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 24, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tonight's picture was the photo of Mattie we featured on our 2004 Christmas card. I found capturing holiday photos of Mattie during the toddler years challenging, but I always liked a challenge. Though Mattie wasn't necessarily looking directly at the camera there was something very angelic about his face in this photo. As I look at our tree in the background of this picture, it makes me recall when we used to decorate for the holidays. Many of the ornaments on our tree we bought at antique stores. Mainly because I love older ornaments. They remind me of my childhood and these ornaments seemed to have more character and capture a story. Over the years, our tree also had many new additions created by Mattie. All of which I still have packed away with my other ornaments.

Quote of the day: Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them. ~ Richard L. Evans 

The most expansive man-made project ever undertaken was the construction of the Panama Canal. It took more than 34 years to complete and cost the lives of over 25, 000 people, who died from either tropical diseases or landslides. The canal is one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century, managing to do what nature forgot to do --- connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific, reducing the 12,000 mile sailing distance between New York and San Francisco by more than 7000 miles.

The Panama Canal opened in 1914, fulfilling a dream 400 years in the making. The 51 mile route cuts through sheer granite and dense jungle, creating a vital trade route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. More than 1 million ships have traveled through the Canal’s intricate lock system, one of the most challenging engineering projects ever undertaken. Gatun Locks are the first set of locks on the Atlantic side. The three-step process lifts a ship 85 feet above sea level and into Gatun Lake (a man- made lake, which took the United States three years to fill). A complete transit to the Pacific would include two more sets of locks. The Pedro Miguel Locks takes a ship down 26 feet and the Miraflores Locks has two more steps down, lowering a vessel another 58 feet. This set of locks is the largest and tallest due to fluctuating tides.

This morning, Peter snapped several pictures of the Island Princess going through the first set of locks (The Gatun Locks) on the Atlantic side. Each Lock is comprised of two lanes that operate as water elevators and raise the ship from sea level to the level of Gatun Lake (85 feet!), to allow the crossing through the Continental Divide, and then lowers the ship to sea level on the other side of the Isthmus.

The water used to raise and lower the ship in each set of locks is obtained from Gatun Lake by gravity and poured into the locks through a main culvert system that extends under the locks chambers from the sidewalls and the center wall. The beauty of the Lake is the water is naturally replenished from the rain forest (since it rains daily in Panama!).

Notice as a ship goes through the locks, it is attached on both sides to a silver colored train. The train sits on a track and serves to guide and stabilize the ship through the locks. You should note cruise ships today are basically Panamax Ships. This means they are at the upper most capacity to fit into the lock system. The creators of the Canal were brilliant, because back in the early 1900’s, ships as big as the Island Princess did not exist. Yet the creators had the where with all, to design locks that were 1000 feet long and 106 feet wide, to meet the capacity of ships in the future.

We went on a seven hour tour today of the Locks and the old and new towns of Panama City. In the picture, my mom and I are standing in front of the pump house of the Miraflores Locks.

The first firm effort to build an all-water route through Panama began with the French in 1880, but financial troubles and diseases made the initiative fail. After its independence in 1903 from Colombia, Panama negotiated an agreement with the US for the construction of the Canal which the US would finish on August 15, 1914 and then managed the waterway until 1999. At noon on December 31, 1999, Panama took over full operation, administration and maintenance of the Canal in compliance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties negotiated with the US in 1977.

In 2014, when the Panama Canal completes 100 years of operation, the expansion will be complete as well. This will enable the waterway to double its capacity to handle the increasing demand of worldwide trade. It is said that the excavation for this new lock system produced so much debris, that 63 Egyptian pyramids could have been developed and erected from this material.

Goethals was a US General assigned by President Theodore Roosevelt to manage the construction project of the Panama Canal. Roosevelt selected Goethals because he was a military man and therefore couldn’t leave his assignment, like John Stevens did. Stevens was instrumental to the design of the Canal. Stevens was the creator of the Transcontinental Railroad in the US, and Roosevelt selected Stevens to help with the Canal design, but after several years on the project he resigned. Stevens however was a visionary. He is the one who understood that the Canal couldn’t be a sea level canal, but instead used locks and worked with the terrain of Panama (remember Panama sits in the middle of a rain forest and rains EVERYDAY, therefore digging through dirt is virtually impossible, because the dirt is always wet and produces landslides). Stevens also was credited for allocating money to improve the living conditions of the canal workers and working with Dr. Gorgas (who was famous for eradicating yellow fever in Cuba) to eradicate yellow fever and malaria from the region.

Goethals completed the work started by Stevens. The complex where Goethals’ monument is situated is cleverly designed. Because the building behind the statue sits at 85 feet high (to commemorate the 85 feet ships must traverse from sea level to the Gatun Lake in the locks) and the distance between buildings is 1000 feet (the length of an actual lock system).

Panama is known for its beautiful Molas. Molas are made out of fabric that have intricate appliqués sewn onto them. This craft is done by women, and these women learned this skill from their mothers and grandmothers. It is how many of the women in this region support themselves. The colors are SO vibrant and happy! Shopping in Panama is not quite as aggressive as Colombia, however, you still have to haggle over prices, because what you see is not what you should be paying for any of the items!

The Old City of Panama must have been absolutely breathtaking at one time. Just like walking through a European city. This portion of the city was designed by the French, when the French were living in Panama and designing the Canal. However, the Old City has not been maintained and it is sad to see this beauty in many places falling apart and in shambles.

For the most part, the streets of Panama look like this. It truly is a sight one can’t forget, because the level of poverty is enormous. It is a form of poverty we in the US can’t possibly understand. In fact, our tour guide made it quite clear that while the US was in Panama and building the Canal the quality of life for ALL workers was GOOD! They had a safe and clean place to live and plenty to eat. In fact, seeing the Locks and ALL the infrastructure (buildings, roads, and trains) our Country built for Panama, leaves you proud of what we were able to accomplish from an engineering and quality of life standpoint. The locks are a main source of income for the Panamanians. For example, a ship like the Island Princess paid $90,000 to Panama just to traverse through the locks today!

I think these next two pictures speak for themselves.

Notice the trash everywhere and the congestion! This picture was taken in Colon, the Capital of Panama. Colon was founded by Americans in 1850 as the Atlantic terminus of the Panama Canal Railroad, which was under construction to meet the gold rush demand for a fast route to California.

This is a monument dedicated to Fernando De Lesseps. De Lesseps was French and the original engineer on the Panama Canal design. De Lesseps was chosen by France since he created the successful Suez Canal, which was a sea level canal, and he was convinced he could take his Suez Canal design and implement it in Panama. That was an IMPOSSIBILITY, which produced bankruptcy for France and also cost the lives of 20,000 workers who died from horrible working conditions and parasitic diseases. De Lesseps was said to have died a recluse with a tarnished reputation.

In the back drop of this picture is the New City of Panama. Clearly you can see that Panama has two classes, the wealthy and the poor. Two extremes!

The last picture I am sharing with you tonight, we entitled…. The Panama Puss. We are 8 degrees away from the equator and it is VERY hot. A heat that is not describable, with 100 percent humidity. This cat has the right idea, which was to find a shady spot, where she could watch all of us tourists in the HOT sun passing by.

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