candy drive and his school collected 45 pounds of candy for us. It was wonderful to meet him and to share a little bit about the Foundation with him. 

We had people of all ages helping us today. I love to see the next generation pitching in. Both Eliza and Julia have practically grown up hearing about Mattie Miracle, as Eliza and her brother Tim went to kindergarten with Mattie. Hard to believe that Mattie would be a teenager now. 

Pictured from left to right are Debbie and Peggy. Debbie is the mom of the children pictured above. Debbie is also opening up her home and hosting our first ever Bourbon and Bites Bash this Thursday. We are deeply grateful to Debbie who as you can see does it all for us... from sorting candy to hosting events. We are so thrilled that close to 80 people are coming to our Thursday event. 

Pictured from left to right are Mary, Bob, and Maria. All people we met through the Resurrection Children's Center (Mattie's preschool). 

These cuties belong to Ali. They are Parker, Charlotte, and Greyson. Whenever I see Charlotte, I think of Margaret. To me she is the spitting image of my friend. 
I posted this photo because it was like.... Where's Waldo?! Waldo in this case being Sunny. Sunny was in and among all of us today. He is the best boy though.... he doesn't touch the candy and he doesn't disrupt the process!

November 2, 2018

Friday, November 2, 2018

Friday, November 2, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2005. Mattie was 3 years old and was in preschool. That year Mattie wanted to dress up like our cat, Patches. So we went to the craft store together and bought pieces of colorful felt. Brought it home and hot glued it to a black sweat suit. Sweat suits were Mattie's costume base of choice. Unfortunately that year, Mattie got quite ill, so ill that he was hospitalized for several days with sepsis.  Mattie never trick or treated that year and we were at a hospital that did not have a pediatric program. So there was nothing there for Mattie, and even the nurses felt badly about this. Nonetheless, we saved the costume and Mattie used it in 2006. 

Quote of the day: Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. ~ Mark Twain

After my ordeal yesterday, of which I wrote about on the blog, I had two friends today write to me. One friend knows me for years, as we got our doctorates together. Another friend runs a childhood cancer organization. Both of whom made it their business to write to me to let me know how professional I am, how skilled I am, and most of all that I am the ultimate team player. But what they wanted me to know is Mattie Miracle is me. If Mattie Miracle made it for nine years, it is because of me. So I agree with Twain's quote.... kindness is a language and can be felt by ALL of us. As I know their kind comments changed my whole mood. 

Today marks the 9th birthday for Mattie Miracle. On this day (November 2) in 2009, Mattie Miracle was incorporated in the state of Virginia.

Thanks to incredible support from all our dear volunteers, supporters and donors, we have been able to accomplish great things on both the National and Local levels, including...................

  1. Developing the first ever evidence-based Psychosocial Standards of Care for children with cancer and their families;
  2. Supporting over 21,000 children with cancer and families;
  3. Funding 3 Child Life Specialists at multiple hospitals;
  4. Operating multiple in-patient snack carts to provide free snacks and items to families;
  5. Delivering over 25,000 pounds of candy and over 15,000 toiletry items to in-patient families;
  6. Advocating for comprehensive cancer care, so that our society knows that childhood cancer "Is Not Just About The Medicine!"

Our first large donation of candy! From the Lab School in Washington, DC.
The candy drive set up! We are taking up an entire garage.
Tomorrow is our first sorting party in the garage. We have a ton to process and I am thankful for the help! I can't get over how far and wide the candy drive gets advertised! What I am happy about is people seem eager to drive to us this year, rather than me running around town picking up candy. 

November 1, 2018

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2004. Mattie and I went to Target and together we picked out this costume. The costume had to be just right otherwise Mattie wouldn't wear it. Mattie had no problem with sweat suit material and when we spotted this pooh outfit, we knew it had to be the one. Mattie and I both loved Winnie the Pooh, and in my opinion Mattie made the cutest pooh.

Quote of the day: Anger is a short madness. Horace 

It is the day after Halloween and I can't tell you how many emails I received today about our candy drive. Every question possible..... what type of candy do you want, what size, can the candy have nuts, where should we drop off the candy, must the candy be sorted.................... get the picture?! What would drive the average person crazy, doesn't bother me at all. I like interfacing with people who contact me about the Foundation and I don't view it as a bother but instead a way to spread awareness about what we do. I must admit candy peaks the curiosity of people of all ages!

