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

December 23, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tonight's picture of Mattie may be our ALL time funniest one! Not because of the content but how it was taken. This was the photo on the front cover of our 2003 Christmas card. Taking a photo of Mattie at age one and a half was VIRTUALLY impossible. He wouldn't sit still at all and forget about looking at the camera. So one weekend I had the idea of taking him to Home Depot and Lowe's. We strapped him into a shopping cart and was hoping he would be stimulated by the lights, displays, and plants just long enough to snap a picture. We first went to Home Depot, but all the photos there came out blurry or did not capture Mattie well. Then we went to Lowe's and by the poinsettias we caught Mattie smiling. I look back on this picture now and laugh. I wasn't laughing at the time, but now I can see just how hysterical we were trying to capture his attention at the store to get him to smile. It was a very memorable production!

Quote of the day: You may only be someone in the world, but to someone else, you may be the world. ~ Unknown 

This morning we entered the port of Cartagena (pronounced… Carta-hay-na), Colombia. The Sea has significantly calmed down and we are seeing sun and experiencing HOT temperatures with 100 percent humidity. The entry to Colombia was quite beautiful. Though this is not Colombia’s capital (it is Bogotá), Cartagena is a large city (population of 952,024) with a rich history. Cartagena was founded in 1533 by the Spanish explorer Madrileno Don Pedro de Heredia.

Cartagena was a shipping center for gold, silver, and slaves between the Americas and Spain. Because of the rich cargos, Cartagena became a favorite target of pirates. Like many successful Spanish ports, Cartagena was a prime target for English and French pirates. One of the most notorious to venture into Cartagena’s beautiful bay was Sir Francis Drake who attacked the city in 1586. After destroying one-quarter of its buildings, including the Cartagena Cathedral, he demanded a ransom, which in today’s dollars is around $200 million. The city recovered but after repeated attacks and severe looting by both British and French invaders Spain decided to pour all its resources (around two trillion dollars) into constructing gigantic fortresses, which made Cartagena an impregnable stronghold.

Cartagena is comprised of an old city and a new city. As we were coming into port, it was VERY evident that we were passing by the new city. To me this part of the city looked just like Miami. It was a very opulent looking area, which I am most certainly not accustomed to seeing in this area of the world.

Over 80 percent of Colombians are Catholic. Therefore, being greeted in the harbor today by this statue of the Madonna and Child seems very fitting and symbolic. The harbor itself was quite beautiful and serves as a special backdrop to the architecture on the land.

Here are a couple of interesting facts about Colombia….. 1) 95% of the world’s emeralds come from Colombia, 2) South America has 13 Countries, of which Colombia is one, 3) Colombia is the only South American country with coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, 4) Colombia is the second largest fresh cut flower exporter in the world, and 5) only Mexico and Spain have more Spanish speaking citizens than Colombia.

Majestically standing guard on a hillside overlooking the city and harbor is Castillo de San Felipe, a fortress built by the Spanish for protection against pirates while shipping gold out to Europe.

A view from the top of the Fort! As you can see, from the previous picture, to get to the top of the Fort was a bit of a climb. However, you should also note that we were climbing on cobblestones, not a flat path, and the temperatures were in the 90s, with 100 percent humidity!

The Fort has an extensive tunnel system. The tunnels were designed for two purposes. The first purpose was to store gun powder and ammunition, however, the second purpose was for the Spaniards to escape their enemies. The tunnels are narrow and low in height. I basically just fit through them, which means that the Spaniard men in those days were about my stature. They specifically designed these tunnels to meet their specifications, because they knew that their British and Dutch enemies were much taller than they were and would have a very hard time running after and capturing them in these tunnels. You should also note that these tunnels are VERY, VERY dark. Some of us took out our phones or cameras to help light our paths!

After traversing through three tunnel systems, I snapped a picture of Peter standing up on one of the Fort walls!

Inside the Old City are Las Bovedas. Las Bovedas were dungeons initially built for military purposes, but now are home to boutiques and tourist shops. I am not sure I would have deduced that these stores were prison cells at one time, but once I learned about this information, I could immediately see how this was possible. It also was a bit eerie because if these dungeons could talk, I am sure they would have quite a tale to tell.

In the back drop of this photo is the Cartagena Cathedral. This Cathedral is one of the largest in a series of fortresses with a massive exterior and a simple interior.

I have travelled to many places over the course of my lifetime. However, Cartagena was an experience like no other. People of all ages were walking on the streets selling all sorts of merchandise. However, these vendors were highly aggressive and would literally hover and follow you. It was almost an intimidation tactic until you bought something from them. These vendors were everywhere in both the new and old parts of the city. In addition to vendors, there were also people holding parrots or a sloth, and charging you money to take their picture. As Peter snapped this picture of the Old City, what I noticed was the man on the left hand side of the picture with a black shirt. He is an example of one of the vendors we encountered in which he was literally walking beside our group and asking us to buy items every two minutes. I put these folks into context and realize this is how they make a living, but many of our fellow tour mates were disgusted by their persistence and felt harassed so much that they wouldn’t buy any of the items.

The inquisition that had gripped Spain during the Middle Ages expanded to all Spanish colonies and territories including Colombia. While churches were built in Cartagena to bless the faithful, “courts” were erected to seek out, try and condemn anyone viewed as a heretic. The Palacio de la Inquisicion appears to be a charming multi-storied structure and the best example of 18th century colonial Spanish architecture. But behind the ornate stone gateway is a history of misery and torture. During the colonial era, 800 people were condemned to death and executed for crimes of what the Church decreed were “magic, witchcraft and blasphemy.”

While visiting the Inquisition palace, which by the way was beyond creepy (with displays of different tortuous devices to kill people in a slow and inhumane way), there was a courtyard filled with trees as part of this complex. Right next to a banana tree was a three toed sloth. He was actually beautiful, and had a stunning tiger patterned spot on his back!

Cartagena was the center for slave trade during the colony era. Many slaves, after arriving from Africa, would be sold to work in the silver mines of Peru or Panama’s sugar cane plantations. Peter Claver is a VERY special name in Cartagena. That is because Peter was known for his compassion, kindness, refuge, and advocacy for slaves. In fact, Peter became a Saint for his deeds and a church was built in his honor. In the copula of this church, you can see beautiful stain glassed windows. The windows depict Peter’s life and his care and support of the slaves of Cartagena.

I would like to end tonight’s posting with a glorious Caribbean sight….. the sun setting into the water. The sun is another symbol that reminds us of Mattie and makes us feel as if he is with us in spirit.

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