However, what I did not expect today was feedback from someone I know about my role in the Foundation. As of tomorrow, Mattie Miracle with be 9 years old. November 2nd is Mattie Miracle's birthday. The Foundation is older than Mattie was when he died. I have babied a Foundation longer than my own son. Needless to say, because the Foundation represents Mattie, I keep a close eye on everything the Foundation does.... whether it is visiting our hospitals, interacting with our child life specialists, assessing our snack/item carts, interfacing with donors, and of course working with our national researchers on our psychosocial standards agenda. What I deem as providing oversight, commitment, and love to everything we do, I found out today that others view me as controlling and a micro-manager. This is a new one to me because I have never received such feedback before on any of the jobs I have ever done, and I have worked with a lot of people in my lifetime doing various tasks. 

Naturally despite my anger over hearing this perspective, I did listen, because this is a friend. Mind you I can listen, absorb what is being said, and appreciate someone else's feelings, but that doesn't mean I agree with it. But, I am mature enough to hear it, yet I am not quite sure those who are willing to judge me would be as open to hearing my perspective or how I see it from my vantage point. 

At the end of the day, the conversation reminded me that there are two sets of people in the world..... those lucky enough to have children and those who lost their children and are childless. These two groups co-exist in the world but I am not quite sure we can ever fully understand the other. I feel quite certain of this because I interact with many Foundations in the childhood cancer space, and all Founders are heavily involved, dedicated, committed, and provide the direction for their organization. They do this because like Peter and me, they too have lost children to cancer. It is a loss that is so great that it is hard to comprehend or try to describe. Yet what keeps all of us going is the work we do in our child's memory. Therefore, receiving such hurtful feedback, which I deem wasn't merited, can be personally devastating to a bereaved parent. 

October 31, 2018

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2003. This was Mattie's second Halloween, and I remember picking out this costume together. Mattie did not like anything scratchy or tight. Certainly he did not want anything hanging or pulling on him, which is so typical of costumes. But together he and I found this cute sweat suit at Target. I think Mattie made the cutest pumpkin!

Quote of the day: I never met a pumpkin I did not like. ~ Mattie Brown

When I was out and about today, I ran into a woman who started talking to me. She wished me a happy Halloween and then asked if I was going out trick or treating tonight! She wasn't asking really about me, but was asking about my children and where I took them for Halloween. Given that I don't know this person well (obviously!), I did not really respond to her question. Other than I said.... I don't really like Halloween and fortunately where I live, no one trick or treats in my complex. This isn't a Vicki thing, it is just how it is in our complex. When Mattie was alive, we always drove to Alexandria, so he could trick or treat with friends in their neighborhoods. 

However, after I told her all of this, I then said, that I have a Foundation which collects about 12,000 pounds of Post Halloween candy a year. Then I told her, I deliver this candy all around town for families to enjoy. But to me this whole dialogue speaks volumes. I don't live a typical or normal life. Having a child die from cancer has lasting and reverberating consequences. 

Why do I collect candy? Why start a hospital snack cart back in 2011? The answer to both questions is simple. I decided to take on the creation and funding of a snack cart, because when Peter and I were in the hospital with Mattie, our support community visited daily with snacks, meals, and candy. Food EVERY DAY for OVER ONE YEAR!!! I believe my chocolate addiction occurred during that year of Mattie's cancer journey. I remember how wonderful it was to receive chocolate. It felt like winning the lottery, after all when you are living in a two by four of a hospital room, with no access to the outside world, receiving candy is such a gift. It makes you feel so special, and to me chocolate now symbolizes love. 

I was very aware back then as I still am now, that not every family in the hospital has a support community like mine. Which is why I took the model our support community started and am doing it on a grander scale for families at both MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Children's Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore. As of tomorrow the candy starts rolling in, and soon we will be spreading candy cheer all over the Washington, DC region. 

I end tonight's positing with this photo I took in Georgetown today. When I tell you these Halloween decorations are over the top, I am not kidding. There is a fortune teller box in the right hand corner, statues, mummies, tombstones, cobwebs, and the list goes on. I bet this is a sight all lit up at night!!!

October 30, 2018

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 -- Mattie died 476 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2006. I remember snapping this photo as if it were yesterday. We took Mattie to a fall festival and one of the displays was this cute pumpkin measuring stick. So happy I captured this moment in time. Mattie was four years old and as you can see over 3 feet tall. 

Quote of the day: Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow. ~  Mary Anne Radmacher

I am very tired tonight and also dealing with a migraine. November is quickly approaching and that means balancing the Post-Halloween Candy Drive and our Bourbon and Bites Bash on November 8th. I am happy to report that we have 63 people attending as of now, which for a first time evening event, in which we are charging a registration fee, is great! But what is even more impressive is that the majority of attendees are not familiar with Mattie Miracle and this event will provide the opportunity to introduce them to our mission and activities. 

October 29, 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2007. I will never forget this wonderful photo that Peter captured. We took Mattie to Butler's Orchard in Maryland and as you can see he rode a hay wagon out to the pumpkin patch, where he picked many beautiful pumpkins to take home! 

Quote of the day: A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it. ~ George Moore

On Wednesday evening of last week, my parents and I had the opportunity to have dinner with my cousins Maureen and Philip, and my lifetime friend Karen. Philip is my mom's first cousin. 

We haven't seen Maureen and Philip since my wedding, which was over 23 years ago. So in a way, going to NY, was just as much about returning home and seeing family as it was about my mom receiving an honor from her school. When I knew my cousins years ago, I was much younger and had a lot less baggage or perhaps emotional insights. Now that I have experienced great illness, death, and tragedy, I am much more aware of those around me and am eager to hear about their lives and stories. What I came away with from Wednesday's dinner is that I am saddened to live so far away from my cousins, as I feel we have a lot in common and we both understand and value the role of the family caregiver. 

My dad with my cousin Philip. While at dinner, Karen turned to me and said that Philip reminded her of my maternal grandmother. I would have to agree with her, they do indeed look similar. 
We had a wonderful meal by the Hudson River, and the wait staff even surprised my mom with a special dessert. They asked what we were celebrating and my response was... my mom's teaching award and being with family. 

While at dinner, I had a wonderful time connecting with my cousin Maureen. My cousin has been a caregiver for decades. In fact, I can't think of a time when she wasn't helping a family member. As I always say, family caregivers are the unsung heroes of our society. It is a self-less job, but one that makes a profound impact on the lives of those receiving the care, support, and love. Though my caregiving has been different from Maureen's, there are many similarities and commonalities that we share. But I think it is special to be able to sit down with someone and just in a matter of a couple of words and stories, feel that we are both on the same page! For me this is a refreshing experience because I don't always feel that way in my numerous interactions with people. 

The beauty of cousins!!!

October 28, 2018

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2002. This was Mattie's first Halloween. He was six months old. I frankly think the pumpkin was bigger than he was. Of course Mattie did not go trick or treating that year, but I did want to acknowledge his first Halloween with us, so I put both him and the pumpkin together for this photo. 

Quote of the day: Candy is nature's way of making up for Mondays.Rebecca Gober

Peter and I created 8 collage type placards before I left for New York. We wanted to have photos that capture Mattie Miracle's activities on display at our upcoming event on November 8th. I am so glad we tackled this early and it was a nice surprise to see them this morning. We have a placard that highlights:

  1. Our child life services
  2. Our Item Drives
  3. Our Advocacy Work
  4. Our National Presentations
  5. Our Psychosocial Research
  6. Our Snack Carts
  7. Our Walk & Family Festivals
  8. Our work with students performing community service

We closed out the big storage unit we were renting for our candy drive today. We are grateful that our friend, Ali, has offered the use of her garage. So we relocated all the bins from the storage unit to Ali's garage and by the end of the week, tables, chairs, bowls, bags, and bins will be all set up to begin our first sorting event next Saturday. 

After moving bins, we took Sunny for a walk at Episcopal High School. It is my favorite place to walk with Sunny, because there is no traffic or congestion. It is a beautiful campus, with its own pond. A pond that as you can see attracts wild life.... this wonderful Great Blue Heron was just sitting there watching us walking by.